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What is 21st Century Learning?

What is 21st Century Learning?

I was speaking to a respected colleague the other day and she said something that really got me thinking!  “Teachers today have lost their way,” she claimed with absolute conviction.

Her comment has been going round and round in my mind for days now, puzzling me and prompting me to genuinely reflect on teaching and learning in the 21st Century.

We have been talking about 21st Century Skills, 21st Century Learning and 21st Century Schools for 20 years and now almost two decades into the 21st Century many schools around the world are still set up to cater for 19th and 20th Century Learners.


We all know that the world is changing rapidly. Students today, Generation Z and Generation Alpha, are a whole new breed of thinkers and learners and their futures will be so different to ours. Sadly, research is showing that many schools from Australian schools right into international education institutions, are failing to engage, motivate and challenge their students.

We, as international school leadership teams and local principals, must ask ourselves, what is 21st Century Learning and how can we successfully meet the needs of 21st Century Learners?

Governments, education systems and universities around the world have rightfully invested countless hours and millions of dollars creating high quality curricula, guides and advice for schools and teachers. A quick Google search will actually overwhelm you with information on 21st Century Learning and 21st Century Skills. In fact, I believe the plethora of high quality information has overwhelmed and confused many teachers.

School Leaders need to take action. It’s time to think strategically and simplify! Establish a clear understanding of 21st Century Learning for your school and help teachers feel confident that they are on the right track.

Professor Tony Wagner, from Harvard University, outlines seven survival skills for the 21st Century in his book, The Achievement Gap. The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, P21, has created a clear framework for 21st Century Learning  and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, ACARA, have developed a national curriculum to meet the needs of 21st Century Learners using seven general capabilities and three cross curriculum priorities.

Use the examples above to collaborate with teachers and define what 21st Century Learning means for your school. Adopt a shared belief and create your school’s philosophy of 21st Century Learning. Develop strategies and a road map to achieve that philosophy and allow teachers to get on with the business of engaging, motivating, challenging and empowering 21st Century Learners for tomorrow, not yesterday.

If you would like assistance with 21st Century Strategic Thinking or Strategic Planning contact Maxine at Think Strategic for Schools.

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