Top-Rated Free Essay

student for 21st century

Good Essays
21st Century Learning: Preparing Students Today
August 28, 2012 by Sherrelle Walker, M.A

Today, we live in a world dominated by technology. Our interactions with the world and with one another are mediated by computers, tablets and smart phones. The answer to practically any question you might have, at any moment, is a few keystrokes and fractions of a second away. In the same way that print changed how humans perceive information, now technology has once again flipped the world on its head.
“We should seriously consider the claim that we are now undergoing one of the most significant technological revolutions for education since the progression from oral to print and book based teaching.”
-Dr. Douglas Kellner, UCLA, New Media and New Literacies: Reconstructing Education for the New Millennium
Preparing students for today’s world demands that education be delivered in a vastly different manner than what we see today in U.S. schools. In this world where information creation and discovery are taking place faster than we can bring that information to our classrooms, true 21st century learning must involve more than information literacy alone. Certainly, the traditional “3 Rs” – a shorthand way to talk about traditional content areas like reading, writing and arithmetic – play a core role in the 21st century classroom. (For the sake of argument, let’s have the 3 Rs include other traditional content domains like social studies and history.) But in this new world, those “content domains” become avenues for imparting a whole array of 21st century skills – skills that will allow students to function, learn and adapt throughout life in this post-modern world.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), one of a number of organizations advocating for a revamped educational system, says that for our young people to be able to compete in the global economy, they need more than the 3 Rs; a new “4 Cs” are also required: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation.
Similarly, the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in Washington DC breaks the same idea down into three areas (2012):
Cognitive skills: critical thinking and analysis
Interpersonal skills: teamwork and communication
Intrapersonal skills: resiliency, reflection and contentiousness
In the same way that handwriting is a skill that crosses every domain, likewise our students need these essential 21st Century skills if they are to be successful.
P21 has taken the lead to construct and advocate for the adoption of a complete framework for teaching 21st century skills that has become a touchstone among education leaders nationwide. This framework offers an expansive vision that brings core subject knowledge together with creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills; life and career skills; and information, media and technology skills. (2011)
While they are not in the majority, many districts and schools – public as well as private – have taken the lead and implemented 21st Century teaching and learning. What do these settings really look like?
According to 21st Century Schools, such settings “will be laced with a project-based curriculum for life aimed at engaging students in addressing real-world problems, issues important to humanity, and questions that matter.” (2012) When true 21st Century learning is taking place:
Schools stop being buildings defined by walls and times of day; they transform into community “nerve centers.” Walls become porous and transparent, and teachers and students become connected to the outside world, from the immediate surrounding community to people and knowledge across the planet.
Teachers stop being dispensers of data and become something more akin to coaches, imparting skills that help students become not just content experts, but expert learners.
Learners are excited by flexible, open-ended, project-based, real-world learning situations that not only teach content skills, but instill curiosity (fundamental to lifelong learning), develop communication and teamwork skills, and the freedom and responsibility that comes from taking charge of their own learning. (2012)
When we can look at a school and see these things happing in sync, we can be confident that the students are getting the great education they’ll need in the future. Creating 21st Century classrooms, schools and districts is no small order, but it is being done across the nation.
If you are one of those forward-thinking people who is reading this and saying, “It sounds amazing, but it’s just too much to undertake given our resources,” think again. If you are an educator, what one small change could you make that might transform the student experience?
Might you try grouping students more often for more team-based learning? Or embed the teaching of a math skill within the hands-on study of pond ecology? Or study an aspect of Chinese culture by setting up a virtual student exchange connecting students with their counterparts in Asia via Skype?
Once we begin to consider the possibilities of the 21st Century classroom, our schools become more than just places for preparing students for the next level of education. They become places where we truly prepare students for lifelong success and personal fulfillment.
And as educators, isn’t that our real goal?

by Jennifer Rita Nichols, TeachThought Intern
As educators, we constantly strive to prepare our students for the ‘real world’ that exists around them. We teach them how to read, write, and calculate. Then, of course, there are the less tangible skills we teach; such as how to work in a team, think critically, and be curious about the things they encounter each day.
We want to prepare them to lead productive and successful lives once they leave us and enter into the realm of adulthood. But what lies ahead for our students in the future? Did educators of twenty years ago know that so much of our world would be based on computers and technology now? Could they have known what skills would be needed in the job market today? Unlikely, but yet they had to do their best to prepare their students for this world anyhow. Nowadays, educators are still charged with the same complicated task – preparing students for the unknown.
Tony Wagner of Harvard University worked to uncover the 7 survival skills required for the 21st century. To accomplish this, hundreds of CEOs in business, non-profits and educational institutions were interviewed. A list of seven skills that people will need to survive and thrive in the 21st century was compiled from their answers.
We may not know exactly what lies ahead for our students in the future, but we have the advantage of knowing what skills they will need once they get there. Here are the 7 survival skills of the 21st century, along with how they may look being purposefully applied in a classroom.
Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Preparation: Students will need to develop their skills at seeing problems from different angles and formulating their own solutions. Regardless of the field they choose to enter for their careers, the ability to think and act quickly is an indispensable tool for the future. To practice this, teachers should present students with situations in which they need to figure things out for themselves – where skills that they have already developed can be drawn upon and applied to help them figure out a problem.
The problem should ideally lend itself to multiple solutions, as we do not want to teach students that there is only one answer available, but instead that problem-solving can be a creative and personal experience. Situational problems in mathematics provide a good example of these skills at work.
Skills: Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
Preparation: Not every person is born a natural leader.
However, the ability to lead others can definitely help a person to advance and become successful in their chosen career. Also, finding a job where you don’t need to be able to work closely and harmoniously with others can be quite a difficult task. To best prepare students in this area, more than just the typical teamwork is required. Instead of simply getting into a group and splitting the tasks with each other, students should instead be encouraged to take on different roles within their group for each task within the project.
Sometimes they can be the ‘manager’ and at other times they can be an ‘organizer’ or a ‘graphic designer’. There are many different roles that students can fill during a project with their peers that allows them to work with others in a more collaborative way than just breaking apart a project and then putting it back together in the end.
Skills: Agility and Adaptability
Preparation: If we look back at the last twenty years we can see how much has changed in the workplace and the world.
Our students need to be comfortable with the idea of change and be willing to adapt to the changes around them. Teachers can create a very dynamic environment within the classroom that can help to prepare students for the future. Varying the teaching strategies we use, the setup of the classroom, the ways that learning is demonstrated by students, and even the guidelines for group work or homework can help students learn to adapt.
Have students create a storyline, for example, then surprise them with a mandatory element to incorporate, or even have them switch work and complete a task based on the preparations of another. They might grumble at first, but the skills will serve them well!
Skills: Initiative and Entrepreneurship
Preparation: Students need to be able to take initiative and contribute to the world. We should encourage these skills within our classrooms and our communities. Our students can be incredibly creative and interested in shaping their experience in the classroom, so we can ask them for much more than a list of classroom rules and consequences.
Let them know that you are available and willing to listen to any of their ideas about improving the classroom or school. Help them organize their ideas and put them into practice – even if an idea may fail. It can be a valuable lesson about how to analyze what went wrong and consider how to improve the idea. Students should never be afraid of trying because they are afraid of failure.
Skills: Effective Oral and Written Communication
Preparation: Despite advances in technology, these skills never diminish in importance. Think of a boss or manager sending you an email full of grammatical errors or presenting a new business plan while speaking too low and reading the entire presentation off a sheet of paper. What would you honestly think? Consider some of the best communicators you have seen – what makes them rise above the rest? We need to teach our students how to speak confidently and clearly.
This doesn’t come naturally, but with practice; enunciation, speed, volume, gestures, and eye-contact can all be taught and learned. The same skills that help in drama can help in oral communication. Take a moment one day to begin teaching a lesson in a very ineffective way and see how long it takes your students to ask what you’re doing… they should be able to tell you exactly what’s ‘wrong’ with your communication skills! As for written communication, we need to continue to emphasize the rules while also teaching students how to use the technology available to them to help check their writing. The difference between formal and informal writing is quite important for students to learn and start applying.
Skills: Accessing and Analyzing Information
Preparation: Students have access to unimaginable amounts of information today. The Internet provides an incredible research tool that can be their best friend or worst enemy. Accessing information is easy, but accessing good information tends to be more complicated. Students need to be taught how to sift through the millions of web pages available on a topic and find what they need (and be able to trust what they find). They need to learn the difference between factual information and factual-sounding opinions.
Many students today will check ‘answer’ websites to gather information, not really thinking about how the information was written by a person who may or may not be correct or truly knowledgeable in a subject area. In the same way a teacher can ‘think-aloud’ reading strategies, we can think-aloud Internet searching strategies. Project your screen on the board and learn about a topic with your students. Show them how to search, and how to use those ‘answer’ sites without being misled!
Skills: Curiosity and Imagination
Preparation: Our students come to us naturally curious about their world and wanting to explore it. Their imaginations are vast and untamed, creating endless amounts of practical and impractical things. Our task as educators has less to do with teaching them how to be curious and imaginative, and more to do with not taking that away from them. We need to continue to encourage them to develop these skills, as well as teach them how to apply them creatively and purposefully. Imagine the little boy who loves soldiers and robots, but hates princesses.
How do you react when he shows you his freshly-drawn picture of a soldier using a robot-inspired weapon to destroy a princess? Do you celebrate his creativity in the same way you celebrate the world-saving-robot drawn by the student next to him? Is his picture hung on the wall? We don’t all like and appreciate the same things, so an educator must be very careful about how they nurture and develop their students’ creativity and imagination. We can teach them which things are appropriate in which situations without making them feel like their ideas are wrong or bad. Besides, the greatest horror writers have to begin somewhere!

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    In order to prepare students of the future, it is necessary to engage students with the aid of new technologies. Students of today are digital natives. They have grown up in a society filled with innovative technology. Technology is advancing in an accelerated pace. It is role of educators to keep pace with these advances and find new and innovated ways to facilitate student learning. “Traditional 20th century educational practices will no longer provide you with the skills you need to teach your students effectively how to become productive citizens in today’s high-tech, global workplace” (Shelly, Gunter & Gunter, 2012).…

    • 6466 Words
    • 26 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    In today’s American school system we thrive on absorbing as much information as humanly possible in subjects such as English, mathematics, science, and social studies. However, these subjects and various courses do not fully prepare students for the real-world. In the 21st century we live in a world of competition, technology, and hardships. Students need to be prepared for this transition and as of now; the current educational system is not doing a sufficient job.…

    • 553 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Camarda, Bill. “Technology in Schools: The Next Revolution Begins.” Eduplace.com. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.…

    • 190 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Educational Technology Plan

    • 5239 Words
    • 21 Pages

    As an educator in the 21st century, it is necessary to say that technology is the key to learning more effectively. In education today, we as educators have to step up and utilize technology in all areas of the classroom. Using technology, along with the guidance of the instructor, students are encouraged to be creative, complex thinkers, as well as being self-directed learners. Incorporating technology in today’s classroom, better prepares students to succeed in their chosen field and become a competitive part of our technology driven world.…

    • 5239 Words
    • 21 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Technology of the past 20 years has become a focal point of teaching and learning. As a teacher, it is my job to facilitate the learning for an individual by creating an environment that not only conducive for learning, but also places the child in a position to discover and learn them for themselves. Technology has given teachers to opportunity to take learning beyond the classroom, and has begun to reshape their role in the learning process.…

    • 1215 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Best Essays

    The technological advances in education have boomed in the recent years. Looking back to the early 1990’s, just 20 years ago, computers were an uncommon sight outside of universities and did not become a staple in public classrooms, library’s, and the middle to lower income houses until almost the turn of the century. Looking back at the scholars of just 30 years ago, they were still doing research the old fashion way, in the library. “As of 2003; 93% of all public instructional classrooms reported having access…

    • 1277 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Best Essays

    Enlglish101 Final Paper

    • 3623 Words
    • 15 Pages

    Cited: Collins, Allan, and Richard Halverson. Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press, 2009. Print.…

    • 3623 Words
    • 15 Pages
    Best Essays
  • Good Essays

    Tyner, Kathleen R., Literacy in a Digital world. Teaching and Learning in the Age of Information. 1998, Ashford University Library.…

    • 1164 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Cited: Postman Neil. “ The end of Education” Readings for the 21st century: tomorrows issues for todays students, fourth edition. Eds. William Vesterman and Josh Ozersky, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000. 277-283. Print.…

    • 857 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    5. Vesterman, William, ed. Readings for the 21st Century: Issues for Today’s Students. 5th edition. New York: Legmar, 2003.…

    • 1534 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    TECHNOLOGY - GOOD OR BAD?

    • 794 Words
    • 3 Pages

    After the Industrial Revolution, human beings came to a new era, which has brought about a drastic change to the whole world in all aspects of life, noticeably in the technological field, whose progress has been by leaps and bounds, and made what formerly believed impossible become a possible. It is obvious that there is a rush toward modern technology for teaching as well as learning nowadays. Learners, especially students have been very quick at embracing technology as the means to reach the most up-dated information in order to open themselves to the world as well as to see how the world touches them. Accordingly, with the help of modern technology, students can learn more information and learn it more quickly.…

    • 794 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Toppo, Greg. "Making students literate in digital age." USA Today 25 July 2011: 02A. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.…

    • 2122 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Legos

    • 4282 Words
    • 13 Pages

    Technology has shown a potential to transform what and how students learn in and out of the classroom. Innovations in technology have already significantly transformed the way society conducts business, communicates, and operates on a daily basis. Businesses and people are continuously being trained and developed in new technologies so they can keep pace in this innovation-focused society. The social change we have experienced with the pervasion of the computer over the last few decades has put pressure on the educational system in our country. Industry and society have an increased demand for…

    • 4282 Words
    • 13 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    2. Halverson, A. C. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology. New York: Teachers College Press.…

    • 2314 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    A great man once said, “If we teach today’s students as we did yesterdays, we are robbing them of tomorrow.” His name was John Dewey. He was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. This man is the inspiration for many enthusiastic educators, who wish to evolve education as the world around us changes, especially with the rapid reforms bestowed upon the education world through this monster that we call digital media. There is no running away from the fact that digital media has already changed the world. It’s not going to stop altering the world it was created in anytime soon.…

    • 1901 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Better Essays