21st century education

21st century education

A new and exciting approach to teaching


It seems that as each new school year rolls around there is an accompanying education trend that promises to revolutionize teaching. Over the years we've seen brain-based learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, child-centered learning, student-centered learning....the list is endless.

And no sooner has one approach been accepted and implemented than some other group of academics have picked the theory to shreds and called for a return to traditional learning. And it's not just the ESL World that is subject to this merry-go-round. In the UK, the Education Secretary, Michael 'U-Turn' Gove, has been at loggerheads with educators over a wide range of policies to raise education standards by; scrapping coursework, scrapping GCSEs, introducing longer teaching days, shorter holidays, a greater emphasis on rote learning and a return to the educational philosophies of the 1950s.

But while some politicians and academics seem intent on change for the sake of change, most educators would agree that there is a serious need to re-evaluate today's education systems. The actual structure of the modern education system has changed little since its conception during the industrial revolution of the 19th century. We live in a world that is rapidly transforming and our students deserve an education system that is relevant to the 21st century.

There has been much debate about exactly what a 21st century education should look like with academics producing long-winded articles packed full with migraine-inducing jargon... but not a lot of change has actually taken place in the classroom. The sad fact is that much of what is happening in the classroom today is no different to what has been happening for the past 50 years.

According to some educators, sociologists and economists, the challenges that today's students will encounter after they graduate include -
+ Many of the skills they are learning in school today will be obsolete by the time they graduate
+ Many of today's students will have over 5 different careers during their lifetime
+ Many of the occupations that our students will have are yet to be invented

So how can we as educators prepare our students for a world we are unable to envision?

Clearly this is a question that cannot be answered overnight. So I hope you can forgive my skepticism when the director of the school at which I work, Ajarn Varee Patravanich, introduced me to a 21st century framework which she believed would go some way to tackling these critical issues.

Well, the first thing I noticed was that this was an education framework developed by an American organization called 21st Century Partnership made up of academics, policy makers and prominent members of the business community. Now the idea of these collaborations between multinational companies and education policy makers generally fill me with dread ... some kind of Orwellian nightmare in which schools create fodder to feed an insatiable capitalist machine. So you can imagine my surprise (and relief) on discovering this 21st Century Framework is not only clear and concise but it actually makes good common sense.

This 21st Century Framework can be summarized in a beautifully simple way.
Today's learners need to develop the 3Rs + the 4Cs

The 3Rs - Reading, Writing & Arithmetic

These have been central to education all though the 19th and 20th Century. In this Framework the 3Rs include all core subject knowledge, thus reinforcing traditional education.

The 4Cs - Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration & Creativity

When I first read these 4Cs I have to admit I was surprised.... I wasn't expecting such great common sense. I mean these are educational concepts from the dawn of Western education. The type of skills Socrates challenged his young student Plato to develop in the 4th Century B.C. And it's not just the Great Greek Thinkers that valued these skills. Other great thinkers from Rousseau to Chomsky have argued that education should place a greater value on creativity and critical thinking.

Leaving behind the world's great thinkers and moving forward to Thailand in the 21st century, lets consider why these skills are so important. Well firstly, how many people do you meet on a regular basis that make a living on their core subject knowledge alone? A far greater number of people rely on their ability to communicate, create, work in teams and solve problems. These are skills which have no 'sell by date' and from which our students can benefit.

So this 21st Century Framework is clear, concise, makes sense and it's nicely packaged...this is beginning to sound too good to be true. The question now is how will it fare in classrooms across Thailand?

Well at Varee Chiangmai School were I work, it has made a promising start. The concept received a warm reception from over 40 English Teachers during a recent professional development workshop. Many of the teachers explained that developing these 4Cs is good teaching practice which teachers should already be doing.

Other teachers made the point that in Thailand where individual assessments and quantifiable scores are constantly demanded by parents, administrators and the MoE some juggling (and creative thinking) was going to be required on the part of the teachers.

One thing that I personally like about this approach is that regardless of whether or not your school adopts it, you can as teachers in the classroom help your students develop these vital skills through projects, activities, group work and student-centered learning. It's something that you can adopt today to help your students prepare for the world of tomorrow and surely that's a good reason in itself....

If you want to know more about 21st Century Education, I suggest you watch this video and also pay a visit to the 21st Century Skills website




Comments

@Alice, Wonderland
Re: Your question "What methods have you found to be effective in teaching your students critical thinking?"
Why not try Project-Based Learning (PBL)

By James S. saentaweesook, Bangkok (25th April 2018)

I have a tough time teaching my Asian students critical thinking skills. I think they usually focus on rote memorisation and tend to just regurgitate word for word what is written in their books. What methods have you found to be effective in teaching your students critical thinking?

By Alice, Wonderland (25th April 2018)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

Ideal English Academy

฿40,000+ / month

Bangkok


Tonlew International Kindergarten

฿40,000+ / month

Chon Buri


TEFL International

฿70,000+ / month

China


DaDaABC

฿63,000+ / month

Online


Maejo University

฿35,000+ / month

Chiang Mai


Pride ISM

฿50,000+ / month

Myanmar


Featured Teachers

  • Dr. Brian

    Dr.


    British, 62 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • David

    David


    British, 34 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Samantha

    Samantha


    South African, 25 years old. Currently living in South Africa

  • KAKOOZA

    Kakooza


    Ugandan, 29 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Jenelyn

    Jenelyn


    Filipino, 27 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Greg

    Greg


    British, 34 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

Sponsors

No TEFL required.

Top TEFL job placement provider with competitive benefits and an unforgettable experience.

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.

We get you a job! Options for school placements all over Thailand

Brokers for ajarn health insurance and for all your Thailand insurance needs.

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

The Hot Spot


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.