(Image credit: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st+Century+Teacher)
Gone are the days when a ‘teacher’ used to be the only one who is brimming with ‘knowledge’ and when ‘students’ came to school to ‘fill up’ their cerebral containers! Welcome to 21st century, a century like never before!
This is the age where any knowledge or information is available at our finger tip. This is the age where we are advancing at a rate so fast that relevant skills just 10 years ago like ‘short hand’ or ‘hand letter writing’ is slowly transforming into ‘SMS language’ and ‘typewriting’. We may crib and cry as much as we want about how technology is spoiling our children, all for very valid reasons; but there is no denying that technology has got us so close to each other and today it is very easy to consider ourselves as part of global human existential web.This will be the century when we will be colonizing mars and moon, where artificial boundaries of nations and states will hopefully fade away.
So how do the educators see themselves and their learners in this deeply humbling and humongous web of life and knowledge ?
Do they still carry a stick and beat children if the ‘don’t know’ something ?
What fraction of knowledge does the teacher have in comparison to the ‘collective common treasure of knowledge’ ?
So the first trait of 21st century educator is humility.
Advancement in science has helped us understand ourselves in a very holistic manner and also showed how we as a species have destroyed the earth’s environment. Not heeding to the red alerts will inevitably annihilate our flashy existence from the face of the planet. What do the educators of 21st century have to say about it ? Will mere lecturing and conducting written exams do any good ? When we see pollution level rise incorrigibly, witness frequent ‘natural disasters’ where ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ are not separable any more, it is even more important for the young generation to come forward to actually do something about it for their own sake, irrespective of whatever ‘marks’ they score in exams. Hoping that we will not get destroyed by nature’s sweet revenge (or by nuclear war between nations with presidents behaving like teenage boys who just attained puberty showing off who got bigger, i mean size of missile :-D), still how are we going to get along when there are 10 billion of us ?
11 billion ?
12 billion ?
Will competitive rat race kind of systems be able to cater to needs of so many ? In this age of abundance why do we still have such widening gaps, poverty, inequality, cruelty ? How long are we ok with passively holding on to view that humans are inherently and irrevocably selfish? Can we learn to be both ‘selfish’ and altruistic at the same time ?
What is the educator propagating in the classroom ?
Class divide, apathy and ‘shrewdness to win the race’ or unity, empathy and ‘smartness to disentangle the maze’ ?
With that being said, there are some essential classical values like ‘compassion’, ‘adaptability’, ‘patience’ and ‘perseverance’ which can and never will be outdated. In fact, don’t you think it is now even more important for educators to focus on character building rather just career building ? By the way, who knows what kind of ‘careers’ will the next decade bring and what all industries will be covered in the sands of time ?
Is the educator compassionate enough to have a classroom where children for various race, gender (including LGBT), background can find a safe space ?
Is the educator adaptable and updated enough to train a bunch of young astronauts who will explore the surface of moon and mars ?
Is the educator patient and humble enough to consider being a life long learner ?
Like it or not, change is inevitable. 21st century will bring changes at a pace never seen before. So be prepared, fasten your seat belts for a life full of wonder!