Thursday, March 21, 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

Bhutan in off-season

Bhutan in off-season

Akhil Sharma :here is only one traffic light in Bhutan. It is at the top of the main road in Thimphu, the country's capital. A policeman in a tight

From Aloo Parantha to Japanese Sticky Rice: Easy gluten-free recipes

From Aloo Parantha to Japanese Sticky Rice: Easy gluten-free recipes

Ingredients :Gluten-free chapati flour - 1 cup+1/3 cupWater to help you knead the doughSalt to tasteOnion - 1/2 super finely chopped.Green chillies - 2-3 finely (chopped)Green coriander - 10

Let others also live

Let others also live

Weekend Plus Desk :Onnojibon, a book based on articles, written by prominent Journalist Jamaluddin Jamal, was published recently by Nayaprobaho Prokashoni. In this book the author reflected the plights

Blood holds key to liver regeneration

Blood holds key to liver regeneration

Weekend Plus Desk :he liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate. A recent study shows that the blood-clotting protein fibrinogen may hold the key as

Great leader

Great leader

    -Mohammad Mamun Mia Breaking the shackles of subjection We earned our emancipation The Bengali nation has not bowed down to the usurper Has no question to surrender Due

Sufi Literature Wakil Ahmed

ufi Literature, a distinctive stream of medieval Bangla literature, was inspired by Sufism. Sufi saints started coming to Bangladesh from Arabia and Iran in the mid-eleventh century. After Bakhtiyar

 Jules Verne: Life and writings

Jules Verne: Life and writings

Literature Desk :ules Verne (1828-1905) is frequently called the ‘father of science fiction.’ Among all writers, only Agatha Christie’s works have been translated more. Verne wrote numerous plays, essays,

Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase risk of kidney disease

Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase risk of kidney disease

Weekend Plus Desk :he perils of passive smoking need no retelling. However, according to a report quoted in The New York Times, being exposed to secondhand smoke can also

Ways to rebuild a relationship

Ways to rebuild a relationship

Weekend Plus Desk :ay be, we all know how a relationship crumbles when one partner breaks the trust of the other because trust is that solid rock upon which

Can you tell if your  child is lying?

Can you tell if your child is lying?

Weekend Plus Desk :hildren start lying as early as two years old and they’re really good at it, developmental researcher Kang Lee tells us in this Ted Talk. Having