How to prepare students with 21st century skills

How to prepare students with 21st century skills

With the advent of new technologies and industries, the world has witnessed significant changes in the world of work over the last decade.

But are schools keeping up with these changes? After all, schools are places where children are taught the skills they will need once they enter the workforce, whatever that may look like by the time they’re adults.

According to Dr Peter Webster, principal of the Catholic Learning Community of John XXIII, the industrial model for education must be considered “over”, and so it is vital that school leaders respond in a purposeful way and keep ahead of the curve. 

“The skills and capabilities that students require in the post-industrial world are needed now,” Dr Webster told The Educator.

“Our students need to be able to be agile critical thinkers, be able to connect and collaborate with people across various mediums and they need to solve real world problems.”

Dr Webster, who will address the Education Leaders Summit in August, will speak about how schools can best prepare students for the 21st century and navigate the challenges that future workplace will pose.

“We are nearly 20 years into the 21st Century and the time to act is immediate,” Dr Webster said.

“Individual schools and need to address their thinking and practice to ensure each student has a personalised pathway into meaningful participation in their world.”

Dr Webster said that while this task is often considered one for senior secondary schools, the skills and capabilities need to be developed from the earliest years of schooling.

“This change to an inquiry-based pedagogy must be a priority for future prosperity of our nation,” he said.

“Gathering like-minded people to discuss real world issues is vital to the evolution of education. Education is the vehicle for modern societies to advance and prosper.”

Another topic that Dr Webster will address at the Summit in August is the value of listening and seeing contemporary learning in action, which he said is often the critical step in a leader making the courageous decision to making change.

“School leaders are in a challenging situation as they deal with the final breathes of the HSC. The HSC has been focused on content until recent changes that provide opportunities for student to engage in an inquiry-based pedagogy,” Dr Webster said.

“In this context many principals and schools were rewarded or deemed successful by tutoring students in content and prepared responses.”

Webster said the real world requires the contemporary student to be agile, to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and to be able to function inter-independently with other connected students.

“The school, student and family sole focus on an ATAR needs to be readjusted, as this priority is not catering for the majority of students,” Dr Webster said.

“The OECD, along with many other countries, are now focusing on the skills and capabilities that are required for the current and future workforce. Australian schools need to adjust now.”

The Educator Leaders Summit will be held at Dockside Sydney on Friday 17 August.

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