Before I read these articles I was under the assumption that 21st century education was primarily meant to promote higher learning while teaching foundational skills that were necessary for college and effective critical thinking in the world at large. I also felt that the goal of 21st century education was to promote higher thinking as to create life long learners, who connected what they learned in the classroom with that of their daily lives; combining lived experiences with curriculum learning in an effort to become more informed citizens who could better serve, positively impact and progressively improve themselves, their communities and the world at large.
After reading these articles I now think somewhat differently about 21st century education. I still hold to my ideas of preparing students for postsecondary education and guiding them to connect their learning with the world so that they may make a positive impact, but I now understand that 21st century education is also about developing students who are immersed in the advancements of the world and seeing their benefit. Just a few short years ago when I was in elementary and middle school, computers were just on the cusp of entering their prime but now they have entered it and are tied to every facet of our daily lives. No longer are they some obscure and roughly understood machine but they are an integral part of how we communicate, learn and work. They are essential to how we conduct our lives. Through teaching students appropriate and proper uses of computers we can teach them to collaborate with each other more effectively, to create in a more unique manner and to take hold of their own education and begin to guide themselves in the directions they wish to go and pursue what interests them. Rather than just teaching them to utilize technology for school use, we are to teach our students to use technology in an effective manner that allows them to integrate their daily lives with the learning and to curate the internet in such a fashion that it remains accessible and beneficial to all: for academic and all other purposes. I have also come to realize that 21st century is very much about treating the student as an individual, coming to understand them personally and tailoring lessons to meet students needs. Not everyone learns the same and in the 21st century we need to more fully embrace that. Lastly I’ve come to realize that 21st century while focused on the student and imbuing them with a proper use of technology and guiding them to future success in the classroom and the world in terms of how they learn and connect with each other, it is also about preparing them for life in all regards and that in some areas we are lacking. In the 21st century we must also be preparing our students to enter the workforce/navigate the job market, we should be teaching them how to apply for jobs, manage their finances and some basic survival skills such as how to cook. While an emphasis on technology and advancement is important we must also embrace all facets of life in our schools so that students from any background will come out into the world prepared to succeed in every way possible and help their contemporaries in anyway possible.
All of this being said I still have a few questions;
- How can we better prepare our students for the outside world, in what ways can we help them learn to budget their finances? Should there be a class dedicated specifically to it, or should it be integrated into already existing classes such as mathematics and social studies?
- How can we integrate social responsibility into all classrooms, from sciences to literature? Not just digitally either but in terms of how we treat our environment and each other?
- As we help our students develop into life long learners, how can we help them to be more worldly? Rather than having them follow just one path of knowledge in one particular area, how can we help them to widen their horizons, encouraging them to actively research and pursue multiple areas on interest in an effort to help them be more rounded as individuals?