5W-1 H on 21st century Learning Skills


                                                          Narayan Prasad Sapkota

                                                                        Master Trainer, QUEST –Nepal

It’s very sad to say that in Nepal we are teaching the 19th century curriculum with teachers of 20th century to the children of 21st century.

 Now question comes what are 21st century learning skills and how should impart to our young learning kids?. A 21st century education is about giving students the skills they need to succeed in this new world, and helping them grows the confidence to practice those skills.

  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

These four themes are not to be understood as units or even subjects, but as themes that should be overlaid across all curriculum mapping and strategic planning. They should be part of every lesson in the same way as literacy and numeracy.

Creativity is about thinking through information in new ways, making new connections and coming up with innovative solutions to problems.

Critical thinking is about analyzing information and critiquing claims.

Communication is understanding things well enough to share them clearly with other people. Collaboration is about teamwork and the collective genius of a group that is more than the sum of its parts.

Practices have shown that   rote memorization is not an effective learning strategy and that teacher-centered classrooms do not ensure learning. However, despite learning about the skills that students will need to develop to become successful in the 21st century, as well as what beliefs about education may be worth hanging onto or throwing away, schools and teachers are left trying to figure out what their role needs to be in the education of their 21st century students. Traditionally the educators prepared students for exams and exams were easier way to evaluate and certify the students. Nowadays, we don’t live in the same world. We are globalised. Society is a mix of many different beliefs and cultures. Globalization has opened up the world and allowed people to connect in new and exciting ways. No doubt traditions, values and cultures are our property.

So then, what is the role of education in the 21st century?

As always, at its core, the role of education is to prepare students for their life. We have to make them active, successful and skillful. 

1. Instruction should be student-centered

There is need of change of teaching pedagogy. While student-centered learning is strongly encouraged in the 21st century, this does not mean that the teacher can never give a lecture again. Students need to lead from front. Instead, it means that the main source of knowledge in the classroom should not be the teacher. Education is no longer about listening to the teacher talk and absorbing the information.

In order to contribute to society, students will need to be able to acquire new information as problems arise. Then, they will need to connect the new information with the knowledge they already have and apply it to solving the problem at hand. They will not be able to call upon a teacher for answers, so will need to have ‘learned how to learn’ on their own.

In this classroom model, the teacher would act as a learning facilitator for the students. Instead of passively receiving information, the students would gather information on their own, under the guidance of their teacher.  Students are to be provided hands on activities. Multiple intelligence based activities, project based learning, problem based learning techniques etc could be most effective.  

2. Education should be collaborative

Students must learn how to collaborate with others. Students should be encouraged to work together to discover information, piece it together, and construct meaning. Collaboration should also be dynamic. Students should learn how to recognize the different strengths and talents each person can bring to a project, and change roles depending on those attributes.

Schools should also be collaborating with other educational institutions around the world to share information and learn about different practices or methods that have been developed. They should be willing to alter their instructional methods in light of new advancements. There are various platforms in the world like connecting classrooms, international school awards and so on.

3. Learning should have context

 While students are encouraged to learn in different ways, the teacher still provides guidance as to the skills that need to be acquired. The teacher can make a point of helping students to understand how the skills they are building can be applied in their lives. Students will be much more motivated to learn something that they can see the value in. Since we are no longer preparing students for specific tasks and roles, we need to take a more general approach and teach them the skills that are useful in any situation. Lessons have little purpose if they do not have any impact in a student’s life outside of the school.

4. Schools should be integrated with society

Education needs to help students take part in this global community and find ways of impacting more than just their neighborhood. This doesn’t mean that they do not need to learn the value of helping others around them and protecting their immediate environment, but that they should also be learning about how they can help and protect a world further away from them, but also closer all the time. The main theme of this approach should be think globally act locally. We need to know ourselves, our community, its ethical values and cultural diversities. The pupils need to collaborate with wider community. Schools should collaborate with the society. 

      So In this globally and digitally interconnected world, all learners, from cradle to career, need new skills and knowledge to succeed. If we want to prepare our children for success in school, work and life, opportunities to learn 21st-century skills are essential.