Celebrating 21st Century Education
Understanding our complex world from an interdisciplinary approach: Celebrating 21st Century learning at the Year 7 Expo
Education is in a state of change more than at any other time in history. For our young people to thrive in the ever changing technological world of the 21st century, they can no longer simply be vessels into which we pour knowledge. Traditionally schools were once about providing information for students to absorb. Whilst it is good to know things, it is no longer hard to find information; we can find out anything at a press of a button. Technology has also begun to replace parts of the workforce prompting a change in the skill sets that we need to offer our young people for success in this changing world.
Likewise, understanding and engaging with the global problems and issues we face today requires that we develop a multifaceted and complex understanding of them. Such understanding invariably draws from multiple disciplines and fields. Furthermore, preparing our students to grapple with global problems and issues demands that we nurture their capacity to solve problems, create products or ask questions in ways that go beyond single disciplinary lenses.
In understanding this, we explored Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) research conducted in schools around the globe over the past 5 years which identified the skills that will be needed for young people in the 21st Century and have been working with our staff in curriculum development to offer engaging and challenging programs for these 6 core skills:
Collaboration - Knowledge - Construction - Self-Regulation - Real World Problem Solving and Innovation - ICT for Learning - Skilful Communication.
Our Year 5 Vision Learning program was launched with great success in 2014, with the BLP learning dispositions now also firmly integrated into the Year 6 learning environment. This term in 7 we have continued to build on the BLP foundation, to challenge student thinking and meet each of the six core 21st Century learning skills to keep leading the ‘learning that matters’. In doing so, students worked collaboratively in teams across classes to solve a water based challenge and code a digital game as one of the many processes to showcase their learning across a range of subject areas.
As a large group of staff, we also had to think outside the square, to plan and teach differently, to model collaboration, problem solving and skilful communication in designing a unit that incorporated the learning from Science, Technology, Geography, English, Maths, Art and Music. We had to step back and give greater control to the students to allow them to discover, to self-regulate, to problem solve and reflect on their own learning journey. Staff became ‘mentors’ to gently encourage and support when needed and provided sign up workshops for specialised learning. The learning journey was not easy, often the opportunity for growth lay in the moments of greatest challenge and frustration, when we needed to ask ‘why do you feel this way?’ and ‘What can you do to solve the problem… What does your team need you to change?’ When the students reflected and analysed where these skills would be useful in the future they returned to the task with greater determination and resilience and in pushing beyond early frustrations built new neural pathways.
So on Tuesday 6th September, Year 7 students and families gathered to celebrate the learning in the SAC and view a small snapshot of the learning journey. Past pupil and media student Jack Oates captured the 8 week learning in a short film that showed both the learning in action and first-hand accounts from students on their thoughts and wonderings. Students who attended enthusiastically shared their experiences with families and were fortunate to meet and hear from Liam Hensel, the head of the ACER Australian Video Game Challenge where they submitted their game. Liam spoke about the challenge aims to increase student uptake of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines and praised our students for the comprehensive planning that had gone into solving their water issues. He was thrilled to meet the teams and listen to their experiences and see the broad range of subject knowledge they had gathered together in their games. Having this national audience and authentic purpose was an intrinsic motivator for teams to step outside their comfort zone and gave a heightened degree of excitement to the finale.
ACER (Australian Council for Education Research) now wish to present our Christian College approach to their challenge as a case study in the Australian Teacher Magazine later in 2017, to model for other schools around Australia on how technology can help embed subject learning together in an engaging and innovative way to solve a real world problem.
Many thanks to those students, families and staff who took time out in their busy schedules to come along and share the educational journey and to those who gave feedback to help us continually improve our programs.
Ms Ingrid Staggard
Head of LITEhouse - Pedagogy