There are three major disruptions happening around us that are making education as we know it obsolete, and presenting a case for redefining schools in the 21st century. In today’s world, tradition and history of the school, imposing infrastructure, or the examination board that the school is affiliated to are not the determinants of success for your child. In fact, they could be the very reason your child is not successful. Wondering why? Read on.
Disruption #1: Ease of access to information
The first major disruption is that information is now easily accessible, and teachers are no longer the guardians of information and knowledge. Information today is freely available online, and is growing at an unthinkable rate. So, in essence, a student with a keen interest in a topic can find out a lot more about it in a day than a teacher (with no interest in the topic) would ever know in a lifetime.
What does this mean for schools and educators?
It means that the role of a teacher in a child’s life is changing to that of a facilitator and a mentor. As a facilitator and a mentor, our role is to:
- Respect, kindle, and nurture a child’s interests.
- Teach them to ask good questions.
- Empower them to dig deeper, research, and collect their thoughts.
- Enable them to swim through the data and not drown in it.
- Bring their focus back when they get overwhelmed or distracted by daunting tasks or a mountain of information to wade through.
- Help them systematically organize the data for access in the future without hassle.
- Show them the difference between active and passive consumption of information, and how to remain safe while doing so, making them discerning citizens of the digital age in the process.
Disruption #2: Our hyper-connected world
The second major disruption is that the world is increasingly connected. Our children are more global citizens than ever before, and we can’t imagine teaching them through narrow frameworks or prejudiced views of the world anymore.
Shifting roles of schools and educators
We need to offer them a wider diet of stories and context that enable them to dispel myths, question assumptions, develop empathy, widen their perspective, uncover points of view, and hopefully discover their unique identity in the process. Also, what’s interesting is that so many of our children and young adults are identifying themselves very closely with the roles they play online, and are blurring the lines of existence between the online and offline worlds.
In light of this understanding, it’s our role as mentors of these children to:
- Empower them to be confident to communicate their thinking emphatically.
- Truly listen to others.
- Not fall prey to the all-pervasive herd mentality.
- Learn to stand up for themselves when required, and know when to yield.
- Learn to distinguish between friends, distractions, fellow travelers, and soul mates in a world that is increasingly virtual.
- Equip them to build communities, be leaders, solve problems, and learn to believe in possibilities.
- Empower them to leverage the connected world to contribute in ways unheard of before.
Disruption #3: The uncertain future
The third major disruption is that the future is largely uncertain. If what we hear is true, that our children in 20 years are going to be doing jobs and contemplating careers that have not been invented yet, then how do we prepare them for this uncertain future?
What should learning deliver for our children today so that they can be successful tomorrow?
Critical skills our children should be focusing on in early in their learning years include:
- Learning to deal with failure, and abstracting lessons out of mistakes, to keep moving forward.
- Having a fair understanding of how they learn.
- What sparks their interest, and learn to carry that thread to new avenues as they emerge.
- Dealing with change, and learning to wade through uncertainty.
- Learning to collaborate and work with others.
- Seeing problems as challenges.
- Having the basic language, math, thinking, and emotional literacy to manage situations as they present themselves.
- Connecting the dots constantly to see new paths emerge to solve problems and to innovate.
Disruptions lead to emergence of new models of learning
Envisioning how these disruptions will play out in our children’s lives opens up a whole lot of new questions, and necessitates paradigm shifts in how we are thinking about education and schooling today.
One thing is for sure – no matter what board or curriculum the school chooses to follow, no matter how much infrastructure they lay out and what history the brand stands for, if they are not gearing up to cater to these disruptions happening in our children’s lives, they are not really equipping your child for the future.
Your child needs to learn to enjoy the process of learning, and not merely be excited by the notion of finishing school, getting some marks, and forgetting about it. Let’s set newer parameters to search for schools in the 21st century, schools that will enable your child to learn to learn, to find joy in their learning journey, inspire and empower them to succeed on their terms, and make their learning journey a worthwhile experience for life – because nothing less will do!
Featured image is for representational purpose only. (Source: Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL, CC BY 3.0, GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
At Sparkling Mindz Global, we are creating a 21st-century school that inspires confident learners. You can find out more about us online, or get in touch with us at +91-99000-80331 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.