Are we preparing ourselves to Innovate in the 21st Century?

It is worth questioning if the education system of the past century is preparing students to succeed in the 21st Century, and if the challenges of this century can be addressed by the product of the current education system. Public education systems of the 20th Century are inadequate for success in the 21st Century. The education systems of developed countries have focused on imparting skills and knowledge required for the industrial era of the 1900’s, whereas that in countries such as India have specialized in producing great administrators. In either case the education system responded to the most pressing needs back then, be it following instructions and repetitive processes for individual and organizational productivity or performing tasks in a disciplined manner, respecting hierarchies and order taking. My favorite talk on this subject is by Sir. Ken Robinson. Do watch the talk.

There are fundamental changes in the economy, jobs and businesses in the 21st Century, which are characterized by information, knowledge, and innovation. Growth and development in the 21st Century requires the ability to respond to complex problems flexibly, communicate effectively across cultures as well as geographic distances, manage information, and work in teams to produce new knowledge. As a result the education system should develop skills such as – global collaboration, information and communication technology literacy, problem-solving and team work among others.

Educational reform is an onerous and long drawn process. Individuals and organizations in the mean time are stepping in to provide bridge programs. My personal interests are in the area of leveraging digital media and robotics to promote the development of innovation, collaboration, technology fluency, problem-solving and team work among teens and youth. In coming weeks and months I will share my ideas of hands-on and digital media based activities where making and designing in self-guided teams is at the core. In the mean time I invite your responses to the design aspects of bridge programs for maximum effectiveness.

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One thought on “Are we preparing ourselves to Innovate in the 21st Century?

  1. The top 2 challenges of 21st century will be equity and (environmental) sustainability. The question is how will such bridge programs, digital tools (or any educational method) help us to prepare the next generation in terms of addressing these challenges. If such technology-oriented programs are not accessible to students from all strata, it actually reduces equal opportunity.

    Educationists who work from first principles will also question whether digital technology is relevant at all to primary and secondary school students. The education envisioned by Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, and Gandhi has no place for fancy technology. It focuses more on the basics of preparing a good human being.

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