Teaching in the 21st century: challenges and opportunities.
I have been examined the theory, ideas and skills covered in the two weeks English courses “Teaching in the 21st Century”. The readings have confirmed, strengthened and challenged my views formed over the last thirteen years during which I have been engaged as a teacher in the vocational education and training sector. I will reflect upon the three concepts covered that resonate most deeply with my own teaching philosophies; 21st Century learning, personalized learning, and curriculum that uses deep knowledge. Body 21st Century Learning “In 21st Century Learning, students use educational technologies to apply knowledge to new situations, analyze information, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions.” I believe that 21st Century learning is independent of technology because it is a set of ideas that bring about a change in education from schools of the industrial age to a world where “the typical teenager has at least as much access to knowledge about the world as parents and teachers have”. Senge (2012) describes the industrial age school as a “school system fashioned in the image of the assembly line, the icon of the booming industrial age” (p.35) , where the school had the monopoly on information (Senge, 2012, p.59). The cultivation of independence and active learning encourages students to develop problem solving and metacognitive skills.
I agree that adopting a 21st Century learning approach is a matter of urgency to bring about this revolution. Human resources are like natural resources. They're often buried deep. You have to go looking for them, they're not just lying around on the surface. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves. And you might imagine education would be the way that happens, but too often it's not. Every education system in the world is being reformed at the moment and it's not enough. Reform is no use any more, because that's simply improving a broken model. What we need – and the word's been used many times during the course of the past few days – is not evolution, but a revolution in education. This has to be transformed into something else. A vast increase in human knowledge along with significant social, economic and technological changes is creating unique and complex future problems. We need a change in the education paradigm in order to successfully challenge these problems.
In my teaching I reduce the emphasis on teacher-led learning. I am trying to adopt the role of coach or facilitator, providing the students with the opportunity to guide their own learning independently or in a socially collaborative context. Students are able to personalise and develop ownership of their learning. I believe that 21st Century learning is at its best when students are engaged in personalised learning where the teacher is not a font of knowledge, but a facilitator there to guide and encourage students to learn in a way that explores their environment and helps them identify and embrace their talents. Personalised learning embraces several key concepts:
• putting the learner at the centre of the system
• having high expectations of every child
• shaping teaching around the way young people learn
• promoting learning beyond the classroom
• focusing on developing learning skills and strategies
• providing clear pathways through the education system, whilst retaining a core entitlement
• planning for a combination of independent and collaborative learning
• using the learning needs and talents of young people to guide decision making
• allowing for individual interpretations of the goals and values of schooling
I believe that the importance of personalised learning is that it is in direct opposition to the industrial age model where students were taught in an assembly line manner using a teacher-centric focus, delivering the same content to all students.
I disagree that the use of technology should be moderated without good cause, and I did not read any evidence to validate the notion of moderating the use of technology in creating a personalised learning environment. I do not suggest that technology should be adopted for the sake of technology, however if there is a demonstrable case for the adoption of technology for the purpose of fostering personalised learning I think it should be adopted without hindrance.
I would like to conclude with a quote from the closing remarks of Robinson (2010). I believe that it beautifully illustrates the importance of embracing a new education paradigm. I wanted to read you a quick, very short poem from W.B. Yeats, who some of you may know. He wrote this to his love, Maud Gonne, and he was bewailing the fact that he couldn't really give her what he thought she wanted from him. and he says, “I've got something else, but it may not be for you.” He says this: “Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly. Robinson (2010).
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