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A thought on 21st Century Education


One of the educational buzzwords that I am attached to is ‘21st Century education’. I love it. And, while I am partly sure it is connected to my love of sci-fi and watching the Jetsons as a child, I think it encapsulates the idea that known-unknown that is how people will live and work in the near and far future. As a teacher, this interests me for several reasons. The first being that, as technology transforms our society at breakneck speed, this uncertain future is actually quite close. The second being that growing conviction that the way we educate children is not preparing them for this future.

A challenge for educators has always been how to make education as relevant as possible for learners; relevant not only for their future but also for their present. Contending with a society that is being rapidly transformed by technology, education has difficulty maintaining its relevance. I want to avoid cliched generalisations, but there is much truth in the idea that many of the jobs that primary aged children will do have not been invented yet. Perhaps more importantly, the way future workers will do those jobs will be the thing to change.

This change, driven by technology is changing what it means to be literate in the 21st Century. My interest is in children’s writing. As children will likely need to become more socially, culturally and financially self-representing in the future, how they communicate this will require them to be flexible, adaptable and – yes – creative in how they do this. It is up to educators to respond.

Where is this thought going next? What could the English programme of study look like if we made it more about independence and problem solving?


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