THE 21ST SKILLS AND LIFELONG LEARNING
How am I supposed to teach my students TODAY when what I’m teaching them now will be irrelevant by the time they turn around? The jobs they’ll have when they are my age, have yet to be invented. How can I possibly prepare them for that? What do we really know about today’s youth? As educators, do we truly understand how they think, learn, communicate, and socialize? As if you didn’t know by now, they don’t perform any of the aforementioned skills in any manner like the youth of years past. Our students live in a digital world, altered by ever-changing technology (21st Century School, 2008).
However, as Dr. Michael Wesch points out, although today’s students understand how to access and utilize these tools, many of them are used for entertainment purposes only, and the students are not really media literate ( 21st Century Schools, 2008). The digital generation has unknowingly incorporated 21st Century skills into their day-to-day lives by becoming innovators, creative designers, critical thinkers, collaborators, and complex problem-solvers. While these students are having fun, they are also learning (Richardson, n.d.).
What is PLE that many educators are talking about today? A PLE (personal learning environment) is: a system that helps learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning, manage both content and process, and communicate with others in the process of learning (Cann, 2008).
In a nutshell: Students being responsible and engaging in their own learning. Students actually taking an active role and participation in education, gee, why didn’t we think of this earlier? Because, we didn’t have to the tools needed. We had all the talent in the world, but couldn’t quit give to our students what they needed. We can now. John Dewey, a well-known educational reformer, says it best, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” Why not step outside our comfort zones and reach out for the future? The traditional educational view of drill and practice and test taking is a difficult concept to abandon or reconsider for many educators (21st Century Schools, 2008) Lewis Carroll summed it up nicely when he said in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,
“One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
21st Century Schools. (2008). Possibilities of the 21st century. Retrieved Sept. 15, 2009, from http://www.21stcenturyschools.com/What_is_21st_Century_Education.html
Richardson, Cathleen. (n.d.). Hot chalk-Possibilities of the 21st century. Retrieved Sept. 15, 2009, from http://www.hotchalk.com/mydesk/index.php/editorial/54-students/100-21st-century-learners-an-introduction.html
Cann, Alan, J. (2008). What the heck is ple and why would I want one? Retrieved Sept. 15, 2009, from http://www.microbiologybytes.com/tutorials/ple/index.html