By Dr. Geetika Saluja
Image Attribute: Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons
In the 21st century, mastery of the basic skills of reading, writing, and math is no longer enough. We are confronted by the exponential increase of readily available information and new technologies that are constantly changing in more complex societal challenges. Thus work, learning, and citizenship in the 21st century demands that we all know how to think – to reason, analyze, weigh evidence, problem-solve and to communicate effectively. They are no longer the skills that only the elite in a society must master; they are essential survival skills for all of us.
Worldwide we are observing that while students are learning how to read at least at a basic level, they are not learning how to think or care about what they read; nor are they learning to clearly communicate ideas orally and in writing. They memorize names and dates in history, but they cannot explain the larger significance of historical events. They may be learning how to add, subtract, and multiply, but they have no understanding of how to think about numbers. Not knowing how to interpret statistics many students cannot make sense of the graphs and charts they see every day in the newspaper. They are required to memorize (which are usually quickly forgotten) a wide range of scientific facts, but very few know how to apply the scientific method - how to formulate a hypothesis, test it, and analyze the results. Longer our children are in school, less curious they become.
In the world of changing technology and lifestyle, there is a need to design curriculum with all three Ps: P(people)–P(Planet)-P(Profit). As per my observation teachers haven’t been trained to design integrated curriculum around students gaining tools and strategies to tackle pressing sustainability issues in their own spaces.
In today’s scenario, the method of imparting education needs a review with a focus on cooperative and active participation, wherein students are directed explicitly in taking initiatives leading to understanding their role and contribution in transforming their own cities, to smart and sustainable ones.
Students should understand various local, global perspectives and solutions which exist around the world and take informed decisions. As one moves up the ladder in life, the dependence on active citizenship & sustainable outlook empowered with life skills will always increases to ensure that they play a full and active part in society – politically, socially, economically and environmentally. It is vital to remember that designing Curriculum with Education of Active Citizenship for Sustainable Development should not be an add-on to Syllabus but is central to it and should be integrated within the conceptual framework of taking students along the ladder of LOTS to HOTS.
It should go from learner’s level tasks- initiating thought process to Master’s level task giving space for incubation, discussion to finally Development level task of taking viable actions. This will then be translated into acquired life skills through debate, panel discussion, survey, opinion, role play, interview, reflection, interaction with a range of experts, field visits with enriched perspective and provide learners with valuable opportunities for community engagement, professional development and wider scholastic and co-scholastic achievement. This will open avenues for the school students to understand various professions among a wide array of options available in the diversified global world.
About the Author:
Dr. Geetika Saluja is a distinguished academic consultant with Ph.D. in Education, and Cooperative Learning from Calorx Teachers' University and currently working as Head, Centre For Excellence at Varmora Granito Pvt Ltd.