British Council

 Written by Lola Osikoya, Acting Principal of Springfield Preparatory School in Midrand 

The 21st Century Learner

“However, in the 21st century, the true set of rigor is for students to be able to look at material they’ve never seen before and know what to do with it.” - James A. Bellanca (Acting director, Illinois Consortium for 21st Century skills)

The above quote by James A. Bellanca summarises for me what the 21st century core skills is about. Recently the teachers at my school attended an innovative teacher development program facilitated by the British Council for educators and school leaders called Connecting Classrooms. This involves training educators and school leaders on how to inculcate the 21st century core skills into their teaching so that today’s learners, after leaving school, will have a global outlook in their thinking, independently solve problems and be critical thinkers to provide solutions to the world’s problems. 

We are excited to be part of this program because; it is a learning curve for us, it is an opportunity for self-development, it increases our value as educators and it is exhilarating to be part of the future. 

The 21st century core skills include:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Creativity imagination
  • Student leadership
  • Digital literacy
  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration and communication

I believe these core skills are very important because the world has become a global village, and all these skills will be needed for our young people to successfully function, live and work together. All too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. 

In today’s world, being digitally literate is not an option, it has become a necessity. Consequently, for us as educators, we need to be able to use technology ourselves in order  to encourage our learners to be digitally literate and make the most of the technology available.

In the same vein, good communication skills are essential for today’s learners so they can collaborate effectively and work across ethnic, tribal, cultural, national and racial divides.

In quoting Barack Obama, I call on our teachers “ to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.”