I am a product of the Nigerian education system. Unlike many, I am proud of all my teachers and appreciate every effort they made into making me who I have become today. I have a love for learning. Perhaps the most significant gift that schooling has given me is the desire for lifelong learning – this is one of the reasons I chose to teach rather than pursue a lucrative career in engineering.
While my story seems to have ended well, not many products of the Nigerian education system can say same; many are presently suffering under the torture of indifferent, unpassionate teachers. Today, there are many teachers in classrooms who loathe their fate or see being in the classroom as God’s way of punishing them for past sins. My advice to such teachers – leave! In fact, if you’re reading this article, stop it – draft your resignation letter instead. What qualifies you to become a good teacher is not just ‘knowing better what you did not know very well when you were younger’, but knowing that your presence in class commands more than each child’s attention – their future, their minds, their spirits and, in some instances, their bodies have been committed to you for a fraction of time and you want to ensure that you make the most of that time to mould something significant with them, that they would live to remember and be proud of always.
If you do not have that kind of mindset about teaching, then you have no business being in the classroom.
I write this article for educators who seek to change the lives of many. I write for those who have determined that there is no turning back – they have burnt their bridges and are focused on succeeding. I write for those whose plan to create meaningful learning experiences for students plays in their heads longer than their plans to #Japa. If this last paragraph describes you or you wish it would, then read on.
I have read several bodies of work to improve my teaching. These many books, journals and resources have changed my paradigm and contributed to my growth as a teacher and even as a parent. Of all these works, there is one I would highly recommend that every school leader and teacher who wants to produce learners from Nigeria who will become global problem-solvers engages with: the 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD) by ITL & Microsoft. I choose the word ‘engage’ intentionally. It is not enough to simply learn about this subject or gain the certificate. It is more important to practice the principles in your classrooms, measure progress, critique your processes and revise actions until you attain a predetermined result. One of the setbacks we experience in Nigeria is that we prioritise acquisition of certificates over attainment of skill. Please do not do this with the 21CLD.
The 21CLD is a model of learning that better prepares learners for life and work in the 21st century. Its essence is to help teachers and school leaders identify and understand the opportunities at our disposal to make learning activities that build 21st century skills in students. It helps educators take a ‘begin with the end in mind’ approach to pedagogy and classroom practices. I mean, all our actions and efforts with the children would be a waste of their time, ours and parents’ resources if we are not clear about the exact outcome we want to produce in each learner.
The 21CLD explores six skills which are vital to the development of well-rounded 21st century learners:
- Knowledge construction
- Real-world problem solving and innovation
- Skilled communication
- Information and communication technology (ICT) for learning
In this article, I will give a synopsis on each. To have an in-depth knowledge and gain practical insights into how you would develop each skill in your learners, then I would recommend you fill this form to indicate interest in participating in my 21CLD Masterclass.
Knowledge construction is a skill that requires students to go beyond knowing things to thinking with what they know. The emphasis not on regurgitation of information but applying the knowledge gained in new contexts thus displaying evidence of deep understanding. The height of knowledge construction happens when students are able to connect learning experiences from multiple disciplines thus seeing the relevance to life of every subject they are studying in school.
In today’s workplace, collaboration is the norm. Successful workers are those who have learnt to work with people from different disciplines and cultures. It is therefore important that in every Nigerian classroom, more emphasis is given to teamwork than individual attainments. Collaboration starts with working together but does not end there. Teachers who design collaboration activities know that collaboration reaches its depth when learners work interdependently. Click here to learn more.
Education that does not equip the learner to solve problems for a real person is no education at all. Schools are not institutions created for baby-sitting children so that parents can concentrate at work. A vital skill that 21st century learners must gain from our classrooms is real-world problem solving and innovation. Lessons designed to develop this skill challenges learners to observe authentic situations outside academic contexts and proffer solutions to them in the real world.
In today’s world of social media and fake news, many are talking but only few are communicating. Skilled communication is therefore an important skill for every learner to gain in passing across evidence-based multi-modal communication, bearing a specific audience in mind. If that sounded like gibberish, then I have not yet communicated to you. Click here to really get it.
Self-regulation is key to developing lifelong learners. This skill helps learners organise and evaluate themselves and ultimately take control of their learning. Educators can design learning activities that help learners gain self-direction and initiative; skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
In the 21st century, ICT is a necessity, not a luxury. It is therefore vital for every learner to leverage ICT to construct knowledge, but more importantly to become designers of ICT products themselves.
Now that you have gleaned a few ideas on the six 21CLD skills, I am certain you are convinced that this is a valuable tool that would revolutionise the Nigerian education system if practiced in every classroom. I have chosen to be an evangelist of this learning model and am committed to work with every teacher or homeschooling parent who interested in seeing Nigerian children dominating the world with ground-breaking innovative ideas and solutions. Click here to learn more.
Finally, some of you might have come here from my social media platform to catch the remaining 5 of the 10 benefits the 21CLD. Here goes:
- Making teachers designers of unforgettable lessons.
- Students are not passive receptors of information but co-constructors of learning experiences
- Students no longer simply know what they are taught but are able to think with what they know.
- ICT is not merely a subject nor a distraction, but a tool used by learners to construct their knowledge on a subject & solve problems.
- Learners are able to communicate beyond ‘sup’ & LOL. But can employ multiple media to creative pass a message across to a specific audience.
- Teachers learn that collaboration begins but doesn’t end with working in pairs or groups.
- Students working in groups realise that their individual contribution determines the success or failure of the team, so they decide to become personally and mutually accountable.
- In crafting their communication, learners seek to understand their audience – this way, they begin with the end in mind.
- Learners take personal ownership of their learning. They know that if anything goes wrong, it is no one’s fault but theirs.
- Learners observe their environment & what could be better. They create solutions to problems & either implement this solution themselves or communicate their ideas to someone who can implement them.
Thank you for reading. Click here to indicate interest in the Masterclass.