Our world has drastically changed in the past hundred years. Nowadays, everything is done differently, starting from the way we dress to the way we learn. Learning In the 21st century has become a completely new concept. The methods used to learn, the way in which knowledge is presented, the way in which students perceive knowledge, has all changed. Let us first try to understand what the 21st century exactly means.
The 21st Century is a new millennium, which has been created by advanced technology and innovation. These are the two key elements of our new century. In this century, our culture, skills, etc have all changed. Now some of the skills required include: critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, agility and adaptability skills, curiosity and imagination skills, assessing and analyzing information skills, innovative and entrepreneurial skills, and plenty more.
There are many methods schools can use to encourage advanced learning in their curriculum. Technology is crucial in this new century; therefore students are taught how to use different gadgets since the very beginning of schooling. Also, in schools, teachers usually give out homework that would require the student to use a computer. So by the time a child is in the eleventh or twelfth grade, he/she is extremely familiar with using a wide range of technology. In fact, teachers also become quite technologically savvy, as they incorporate technology in their lessons as well.
Looking at a few innovative curriculum based programs, one cannot ignore the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). This curriculum was innovated in the 19th century but still applies to the 21st century. For example, it offers a subject called The Theory of Knowledge, which requires student to think in a very practical way. It demands students to think about questions they would never find a definite answer to. It teaches students to think outside the box, which is similar to the entire concept of 21st century learning. Within the curriculum, students are allowed to take six subjects of their choice, including subjects such as sports science and computer science. They are required to pick one foreign language, which helps their students become more diverse and skilled.
Big History is another example of teaching and learning in the 21st century. Created by Prof. David Christian and funded by philanthropist Bill Gates, this interdisciplinary approach to education discusses the history of evolution from the ‘Big Bang’ to modern day complexities. The Big History Project is being currently piloted by 5 schools based out of Mumbai and Pune.
Europe has been the centre of changes in education and innovative policies on education. The latest being Finland’s complete educational reform to ensure their students are provided with the skills that will help them with their future jobs. Finland believes that normal educational programs equip their students with many skills, however not skills that are required for particular jobs. Finland thinks that with their new educational programme, they will be able to help their students attain jobs in the future. Also, they are going to be teaching in terms of topics and not subjects. For example, topics such as the European Union will be taught, which will consist of a mix of subjects, including economics, history, languages and geography. Their students will be far more superior to the students learning the old curriculum. Finland is a perfect example of what 21st century learning is all about!
With 21st century learning comes 21st century teaching and the new dynamic role that teachers play as facilitators to the whole learning system.