Our pupils for the 21st century?
Children born after 1995 are very different from those in formative years with
the mobile technology catalyzing and the world financial crisis. We have the
formation of a totally new generation.
Several major challenges stand out for children aged between 11 upwards.
Most schools operate in a traditional way that are foreign to the world in which
today’s students live. To think of a child communicating with their teachers by
email 5 years ago was un thought-of and such approaches were unacceptable
as safeguarding children was the held up card. Yet today, the same schools
allow pupils to communicate via email as well as the traditional face to face.
So how many times do adults text in a day? Research shows the average adult
sends 50 texts or WhatsApp a day? I recently had an animated discussion
with a group of head teacher regarding the using texts and additional forms
of technology for teachers to communicate with parents and schools.
Frankly, I find it short-sighted when I talk about the use of texting by parents
and children and I am looked at oddly. We are too slow to realising the same
people’s views in emailing. We adjusting too slow to IT and we are not
preparing these kids for the world as it operates today.
Just as we have adjusted to emailing we need to adjust to texting. Yes,
school admins do text parents on notices but this is not enough. Teachers,
students and pupils should be allowed to text. Another point is, children
are living in the most stimulating time in history with all sorts of technologies
around house. Children regularly tell me schools are boring; they are not
entertained, are not interested and are not fun. So what are we doing wrong?
Children know: adults don’t know everything, a good job might not be waiting
for them after school, and our schools are not performing as well as other
schools in the world and that we have lost our global competitiveness to
China and India. Yet, these countries are partnering their state education
with private companies who manage the curriculum and innovate teaching
to the real world.
More so, young students know pupils in other countries in the world are out
performing them in literacy and mathematical and science skills.
The single biggest asset to an economy is education. Over a 100 years ago,
when U.S textile owners recognized the need for an educated workforce they
forced through legislation requiring young people to attend school and this
formed the foundation of the U.S.economy.
The education was paid for by taxation, was available to all, and was free was
a revolutionary idea. Something we take for granted today in pre-higher education.
This model worked well for 100 years as it the skills students leaned matched
the needs of employers. However, what we also know that many job
opportunities that will be created in the future will not be industrial jobs but
knowledge-based. Even manufacturing needs it.
What is striking is the gap between what the educational system is churning
out and the job skill sets of the 21st century is enormously widening. And the
children know this. What can you suggest?
centres and Amena Motala is a tutor at the Huddersfield office.