As many researchers and educators have noticed, the 21st Century Learner needs a new, updated classroom, with enhanced teaching styles that will meet their specific needs. Sir Ken Robinson describes that schools are not in need of reformation, but a complete transformation so they can meet the quickly-evolving needs of today’s students.
Will Richardson, the author of Learning on the Blog describes that the way in which students are experiencing school is dis-empowering in his chapter, “It’s the Empowerment, Stupid.” Teachers are going through the their traditional, routine methods, and as time goes on and these practices remain the same, more and more students are being left at a disadvantage.
Richardson describes that students are being delivered a disservice in a multitude of areas, and are thus going to be left unprepared for their futures. The absence of technology and new pedagogical practices is creating a teacher-centered educational system.
Disempowerment in the Classroom Keeps Students From Becoming...
- They are not being prepared for the changing job markets that they will be competing in as adults.
- Students are not being given the opportunity to pick those who they want to work with; they are unable to choose their own learning network. Instead, the school makes this decision.
- They are unable to genuinely “assess” information. In the typical classroom setting, the student simply goes along with whatever it is his peers or teachers have to offer.
- Students are delivered handed packets, worksheets, and information, and then are told to organize it, according to the teacher’s beliefs about organization as opposed to their own. In an increasingly technological society, it is likely that many students would prefer to go paperless, and that they have more relevant organization techniques than those that are being reinforced in the educational environment.
- Students rely on information from others, in the educational system, to teach them about who they are as beings, instead of exploring this on their own.
- Students are not being provided with educations that support the “sharing and connecting” of “information and knowledge” in their increasingly digital words. If they are not self-publishers, they are not being taught literacy in a way that is empowering, which is described by social justice teacher Patrick J. Finn in his book Literacy With an Attitude.
- Students are not familiar enough with their digital worlds, and thus are unable to identify and understand the potential dangers that it holds, and how to avoid them.
Working Towards Empowerment
Teachers need to provide 21st Century Learners with the educations that they not only deserve, but need, for their futures. They need to be working with engaging, technology-rich curriculums that are student-centered. With the shifting of power from teacher to student, students are being given the opportunity to take control of their own lives, and thus can confidently take hold of their future worlds.