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What is 21st Century learning and teaching?

To enable pupils to flourish in the 21st century, there is a great consensus among many educational researchers all around the world: the youth will need a different set of skills. These skills are well-defined by many projects and educationalists, and, without oversimplifying it, they boil down to the ability to use knowledge to solve problems, to work collectively, to think creatively and to reflect on their own thinking.

In other words, the concept 21st century learning and teaching refers to a whole new approach to learning and teaching that prepares young minds for life in the 21st century.

Despite some wonderful technology in classrooms, children will not learn by themselves. Deep, meaningful learning still remains hard work. Teachers in South Africa and all over the world need to be smarter than ever before. They need to understand how learning takes place and how we can improve students’ ability, and desire, to keep on learning.

21st Century learning means:

  • keeping subject content under constant review to ensure it is current;
  • encouraging learning dispositions and techniques – such as motivation and attention, problem-solving and critical thinking – that help learners to excel in all subjects;
  • using up-to-date technology where it is shown to enhance both the process and outcomes of learning;
  • treating learners as individuals and respecting their diverse abilities, passions and learning styles;
  • making our classrooms places of lively discussion and debate;
  • fostering social and interpersonal skills through collaborative learning activities;
  • valuing the role of creativity and the arts in learning;
  • creating an environment that both stimulates and rewards curiosity, imagination, initiative and effort, and
  • improving assessment so that skills and attitudes are recognised.

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