Wednesday, 8 May 2013

We know where we are, but where are we going?

There is much debate about schools and where they are failing. Schools are being seen as products of the industrial age and reflect this by their narrow pedagogy, factory style classrooms and content based curricula.
Where should schools be going? What are the skills that we should be developing in our students so that they are ready to be productive individuals and citizens in the 21st century?
I found the job description from the International School of Beijing for a Futures Academy Facilitator really interesting and a commendable approach to planning for the future.
It is not the only list of skills and approaches, so I combined these with others that we have been working on for some time at our school. The concepts do not divide neatly and there is some overlap, but would welcome other suggestions too.

21st Century Learning Skills: 
  • Creativity and Innovation (Entrepreneurship in Yong Zhao's language?)
  • Collaboration and Communication - complex communication, oral and written
  • Digital and Quantitative Literacy
  • Global Thinking, International Mindedness
  • Inquiry, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Integrity and Ethical Decision-making
  • Adaptability, Initiative and Risk-taking
  • Leadership and Teamwork, Responsibility
21st Century Learning Approaches and Environments:
  • Authentic Learning - Project Based Learning
  • Experiential Learning
  • Open Learning
  • Technology Infusion
  • Social and Emotional Learning 
Creativity is the big thing at the moment. In the UK, according to the Times Educational Supplement (19th April 2013 TESpro edition, editorial by Jo Knowsley), the new national curriculum planned for 2014 will encourage greater creativity in the classroom. There is some skepticism as to whether the reforms will achieve this, but the TES has published a supporting article "Let creativity fly in the classroom - through careful planning, make the most of the greater freedom promised under the new curriculum".
But is this really where we are going? Is it enough? Are we tinkering around the edges?
David Garner thinks so. It is good to see an international educator getting into this arena and giving a very powerful yet understated presentation.
"Our brains are superbly equipped for learning, if only our schools would engage us! Today's students are growing up in a global society and have more information available in a day than earlier generations could access in years. To transform information into learning, students need critical thinking skills; to succeed in tomorrow's economy they will need to collaborate across cultures. But our schools were designed for yesterday when knowledge was scarce and learning was an individual pursuit. Our schools are still teacher-centered, with too much emphasis on lecturing. It's time to throw out the sage on the stage."

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