Thursday, May 23, 2019 | ePaper

Teach children 21st century skills early in life

Most 21st century skills are not and cannot be taught theoretically but contextually. Therefore, it is important that the context is one which is relevant to children, and something that the child can engage with actively.

  • Print


Duncan Wilson :
e often hear the term ‘21st century skills’ in the context of jobs or recruitment. But what exactly are these skills? These are competencies that often help determine a person’s success professionally. Broadly, these include critical thinking skills such as problem solving, life skills such as self-direction and collaboration, besides digital literacy and communication skills, which are extremely important in the modern world of employment.
Teach a child to type without looking at the keyboard when she is 12, and the journalist she grows into spends less time wondering where ‘Q’ is on her keyboard, and more time focused on her actual story. The common factor to all these skills is communication. While these skills are often talked about in the professional and higher academic contexts, the foundation for these skills is laid in childhood.
By the time children are in preschool and nursery, they begin developing skills such as collaboration and communication while interacting with friends and teachers. Thus, a child who is able to successfully interact with friends and during group activities in preschool, will grow into an adult who can work well in a team and lead a team, because this child has absorbed the basics of teamwork - listening to others, negotiation, mediation and developing a consensus.
These 21st century skills are not explicitly part of the school curriculum, though they are taught indirectly in schools. For example, no school gives exams on adaptability and problem solving. Perhaps the only skill that is measured is English communication. Regardless of the field of study, most Indian competitive entrance exams have an English test as at least a qualifying subject. Students who wish to study abroad will need to write Statements of Purpose and need to prove their fluency in the language through entry exams such as IELTS, and other English language proficiency tests required to go abroad.
Most 21st century skills are not and cannot be taught theoretically but contextually. Therefore, it is important that the context is one which is relevant to children, and something that the child can engage with actively. The most effective learning and highest recall occur when there is both emotional connect and the subject is engaging. Teaching should work in such a fashion that activities and assignments should connect with information that students already have which helps build neural connections and strengthens memory storage. Another challenge is to prove relevance to the child. Children learn better if they can participate in a group activity, rather than being passive recipients of knowledge.
Given their attention spans and interest, 21st century skills need to be taught to young children in a ‘playful’ setting, with other children, involving games and activities. Every parent knows from experience that the best way to get a child to learn or to finish a task (like eating dinner) is to turn it into a game. Successful teachers, programmes and initiatives for children are able to incorporate this principle.
This is why educational programmes for children usually include games, cartoons, toys and group activities.
While there is a need to engage kids early in life, the method should be fun, engaging and keep the focus on the holistic development of the child that can build upon the knowledge and skills taught during formal schooling, to inspire kids to achieve excellence. All while having fun!
The 21st century is not in the distant future; it is today.

(The writer is Director Schools, English and Skills,
British Council)

More News For this Category

Some vacation ideas that even your kids will love

Some vacation ideas that even your kids will love

Weekend Plus Desk :Children are a tough crowd to please, especially when it comes to keeping tweens and teens entertained on vacation. Tour operators, hotels and cruises have responded

Monsoon munchies: Satiate snacks craving with these easy recipes

Monsoon munchies: Satiate snacks craving with these easy recipes

Weekend Plus Desk :onsoon is almost here and while sitting by the window and watching the rainfall, as the world goes by, sounds like a lovely idea, getting something

Teen girls more  vulnerable to bullying than boys

Teen girls more vulnerable to bullying than boys

Weekend Plus Desk :eenage girls are bullied more often than boys, and are more likely to consider or attempt suicide, a study has found. Researchers from Rutgers University in

POEM

The Holy Ramzan-Anis FatemaThe whole world is enlightened as the Heavenly 'Noor' is on earth,The noblest desires are blended with joyous Muslims' heart.Let us uphold the flag of whiteness as

POEM

Short StoryJourney for turtleArisha Naveennce upon a time, there was a girl named Lily.  At that time there were no iPhones, nothing to learn if animals were friendly or not,

Great Poet Omar Khayyam

Literature Desk :mar Khayyam, Arabic in full Ghiyath al-Din Abu al-Fat Umar ibn Ibrahim al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami was born on May 18, 1048, in Neyshabur (also spelled Nishapur), Khorasan in

Novelist Shawkat Osman

Novelist Shawkat Osman

Syed Azizul Huq :hawkat Osman (1917-1998), educationist, novelist, short story writer, was born on 2 January 1917 in the district of Hughli, Paschimbongo, India. His real name was Sheikh

POEM

POEM

A poem for 1st May-Sukanta BhattacharyaRed fire flames had spread from one skyline to another,What more can it be while living a dog’s life? How long will you be pleasedAt all

Poet Sukanta Bhattacharya

Anik Mahmud :oet Sukanta Bhattacharya (1926-1947), Marxist poet, was born on 15 August 1926 at his maternal uncle’s home in Kolkata. His paternal home was in Kotalipara in Faridpur.

Hard water can harm  baby’s  sensitive skin

Hard water can harm baby’s sensitive skin

Weekend Plus Desk :n the past few years, environmental factors have become very crucial when it comes to their impact on health, including air pollution or the kind of