This year we are focusing on 21st Century Learning. For many myself included while this is exciting it can also be scary. What does it mean is it something new? Do I need to change the way I have taught for x years. To be honest some of the answers are Yes, but 21st Century learning is not new. The terms may be somewhat new the focus maybe new the ideas aren’t. As Rabbi Perl our Head of School showed during in-service there are many examples of critical thinking and questioning found in the Talmud, which are key skills that we talk about when we talk about 21st Century learning. I also read today the following in Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s book, “To Heal a Fractured World”. Rabbi Sacks shares the following story about Janusz Korczak who was Polish physician in the early 1900’s. :
“Early in his career, he was drawn to the plight of underprivileged children. He had revolutionary ideas about the young. He believed in trusting them and giving them responsibilities. He got them to produce their own newspaper, the first children’s newspaper in Poland. He turned schools into self governing communities…..He used to say Children have the right to be taken seriously…”
Some very 21st Century ideas.
Yes today because of technology and our global economy and this new world we live in there is more of a focus on what we call 21st Century learning and it needs to be the norm rather than the exception but it is not something new.
It also not a term or tools we use but rather a mindset of learning that is predicated on what Carol Dweck calls a “Growth Mindset”. A mindset that pushed our children to question and take risks and where when we take those risks we tell our students it is OK to try ands fail as long as that failure leads to success. It is also about the skills of critical thinking, questioning, investigating, collaborating, and being creative.
Therefore perhaps as we look forward we to take a moment a look back and understand that while the terms and methods may be new but the mindset and skills have been around do a long time.