The need for 21st-century skills

A contemporary approach to education.

“Apply knowledge instead of repeating facts”

In 2017 we realized that our point of departure, that being digital literate increases your possibilities to participate in society, had a limitation. Although still true, the effect of digital literacy is much bigger in connection with other so-called 21st-century skills. Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, to name a few important ones.

The reason is that you cannot isolate digital literacy as a useful skill without the ability to apply the knowledge. This is true for most subjects taught in Kenyan and Tanzanian schools and the focus on facts instead of abilities is a huge burden for school leavers. Nobody taught them how to use their acquired knowledge in society, it remains purely theoretical. A realization that gradually finds its way towards policymakers and trickles back to schools in the form of an updated curriculum.

Nevertheless, most schools we talk to are struggling with this subject. 21st-century skills are a broad umbrella and choices need to be made, teachers must be trained, and lesson plans developed. DEAN offers courses and workshops to support schools and teachers in this important process.
In interactive workshops, we explore, together with the teachers, the use of 21st-century skills as a framework to change their didactic methodology. We inspire them to use it as an approach towards learning; encourage children to work in groups; have them do presentations; ask them to solve a problem in creative ways; show them how they can learn from mistakes; apply knowledge to everyday situations and objects, rather than treating it as an isolated theoretical subject.

The first results are very positive. In next posts, we will report in more detail.

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