It is hard to imagine a time when the opportunity and need to transform education has been greater. No matter whom you speak to, the person knows the fact that the education system is broken.
There is widespread consensus that our education systems are failing to adequately prepare all students with the essential 21st century knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in life, career and citizenship. But less are aware about the reasons behind the broken system.
Fundamental changes in the economy, jobs, and businesses have reshaped workplaces and the nature of work. Over the last several decades, the industrial economy based on manufacturing has shifted to a service economy driven by information, knowledge, innovation and creativity.
Here are the top reasons (most discussed in conversations) that are driving the need to change education.
- Workforce skills and demands have changed drastically but our education model has not kept pace with the changes in the workforce.
- Today, we are largely becoming a service economy but the shift in the 21st century to the “service economy” has not been reflected in the education model.
- Change has become the hallmark of our culture. It is a need to prepare students for a lifetime of change, but the education model does not prepare students to adapt to change.
- The universe of information is growing day by day, hour by hour and the rate of information change has increased dramatically. An education model based on memorization and content mastery won’t work today.
- And I can bet, when it comes to list of major societal changes, technology is on top. We can easily see these changes but the education model has not adopted it efficiently.
Teachers and administrators must be equipped with 21st century knowledge and skills and learn how to integrate them into their classroom practice for our nation to realize its goal of successfully meeting the challenges of this century. This is not a matter of teaching either academic or 21st century knowledge and skills. It’s about fusing the two, so that our children meet the demands of a global economy, as well as engage in good citizenship and participate fully in a vibrant and civil society.
What we do understand is that the challenges of embedding 21st century knowledge and skills are great. And great challenges require great leadership. Knowing them and taking action on them is the role of a leader today.
The challenge facing education is not to do a better job at what they are already doing, but to do a fundamentally different job. We are now in the business of preparing educators for a new world. To be college and career ready today, student learning must go beyond mastery of core subjects and include 21st century knowledge and skills like creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and technology literacy.
While skills like self-direction, creativity, critical thinking, and innovation may not be new to the 21st century, they are newly relevant in an age where the ability to excel at non-routine work is not only rewarded, but expected as a basic requirement. It is a requirement to be able to think critically, solve problems, communicate, collaborate, find good information quickly, and use technology effectively.
Traditional pedagogy and classroom learning environments bear little resemblance to the collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial, technology-rich environments students will face when they leave school. Students must be prepared to learn, produce, collaborate and create in these technology-intensive environments, which are ubiquitous in society.
What are your efforts in achieving these requirements? I would love to know and learn.