Archive | 21st Century Learning RSS for this section

Information Overload

Photo by Will Lion

We live in a world where knowledge is at our fingertips. If you have a question – ask Google. What did we do before Google? For me, as a child in the 1950′s and 60′s, my teacher was my ‘Google’. It was the teacher who had the knowledge and we went to school to learn from them. My access to knowledge at home was limited to a very cheap children’s encyclopaedia, which soon became out of date.

The role of teachers today needs to change – they are no longer the ‘wise guardians of knowledge’. In the world we live in, information is easily accessible through a myriad of technological devices.

The following Infographic shows what happens on the web every 60 seconds!

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

 Anthony Chivetta, a High School Student in Missouri, is credited with saying’

The need to know the capital of Florida died when my phone learned the answer. The students of tomorrow need to be able to think creatively; they will need to learn on their own, adapt to new challenges and innovate on-the-fly.”

Have you ever considered just how much ‘your phone knows’?

Teachers today have to be guides, showing children where the information they want can be found, but more importantly how they can navigate their way through the wealth of data out there to ensure relevance and accuracy.

It is time to rethink the role of the teacher in the classroom and this will inevitably make us re-think the role of learning.

In 1605, Sir Francis Bacon, the father of scientific thinking, outlined the ‘habits of mind’ needed in research:

  • Nimble & versatile to see relationships among things, in addition to subtle distinctions between them.
  • Inquisitive.
  • Patient enough to doubt and ask questions.
  • Fond of reflecting.
  • Slow to assert and ready to consider multiple points of view.
  • Careful to support their points of view and to formulate an argument with reasons and evidence.
  • A slave neither to passing trends nor to established traditions but capable of judging  the credibility of sources and making independent judgements about information.
  • Alert to all deception.

Do you think that these ‘habits of mind’ are as essential in 2012 as they were in 1605? What do you believe are the important skills needed to develop critical thinking in 21st Century learners?

What Are ‘The Basics’ In Education?

survey of American companies concluded that the 4 C’s –

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Communication Skills

…… are as important as the more traditional 3R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Once upon a time mastery of the 3R’s was enough to get you a job – but the world is changing.

Proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic has traditionally been the entry-level threshold to the job market, but the new workplace requires more from its employees. Employees need to think critically, solve problems, innovate, collaborate, and communicate more effectively—and at every level within an organization.

Yet we still want to test our children on reading, writing and maths only. What assessments are schools undertaking to measure the attainment of children in critical thinking & problem solving, creativity and innovation, collaboration, and communication skills?

According to the survey results, executives said these skills and competencies are priorities for employee development, talent management, and succession planning.  In addition, job applicants are assessed in these areas during the hiring process.

Thomas Friedman, in his book, ‘The World Is Flat’, gave the following advice to his daughters:

Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, “Tom, finish your dinner – people in China and India are starving.” My advice to you is: “Girls, finish your homework – people in China and India are starving for your jobs.” And in a flat world, they can have them, because in a flat world there is no such thing as an American job. There is just a job, and in more cases than ever before it will go to the best, smartest, most productive, or cheapest worker – wherever he or she resides.

The world is changing. Accountants in India are preparing tax forms for citizens across the world, online. Radiologists in Asia read X-rays taken in North America. If educators are to prepare young people for this new world we must assume that they have some idea of what to prepare them for. I fear that this is not the case.

In the following video you can listen to what Sir Ken Robinson thinks. These are the highlights from his talk in March 2011 at Learning Without Frontiers – ‘Out Of Our Minds – Learning To Be Creative’