21st Century Education Reinventing the Classroom

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Amit Gupta

S Chand Group

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To say that there is a disconnect between what is being taught in classrooms across the country today and the expected skills a student needs to be ready for the 21st century workspace, is stating the obvious. In a world fast shrinking to a global village, skills like global literacy, computer literacy, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication and collaboration skills are essential for any child to grow up to be an effective and productive part of the society.

The emphasis is not just on knowledge of core subjects but also on 21st century interdisciplinary skills and the ability to assess available information, analyse it and be able to apply it to new situations. This highlights the underlying need for deep understanding rather than shallow knowledge. These standards engage students with the real world data, tools, and experts they will encounter in college, on the job, and in life — students learn best when actively engaged in solving meaningful problems and allows for multiple measures of mastery.

This is the mantra for success in the digital economy. This change begins in our classrooms where teaching – learning activities address the 21st century learning requirements of the students. And technology can be the catalyst for bringing about this change.

In a 21st-century learning environment, all students should be able to learn. Project-based learning allows students to acquire 21st-century skills in the context of real-world scenarios, and the integration of video and other media to support instruction links students with outside resources and enables teachers to address many learning styles at once. Never before have we had so much information as to how children learn and we must seize this opportunity to bring about much needed changes in the way curriculum transaction takes place in our classrooms. We must actually allow creativity in our children to blossom rather than stifle any desire for learning under the labour of rote learning and repetition. Motivating self- learning early in our students is the key to life-long learning.

The first prerequisite for developing a 21st century learning community is the involvement of all the stakeholders including district leaders, principals, teachers, students, parents, and the business community. It is imperative that all stakeholders be involved in putting together a road map to bring about the requisite changes in the educational system to prepare students for the workforce.

But the moot question here, so many discussion forums
later, is – how prepared are we really to address this urgent need? Are we giving the right direction to our students and preparing them for the world they are stepping into? Are our teachers adequately prepared and supported to be able to bridge the gap between the ground reality and the high expectations for 21st century learning? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

The solution lies in implementing changes in the way we teach. By training our teachers and empowering them to be able to use the tools and technology effectively in their teaching practices. By providing the basic infrastructure for sustained change in the form of technology – enabled learning environments. We need to provide spirally organised multimedia content based on sound pedagogical approach. This will ensure that the student can grow from one level of learning to the next, constructing new ideas based on their existing knowledge. Only if we address all these components of education can we provide an effective solution to the growing need for 21st century learning

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