THE TEACHER THE 21ST CENTURY CHILD NEEDS IN ORDER TO COPE AND BE SUCCESSFUL IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD
Quarantine Enforcer. Climate Change Reversal Specialist.Memory Augmentation Surgeon.New Science Ethicist.Space Pilot, Tourist Guide and Architect.Social Networking Worker.Vertical Farmer.Virtual Lawyer. Drone Regulator. Organ Designer. Privacy Manager. Old-age Consultant. Body-part Maker. Nano Medic. Robot Handler. Waste Data handler. 3D Repairman.Alternative Vehicle Designer.Time Bank Trader.Virtual Clutter Organiser.Weather Modification Police.Fun Fact:These are the jobs of the not-too-distant future. These are the jobs of 2030. People, are you ready? Parents, are your children ready? Teachers, are your students ready? Take a moment to think about this.
You might be thinking there’s no way your child or student could possibly think about such a job, let alone have any idea where or how to begin preparing for it. You would be wrong. Horribly wrong. This is because your child (or student) is a 21st Century Child; a child who has been exposed to the internet filled with copious amounts of information (relevant and irrelevant), to new technologies that we sometimes struggle to employ, and to superheroes, magic and other “impossible” ideas. The world has evolved, drastically, from when we were younger and it will continue to evolve whether we are ready or not. So those jobs listed above are not in any way, unlikely. It is of utmost necessity, therefore, that the 21st Century Child is rightly guided and influenced in order to get the very best out of their present and future endeavours. Who better to guide and influence, than the teacher?… And who is a teacher?
In my opinion, asides the Parent, a teacher is a person in whose hands God has placed the future of his/her community, state, country, and ultimately, the World. A teacher is an agent of discovery, one who guides the students to learn new concepts by themselves. A great teacher once said that “Teaching is a Calling”; I can’t help but agree. Our children, our students are our future, the future of our nation, the future of the world. Any teacher who does not realise or understand this is in the wrong profession. It is therefore the duty of the teacher (working closely with the parent(s)) to ensure that each student has the right set of skills and values that will help them survive successfully.
We should note however that as AbubakarShekau had teachers, so did Professor Wole Soyinka. Now, one hides behind horrific videos and unnecessary violence while the other is the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Yes, we need teachers who are skilled, teachers who have mastery of their subjects but also need teachers who have positive values and behaviours; teachers who are called to make a difference. The world is evolving and Advancements in Technology and 21st Century Skills are not the only new thing. Morals and Ethics are dying! Principles are fast becoming a thing of the past. We are heading towards a very dangerous future if we don’t bring them back with lightning speed. It’s clear now that teachers have an extremely vital role to play.
As a result, each child needs a teacher that possesses the following skills in order to cope and be successful in this rapidly changing world:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Each child needs a teacher that will take issues and situations and problems and go into their root components; understand how the problem evolved, look at it from a universal perspective and effectively propose appropriate solutions. Not a teacher who accepts things at face value.
- Collaboration and Leadership
Currently, schoolsneed to prepare students for teamwork, how to approach leadership in a team, how to influence instead of having direct authority, how to complete a task as a team with minimal guidelines/instruction, how to work with people who have different cultures, values, and attitudes. Every child, therefore, needs a teacher that will help strengthen the concept of trust in others (through group-work), and show them how to limit disconnection of communication and create successful collaborations.
- Agility and Adaptability
With the constant change in schools’ curricula, the schools are trying to teach students that there is a specific right answer to every question, but due to adaptability the right answer is sure to change. Also, jobs now require people to think at a fast pace and be able to change role or position at any moment. Students need a teacher who will expect them to answer questions quickly and “in detail” at the same time.
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
Once students have an understanding of content, and can utilize that content on their own, teachers need to give students the freedom to take responsibility for their own learning opportunities. This will provide students with the drive to achieve things that they have come up with.
Giving students some responsibility for their own education at such a young age, will be greatly beneficial for them in developing entrepreneurialism and taking initiative. Having the ability to produce something functional with little instruction is a skill that is highly sought after in the job market today. People who are willing to take on projects that they build from the ground up are developed from students who go the extra mile with their education. They therefore need a teacher who is willing and able to guide this skill appropriately.
- Effective Oral and Written Communication
Students must learn to be concise in their writing, but convey their point in an interesting way that engages an audience, whether it is in written form or oral communication. According to Tony Wagner, the oral and written communication of students who will become job candidates should be focused and evoke energy and passion. For students’ communication to have these qualities, teachers’ communication should lead by example with these qualities. They need a teacher who will be passionate and energetic about written and spoken content and students will imitate that by becoming passionate about learning.
- Assessing and Analysing Information
Information is constantly changing. Students need teachers to instruct them on evaluating information in different ways and from different perspectives. It will help them find different ways to problem solve, and help them understand what content is important to their educational experience and what is not.
- Curiosity and Imagination
Curiosity and imagination compliment the skills of initiative, entrepreneurialism, problem solving, and critical thinking. Curiosity and imagination work well with the more logical skills because it stimulates both the left and right brain. Students need a teacher that will encourage them to be creative; to broaden their scope of understanding, and always dream big.
The 21st Century Child also needs a teacher that will instil in him/her, the following behaviours:
- Understanding and practicing honesty, integrity, and the “golden rule”.
- Respect for the value of effort, understanding the work ethic and need for individual contributions, and self-discipline.
- Understanding respect for those who are different – an appreciation of diversity.
- Capability to work with others as a team member.
- Being reflective and taking increased responsibility for one’s actions.
- Respect for others and for authority.
- Commitment to family life, personal life, and community.
- Pride in Nigerian Citizenship and knowledge of individual responsibilities in a democracy.
- Recognition and respect for educators.
- Being excited about life and setting goals for lifelong learning.
Most importantly, the teacher must believe unequivocally in the one true God and be led by the Holy Spirit. He/she must be a teacher that cares, deeply; desperately; about the children put under his/her charge. Ellen G. White said:
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men – men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall”.
Please read this quote again, but replace the word “men” with “teachers”. As teachers, as parents, as citizens, we all have roles to play in the development or otherwise of our children, our students, our future. Let’s get to work!