21st century education



The above line made me think about the current scenario of education and the shift in the role of the teacher and the learner. The learner of today is learning differently in this digital age and our teaching pedagogy needs change to connect better with these students.

Our children (Hi tech Mini Adults) are living and growing up in the tech culture. They are learning and interacting mostly through screens be it the television, the internet or mobile screen. Their learning is happening anywhere and anytime and is self-directional. Our earlier generations did not have access to so many gadgets and gizmos as the generation of today. In this era of globalization and technology, we all need some essential skills for better communication and learning.

In this century, there is a bombardment of information. There is a lot of exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing in this era. Thinking critically and creatively is the skill a teacher needs to develop in her students for their success in future. Communication Technology and Networking are the tools of today and tomorrow. Collaborative and collective approach for better solutions is the need of the hour.

In many of our situations, our degrees do not solve our problems but our inner strengths do. Therefore, students need to learn life-skills to meet challenges of everyday life in healthy, responsible and acceptable ways. We need to teach core subjects for a strong foundation but students should develop competence in problem solving, decision making and many more skills. We need to focus more on skills and less on content.

Education should have relevance to what one is learning and what he/she is putting to use. Education does not mean getting good marks without good character and values.

Marks should not be the only criteria to judge a student. Albert Einstein rightly said, ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

Albert Einstin also said

‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.’ Gone are the days of mugging the facts and reproducing them in exam hall. Each child is unique and we need to work towards the holistic development of children. Opportunities should be there for the children to develop Mentally, Physically, Socially, Emotionally, Morally and Spiritually. Creativity needs to be encouraged.

Swami Vivekananda rightly laid emphasis on harmonious development of the mind, body and soul through education.

Children learn what they live. We are all racing towards a very materialistic life. Children do not respect their teachers /elders and are very casual in their relationships. Is it not important to inculcate good values in children rather than leaving huge amounts of wealth for them? Outsourcing of parenting is a common occurrence today.

We are already moving at a very fast pace and ten years hence would be faster. Some of the current issues we are faced with are shortage of water, scarcity of quality food, rise in crimes, environmental pollution, terrorism, etc. The nature of diseases has changed too. High use of toxic chemicals is causing lot of allergies in people. Our sedentary life style is giving birth to more and more problems like depression and stress. Sitting long hours on computers is causing posture problems and electro-magnetic pollution is the new threat today. Our curriculum needs to sensitize children about these global issues and their solutions. The threats of HIV/Aids need to be told to our youngsters. The media can play a very active role in educating and empowering our children.

Prevention is better than cure. Helen Keller rightly said, ‘The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.’

Teachers have a bigger role to play as agents of change in the 21st century.

Alvin Toffler says, ‘Illiterates in the 21st century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’ Teachers now have to unlearn, learn and relearn their roles in this digital century.

Meenu Bhargava is a Post Graduate in Psychology from Jodhpur University. She has a rich experience of 30 years in the field of Counseling and training. She is a freelance practitioner and is involved in teacher training, parenting seminars and student workshops. Her clients are from play schools to reputed senior secondary schools and colleges across India.

She has contributed to the society and schools with her counseling programmes, career fairs and psychometric assessments. She believes that the best quality of a teacher is her willingness to learn from all be it children, books or technology. Meenu runs her own Counseling Centre at Kaushambi( Ghaziabad)