A new vision for education in the 21st century

S. M. Rayhanul Islam
Thursday, May 11th, 2017


 

We are living in an increasingly globalized and first changing world of the 21st century which offers both opportunities as well as challenges. Societies everywhere are undergoing deep transformation, and this calls for new forms of education to develop our children as the human resources. So, what type of education do we need for the 21st century? How can education best prepare young people to fulfill their potential in a rapidly changing world? What is the purpose of education in the current context of societal transformation? How should teaching-learning be organized? What transformative skills should our children acquire to meet the multi-dimensional challenges of 21st century? Farhana Mannan’s book “Ekush Shatak: Onyo Rokom Shikkhar Shondhane” attempts to answer these crucial questions. It also explores how digital technologies have revolutionized education.  The book also draws our attention towards some contemporary educational issues and challenges which need to be addressed for developing our children as competent as well as enlightened citizens of 21st century.

 

The book is divided into four main parts. Part one provides an overview of 21st century education. By making comparison between 20th and 21st century education, this chapter focuses on the essential 21st century skills; i.e. creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills, collaboration and communication skills, digital literacy skill, social skill, leadership skill, and ethics and accountability. The author discusses why a 21st century student needs to acquire critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students who know how to analyze and critique ideas and solve a problem are able to make connections across disciplines, see knowledge as useful and applicable to daily life and understand content on a deeper, more lasting level. Digital literacy is another important skill in the 21st century which, the author believes, should be given emphasis. Being an informed citizen is a large part of being a responsible citizen, not to mention that the more digitally literate students are, the better prepared they will be for the workplace or higher education.

 

The second part of the book examines how digital technologies have revolutionized the 21st century education. Digital technologies challenge the traditional approaches of classroom teaching-learning, and the way education is managed. The author argues for introducing a new model for understanding and exploiting the pedagogical potential of Web-based technologies. Teachers’ digital literacy skill is a must for using digital technology in the classroom. Recognizing the ‘Professional Learning Community (PLC)’ as an effective model of teachers’ professional development, Farhana Mannan shows how 21st century educators can engage with online platforms to create an unbounded field of emergent connections. These connections empower teachers, allowing them to draw from one another’s expertise to formulate and fulfill their own professional goals.

 

Part three focuses on the preparation of formal education for a child. It is true that there is no perfect age when a child begins his learning. But a child can be prepared for formal education at the very early age through ‘play’. Although play is important for people of all ages, it is especially meaningful and important for young children. Actually play is their work, and they give a tremendous amount of energy and effort to it. There are at least three ways in which play is important for young children: skill development, social development, and imagination and creativity. Learning occurs in all areas of development as young children play. Play with other children is crucial for the development of social skills. But, in an era of rapid urbanization our children remain confined within apartments where they have hardly any scope to play. In this regard, the author suggests for creating ‘play centers’ exclusively for children at the different areas in the city.

 

In the last part of the book, the author attempts to analyze some contemporary educational issues relevant to 21st century education. They are: reading textbooks, creative teaching-learning, developing reading habits, learning languages, adolescent sex education, performing art, and so on. Our education system in the 21st century must equip young children with the ability to think critically, solve problems effectively and respond to and thrive within a changing society. In this regard, this book will obviously be beneficial to the educational planners, teachers, parents and other stakeholders.

 

The writer is an independent researcher. E-mail: smrayhanulislam@hotmail.com

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