What to expect from the 21st-century education system


Classroom learning in a typical model of a 21st century education system

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Classroom learning in a typical model of a 21st-century education system. Photo credit: ec.europa.eu




21st-Century Education System: What knowledge and skills to expect; How to know if schools and higher education institutions offer it | The Typical Model of 21st Century Education System

Schools and higher education institutions were warehouses of vast human knowledge and information in the 19th century Education System

Education nowadays really isn’t that much different from what it was a century ago when schools and higher education institutions used to be the warehouses for storage of vast human knowledge and information hub, and going to school was the best way to acquire subject knowledge and skills.

The 19th-century education system classrooms were characterized with crowded students all learning the same thing at the same pace from overworked, poorly paid and under-appreciated teachers and instructors who spend ten, twenty, thirty years or more teaching more or less the same thing.

Teaching and learning in a typical 19th century classroom
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Teaching and learning in a typical 19th-century classroom. Photo credit: yesmagazine.org

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The Need for 21st-century education

Every stakeholder in the education system – parents, teachers, educators, communities, and governments should be concerned if an independent person in the society after spending thousands of dollars, pounds or euros, as the case may be, in school and higher education and fail to make own right decisions or have a sustainable future and better life.

Parents, students, and educators should brace up for learning complications but more rewarding. Our 21st-century education system will be drastically different from the past learning experience. The century education system is currently bothered with knowledge and skills relating to space exploration, virtual representation, advanced medical technology, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, genetic engineering, and more. Therefore, how students are educated need to change. Much of this may seem uncompromising or impractical, but essential change is needed if we are going to figure out how we will have a sustainable future we are creating.

What should students, parents, educators and the general society expect from our 21st-century education system? How are these education system stakeholders in the society for that matter, know the schools and higher education institutions are offering such quality education supposedly that would prepare their children to succeed in a world that appears unpredictable?

The role of schools and higher education institutions in the 21st-century education system

Nurturing inspiring and inquisitive students

The role of schools and higher education institutions should no longer be to fill heads with knowledge and information; rather it should be a place to nurture inspiring students to be inquisitive about the world they live in.

Nurturing creative and explorative students

School children nowadays are naturally inquisitive, and as young curious learners, we need to push boundaries and discover the limits of what they can do to make them young explorers and inventors. Allowing them to spend their primary and secondary school days preparing for one competitive or scholarship examination after another while adhering strictly to stiff school guidelines not only stifles their curiosity but suffocates their creative and independent thinking ability. The world needs children with excellent knowledge and skills in subject areas as well as inventors.

The Typical Model of 21st- Century Education System

21st-century education strategies to produce inspiring, creative and independent students

The typical model of a 21st-century education system must incorporate education strategies that would produce inspiring, creative and independent students.

Flexibility and Adaptability to acquire new knowledge and skills

Much value is now attached to a school environment that is flexible enough to support the ability of children to adapt and acquire new knowledge and skills. 19th-century education system encouraged school children and higher education students to focus all their lives in particular knowledge and skill but now people who are not widely informed, missing out on the new ways of understandings the world that is constantly opening up, or vast in multiple knowledge and skills may not achieve much in life, lacking sustainable future and better life.

Redesigning of the Classroom

Classrooms in schools and higher education institutions themselves will need to be redesigned. There should be no more square boxes with rows of desks in the classroom. The classrooms of the 21st-century education should have innovative spaces that promote inspiration and curiosity while fostering creative and inventive social collaboration with peers.

Schools and higher education institutions should focus on teaching and learning creativity and independence

This starts by rethinking what the role of a school is. The role of school should no longer be to just fill heads with knowledge and information but for teaching and learning creativity and independence.

Consider you are trying teaching a group of children the topic – Fraction in Mathematics. Making the children learn the contents of the topic would be more impactful and would bring out their creative ability if they are asked independently to set 5 different problems relating to the topic rather than giving them a set of 5 questions to solve.

Customized learning to meet individual needs and interests of students

Having school kids subjectively lumped together into classrooms all forced to learn the same thing at the same pace is an outdated education strategy that is no longer viable in a 21st-century education system. Education strategies must have the tendency of customizing learning to meet individual needs and interests of students.

Teachers as facilitators of learning needs and interests

Teachers become facilitators of learning, not custodians of knowledge. Teachers no longer need a deep understanding of the given lesson topic but they should know how to learn about it. By so doing, they help the students identify their individual learning needs and interests and facilitate their ability to work out how to acquire the needed knowledge and skills.

Teachers become facilitators of learning. Rather than lecturing everyone, they go from student to student or group to group helping them to figure out how to learn what they need to know. Teachers no longer need a deep understanding of the given topic but they should know how to learn about it. Students eventually should also be supplied with their own virtual learning assistant to answer any question they may have and help them stay on task.

Online education services

There already exist multiple online education service platforms, websites and apps, such as National Geography National Geographic, Khan Academy Khan Academy, Cool Math Games Cool Math Games, Crash course channel on YouTube crash course, to mention but a few that teach a variety of subjects better than just about any teacher could. These online education service outlets offer students’ ability to have distance education for remote learning using technology tools.

Having less-structured passive learning

Passive learning should not be strictly structured. Students should be given a topic to learn about and a variety of educational materials (books, videos, podcasts, virtual trips, and tour) to pick from to help them study, provided the expected knowledge and skills are acquired.

Practice active learning

There should be task-driven active learning whereby students are allocated tasks to complete and given all the necessary tools they might need to figure out how to solve the problem, like having three-dimensional (3D) printers, interactive display in virtual learning environments, a connection to various interest-based laboratories and facilities all around the world for research work, etc.

Lessons wherein you jot down notes off a whiteboard alone are inadequately insufficient to produce creative and independent learners that would solve the world problems for a sustainable future and better life.

Reorientation of the goals and objectives of education

The understanding of students that one objective of education is about dividing courses of study or learning curriculum into discreet subjects separating lesson contents into different knowledge and skills like Language, Arts, Sciences, etc. Such a goal of education is instructionally useful but school children should realize that the world is not made up of independent subjects. The different subjects bleed into each other and none can fully be understood in isolation but as a whole. Subjects are simply tools to help you understand the world.

Again, school children should be reoriented about having wide-believe in their inability to do a particular subject or another due to their difficulty and complexity like Physics, Drawing, Mathematics, others. School children and higher education students should understand that no knowledge and skill of any subject is beyond them.


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