How Curriculum for 21st Century Must Look Like?

How Curriculum for 21st Century Must Look Like?

The students today are experiencing a world which changes more quickly than ever before. They live a faster and more connected life which not only provides them with numerous opportunities to learn but also expects a better performance from them compared to conventional educational methodologies.

What most of the educators believe is that the educational reforms must be done from the earliest stage like curriculum design.

Abdul Kalam, an eminent scientist and Missile Man of India once shared his conversation with a great lady who came from Finland to share the practices that helped their country to be placed at the top position in Innovation Index 2007.

When she was asked the question “How do you make your country the No. 1 nation in Innovation Index?”, her reply was as follows.

“Education, Education, Right type of Education and Women Education”.

Here, the term “Right type of Education” refers to creative education. According to Abdul Kalam, the first thing a nation needs to become innovative is creative education.

“Imagination leads to creativity, Creativity blossoms thinking, Thinking provides knowledge, Knowledge results innovation and Innovation makes the nation great.” – Abdul Kalam.

Creative education is the most advanced methodology in which classrooms, teachers and syllabus are imaginative. Creativity in an education system either in primary or in secondary education can surely be achieved by a creative curriculum. Especially, the 21st century education system requires a creative curriculum in order to make students more innovative as it’s surrounded by enough tech resources.  Let’s learn about how most of the educators expect 21stcentury’s curriculum to look like.

21st century curriculum:

21st century educational system has many educational technologies that make students more creative than ever before.

For Primary Education:

“In today’s education, the biggest reform needed is in primary education. At the age of 15, the children are very creative and to make them more creative, we need a classroom as well as the syllabus to be creative besides having a creative educator.”

For Higher Education:

In India, especially higher education organizations such as IITs, NITs and State Universities must follow the following aspects in their curriculum:

Research and Enquiry

Creativity and Innovation

Use of technology

Entrepreneurial leadership

Moral leadership

Research oriented Curriculum:

Studies show that most of the students in India who are interested in research prefer to go abroad. Not only India, but also many other countries which can’t provide a better research environment will undergo brain drain. What Abdul Kalam has suggested to all such organizations that offer under graduate courses is to make a part of their curriculum research oriented.

“The higher the research, the higher the teaching capacity moves.”

The time has come for us to include research in our curriculum. Instead of fighting against a huge syllabus, we must give priority to the research environment.

“The reform has to come from the evolution of new type of curriculum, teaching and classrooms”.

Curriculum that involves multi-departmental work:

What most of the organizations focus on is that they have a syllabus to be completed within a particular time period so that their students get good marks. 21st century education system tries not only to improve grades of a student but also to make him an independent learner. It should also help students to become multi-talented to withstand the current competitive world. So, the 21st century curriculum should include multi departmental work. For example, if we take a 4 year under graduate course, a part of the time period such as 8-9 months should be given a room for multi departmental work. When a student from Mechanical Engineering department works with Electrical and Computer Science students, he learns some basics to innovate something like an “Intelligent Line Sensor Robot”. This multi-departmental knowledge helps the student give better performance in his field.

Views of Educators about Creative Curriculum:

Basic Approach:

 An approach from Dr. Justin Tarte & Gerald Aungst regarding the curriculum:

An educator should consider the following questions in order to design an effective curriculum: what to keep, what to subtract, what to add, what to subtract (again).

National Curriculum (England):

The government has produced a new National Curriculum in England to improve the learning standard of students. Dame Reena Keeble, headteacher of Cannon Lane Primary School has explained how her school is preparing for the changes in the National Curriculum. A few exclusive points are as follows:

According to Reena, the new curriculum is clear in terms of expectations and allowing schools to teach it, plan for it and deliver it in the way they see it. Her job as the head is to prepare her school, staff and parents this year for the new curriculum that is about to start from September 2014. You may watch the full interview here.

“The New Curriculum represents a real opportunity to give all pupils the chance to become future creators & inventors”- Bett, an i2i learning technology event that takes place between 22 - 25th January 2014 (#BettChat)

Curricular Goals:

The following are the curricular goals of 21st century education system:


Curriculum must give preference to imagination as I’ve already included the quote, “Imagination leads to Creativity”. 

Problem solving nature:

Curriculum must improve students’ problem solving nature as it is a necessary skill every student should have.

Critical thinking:

Critical thinking is a process that leads to skills that can be learned, mastered and used. It’s a tool by which one can come about reasoned conclusions based on a reasoned process. If the curriculum includes more practical works and projects, students’ critical thinking can easily be improved.

Physical Exercises or Sports:

Studies show that physical exercises not only keep a student healthy and fit but also play a great role in improving one’s brain functionality. There is no doubt that if curriculum gives importance to Physical education and sports besides education, students will automatically develop both of their co-curricular as well as extra-curricular skills.

In addition to the above mentioned goals, 21st century curriculum has many other goals that we want to hear from you. Please share your views on how you want 21stcentury curriculum to be. The comment box awaits you.

About the Author
Author: Santosh Bhaskar KWebsite:
Devotee of Dr. Abdul Kalam. Following his path of Creating Creative Education in India. Contributing my works in "India Vision 2020". Former EdTech Blogger/Researcher at ETR India

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