Keeping Up: Teacher’s Need to Upgrade 

Representational Photo

How can we expect the modern learner to be prepared for 21st –century careers when they are not being taught 21st century skills? 

By Mushtaq Ahmed Rather 

SKILLS and competencies will determine the future rather than mere possession of degrees in the 21st century and there will be intense competition between human intelligence and Artificial intelligence (AI).Traditional jobs are increasingly going off the track due to disruptive innovation and technology. The 21st century will truly be knowledge based and technology driven and teachers  need to shift focus on continued skilling , reskilling and upskilling to prepare modern learners for 21st century challenges and opportunities.

Education is not static but evolves and changes with time. It should be used as a tool that will facilitate sustainable living and also provide opportunities to think critically, innovate and provide solutions towards local challenges that have global relevance.

The 21st century has necessitated a global shift towards inquiry, creativity, critical thinking, green inventions, passion, communication skills and leadership. Today’s age requires learners to move away from being mere recipients of black and white information to becoming co-creaters of knowledge. The evolving global scenario fuelled by emerging technologies and changing aspirations of the modern learner has thrown new challenges and demands for the existing education system. Keeping in view the emergence of these challenges and demands , the current lot of teachers have to search new ways and means to come up to the expectations of the modern learner.

In the existing century, the focus has entirely shifted on the students, therefore, a teacher has to establish and create learning experiences in a stress free environment wherein students can analyze and explore complex real life problems with the assistance of varied resources at their disposal and devise their own innovative alternative solutions to mitigate these complexities through collaboration and innovation.

In order to live up to the expectations of their students, teachers obligatorily need to have mastery of the latest teaching pedagogies that will mediate and catalyze critical and risk taking ability in students . With such mass scale transformations taking place in each and every sphere of life in the current century, it is inevitable on part of the teacher to up skill and fine polish his teaching approach .Therefore teachers need to up skill themselves on a continued basis if they have to prepare their students for tomorrow. The New Education policy (NEP) 2020 was enacted with the sole intention to address the aspirations of 21st century learners. The ultimate aim of NEP 2020, formulated after a gap of 34 years, is firmly rooted in the 21st century.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize the significance of life skills rather than blindly relying and acknowledging academic skills in pre-covid era. Life skills encompass a conglomerate of abilities and qualities such as critical thinking, communication skills, problem solving, adaptability, creative thinking and more. The acquisition of such life defining skills among modern learners is a distant reality unless the teachers are well versed and fully equipped. But are our teachers equipped to impart them to the modern learner? The gap between students’ needs and teachers’ skills is poles apart. How can we expect the modern learner to be prepared for 21st –century careers when they are not being taught 21st century skills? Our teachers need to be extensively trained and up-skilled thoroughly in domain specific knowledge, abilities and skills as well as in new pedagogical interventions. Not all of yesterday’s subjects are relevant to today’s students. Likewise yesterday’s teaching methods , strategies and techniques will not be as effective and catalyzing with modern learners because the way modern learners receive , assimilate and process information has changed altogether .

Technological advances in education have led to hybrid learning models that present an opportunity for students to skill themselves in digital education. The current blended education balances traditional teaching with digital modes, and will further pave the way for more integrated and technology led interventions. This transformation will ensure a continuity of education processes and introduce a cloud-based integrated platform that will bring all the stakeholders together.

Educational institutions across the globe have initiated creating 21st century learning environments in their premises on a mass scale and India should not lag behind in the race.

The union cabinet has approved a new scheme to transform more than 14000 schools throughout the country as lead schools to acquaint modern learners with 21st century skills and to achieve the objectives of NEP 2020 which are in sync with these skills. This centrally sponsored scheme has been launched with this intention to train teachers on the contours of innovative pedagogy, world class infrastructure and fine handling of technological driven educational tools in selected schools. These schools will strive towards ensuring quality education and create individuals equipped with key 21st century skills. This centrally sponsored initiative will be implemented with a total project cost of 27360 crore , with 18128 crore being the central share ,for ensuing five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27 .In these specially designated schools teachers are expected to shift to more experiential, holistic and integrated , play or toy based , learner centered , discussion based flexible and enjoyable pedagogical approach.

Additionally, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai in collaboration with UNICEF  India and SCERT Jammu and Kashmir had offered an extensive online training program on the theme “Constructive Teaching and Learning with Technology” to a selected lot of 300 teachers in first phase in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir during the academic year 2021-2022 . During this virtual  training program, teachers were practically taught in a lucid manner on how to integrate technology in curriculum and pedagogy .The teachers were introduced to a newer concept of TPACK, which is a collaborative framework that integrates three core knowledge areas: technological areas, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge. The essence of TPACK is how these areas work together to upgrade modern learner’s motivation and learning outcomes .TPACK is the assemblage of three knowledge areas which work in coordination to address modern learner’s 21st century learning needs .In the virtual training program , teachers were given assignments to use technological tools to create new knowledge and how it can be replicated by teachers with their students so that they actively integrate technological tools and be co-creators of new knowledge rather than being mere passive recipients of Information and Technology tools (ICT) .

On part of the teachers, reflecting on teaching practices lies at the heart of continuous professional development and stimulates self –awareness. Teachers can reflect on their pedagogical practices through their students and colleagues. Teachers of 21st century need to do periodic skill based assessments and evaluations which will help them improve pedagogical skills as per latest trends and on desired modern learner aspirations.It will truly facilitate teachers in creating a need-based upskilling plan that can surely give vent to their teaching careers to the next level.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

  • The author is a teacher 

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