Skip to main content

The 21st Century teaching and learning myths

If you happen to follow the latest Education news you will have no doubt heard of the terms '21st Century Learner', '21st Century Classroom' and '21st Century Teacher'. And if you delve a little deeper to discover just what these terms mean then you may or may not come to the same conclusion as I have, they are myths.

Throughout history, we humans have used education as a means to better ourselves, to inform ourselves about the world around us, to gain knowledge and understanding, to make sense of it all, and we have used the tools and ideas around at those times to help us achieve those aims. From a rock to a piece of flint, an animal skin to the Book of Kells, fire to the atomic bomb, tools have driven our desire to learn more and more. Without the tools I wouldn't be writing this on my iPad, nor would I be able to use the Internet to publish it. You wouldn't be able to read it as it would probably be still in my head nor would you care as you wouldn't have known about any of it in the first instance. So tools are an essential aspect of any education but that doesn't make the tools of today any better than the tools that went before them.

The general theme that runs around 21st Century this and that is that those of us not open to its virtues have already failed its 21st Century Learners. Teachers not embracing the use of the latest technological tools are described as technophobes or rejectionists. Even those that do try, cautiously, to include these new technologies in their everyday teaching are seen as slow adopters. Then there are the learners themselves who have been described as *'digital natives' who are stuck in 19th Century classrooms surrounded by the inept technophobes and their ageing technology.

'How can they possibly learn!'

Well, they do. We are resilient beings and just like our ancestors we want to make sense of the world around us, to discover, to push ourselves, to use this knowledge to make connections and ask more questions. The tools we have today connect us to more knowledge and resources than ever before but having access to these tools doesn't make us 21st Century Learners or Teachers. 

Learners will continue to learn whether they have their fingers on a digitally connected universe of information or not. What we should really be discussing is the provision of a curriculum fit for a new century. Only after that has been established may we even begin to start realising the possibility of 21st Century learning and teaching.

*Don't get me started on 'digital natives', what a pile of nonsense that one is.


  1. "We are resilient beings and just like our ancestors we want to make sense of the world around us, to discover, to push ourselves, to use this knowledge to make connections and ask more questions"

    So the government can reduce funding but it's not a problem because we are resilient. If "Learners will continue to learn whether they have their fingers on a digitally connected universe of information or not" will they continue to learn without a learning infrastructure, which will include teachers, buildings and online and physical resources.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to use proxy setting with Linux Mint

The dreaded proxy server has reared its head again. If you read my post about Linux OS for old tech you would have found me advocating Ubuntu, Elementary and Linux Mint. Unfortunately, I have found Linux Mint to be problematic if your school server uses proxy settings to get online. Ubuntu and Elementary also require changes to the network settings if you use a proxy, but this only involves a simple change in the Network Settings panel. This doesn't work in Linux Mint, the settings can be entered but will not remain saved.

So, here's the 'how to' courtesy of the askUbuntu Q&A section - if you're not keen on using terminal commands I suggest you either don't bother using Linux Mint and stick to Ubuntu or Elementary (or any other Linux distro) or swallow your fears and give this a go.

Use terminal to open /etc/environment using a text edit app as superuser - e.g. interminal type sudo gedit /etc/environment     (enter password when asked)Add the following line…

The depressed teacher

For many years I have been recognised, in the main, as an 'outstanding teacher' by my peers, the LA and Ofsted. I learned from my errors, I listened to advice from those more experienced and I strove to improve my pedagogy through CPD and reading literature. In September 2012 I was recognised as an 'outstanding' teacher, one of only two in the school, by Ofsted yet only one month later I was deemed 'requires improvement' by the newly appointed headteacher. Why? What happened to my teaching? Where did I go wrong? How could I have let this happen? I questioned it yet found the reply insane- I didn't meet the new observation checklist. A descent into ill health and depression followed with two emergency visits to A&E with suspected heart attacks.

It's been a long time coming but I feel ready to tell this side of my teaching career so that others may recognise the signs and do something about it. My first visit to A&E happened during 2014. The atmo…

My latest lesson observation feedback

This was the outcome of my latest lesson observation - I received Good with Outstanding features (whatever that actually means). The form is based on the 2013 Ofsted criteria for a whole school observation, such criteria is not meant to be used to grade individual lessons so why are schools doing exactly that?
To achieve an Outstanding grade on this form I would have needed to do the following in the length of time the lesson observation took place.  Almost all pupils make rapid and sustained progress across the curriculumMarking and feedback from the teacher and pupils is frequent and of consistently high qualityTeaching of reading, writing, communication and maths is exceptionalUse of well judged and often imaginative teaching strategies that match individual needsTime taken to develop skills in other subjectsAppropriate and regular homeworkNow to pick some of these apart. No teacher can possibly be expected to ensure all pupils make sustained and rapid progress across THECURRICULUM