What is 21st Century Learning and Why Is It Important?

As our world recognizes increased globalization, 21st century learning refers to the skills and technologies that will position our students to succeed in a world that ever increasingly requires collaboration, critical thinking, adaptability, grit, perseverance and relies less on the learning of facts and data. The how and why of learning becomes central and is far more important than the what or who from past models. Students must approach lifelong learning with a flexible mindset as they tackle 21st century issues. They must learn to work with and listen to a variety of points of view.

As a world we are seeing that there is more and more need for global cooperation and by the time our current students enter the work force that will increase exponentially. As such, current classrooms need to be transformed into global classrooms where a variety of cultures are explored and discourse around justice and tolerance become essential components. Teachers need to demonstrate their willingness to change, be flexible and avoid rigidity; to be willing to try new things and fail. From failure comes grit and the ability to move on from something that doesn’t work to something that does work. Students must be encouraged to try, to be allowed to fail and from that failure learn and move on. Parents need to support this at home.

As we inspire students to be lifelong learners, we must focus on collaboration, systems thinking, developing empathy, ease in communication and the use of technologies that serve to help us tackle real world issues.

Project based learning and group work is the standard in education today. Listening to different points of view, working with a variety of people with each contributing to the whole is a hallmark of 21st century learning. Creating systems to tackle real world problems; brainstorming ways to solve a problem and trying a variety of potential systems until one works is how great discoveries are made.

Understanding that there are people with many different talents, strengths and opinions; assuming good will when embarking on a task and listening intentionally to others points of view are ways to help foster empathy. Approaching a task from the notion that you have much to offer and much to learn is also a fundamental tenant of empathy. Our students must be comfortable with public speaking, expressing their ideas verbally as well as in written format.

Technology plays a big part in 21st century learning. The use of podcasts, audio and video blogs and online learning all play into how education is moving and is significant in high schools and universities. Our focus at MPS is in developing basic computer skills including the ability to navigate the Internet for research. The Internet is the connection to our global world. Students will acquire Internet navigation skills as they move through our program. The vast array of resources on the Internet provides a wealth of data and students will learn to filter the essential from the nonessential; to incorporate visual images and graphics. The use of the interactive White Board is a valuable classroom tool. Students will have facility with iPads and laptop computers.

21st century learning will help our students thrive and survive at MPS, high school, university and the work place.

 Jeff Escabar

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