The way we access and consume information has changed forever with technology developed over the past 20 years. The sources too have changed considerably beyond just the traditional media we are used to. This has had massive ramifications with which we perceive education and its overall dynamic in the 21st century.
I ask myself, how can we make education and learning more relevant to the internet generation?
We now live in a world where there is a prevalence of gadgets and computers in our daily lives. We are comfortable surrounding ourselves with mobile devices, smart phones, laptops, tablets and use them all for entertainment and work.
So why are we not yet fully embracing technology into our schools curriculum?
Yes there are those who say that technology and the internet is affecting children’s attention span, creating further distractions to their school work.
Maybe we should be looking at this differently.
Perhaps we should have a new approach and try to meet them in the middle. The internet, games and technology are here to stay, and I believe its time we seriously look at how we can tap into them and make them work positively for education and revolutionising the way kids learn today.
The reality of the 21st century is that knowledge is now free because the internet opens up new ways of learning and communicating for everyone on the planet. The question is how can we can harness all that information and channel it effectively to set students in the right path?
This problem nags at me constantly because we truly live in a culture of instant gratification. It is the Youtube, Google and Wikipedia generation, when we want answers we, pull up our smartphones or computers and find them in seconds.
Society and culture is fixated and addicted at the how the speed of the internet feeds our addiction to the instant. In a world of instant information, instant answers and instant gratification, kids run the risk of missing out the enjoyment of learning and understanding of math, science, the arts, music and literature.
In order to correctly guide kids away from this trap, we need to arm and train them with skills that will prepare them for the new world. I believe that there are core competencies that kids will need coming into the 21st century way of living:
- First of which is the ability to ask the right questions and exercise critical thinking. It sounds obvious but it sometimes needs to be said that we really need to ensure people look at things objectively and ask the tough questions.
- Collaboration across networks is another skill, leading by influence so they can learn to be leaders and thinkers one day. Agility and adaptability requires kids to think and adjust their strategies in solving problems they come across in school and life.
- Something that is extremely important especially when people move on to their careers and working life is developing initiative and entrepreneurialism. This prepares them to be responsible individuals who can take charge at running and organising projects or even companies.
- Accessing and analysing information is also another skill to develop as it will enable kids to understand how to use technology and demonstrate the ability to identify new sources of information.
- Finally we come to curiosity and imagination which enables kids to become truly creative thinkers and come up with novel ways of solving problems.
Schools and teachers today should focus on teaching kids that they can be innovators. Kids should be given the chance to solve different kinds of problems in more ways.
We need to have a very different vision of education, of teaching and learning in the 21st century. The system needs to be reinvented, not just reformed.
I will be talking more about what this transition entails next time, in the application of neuroscience to education and learning. Thanks for reading!