20th century Teacher & 21st Century student : Challenges and way forward

Students during morning assembly. [Representational Image]
Students during morning assembly. [Representational Image]File/GK


Peter Drucker (1909-2005) who was noted management consultant , author and educator based in California  US has rightly remarked “The only skill that will be relevant in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time.”

The 21st century has necessitated a global shift towards information, inquiry, creativity, critical thinking, green inventions, passion, communication skills and leadership. The 21st century requires learners to move away from being mere recipients of black and white information to becoming co-creators of knowledge. This evolving global scenario fueled by emerging technologies and changing aspirations of the modern learner has thrown new challenges and demands for the existing education system.

Keeping in view the emergence of these challenges and demands , the current lot of teachers have to search new ways and means to come up to the expectations of the modern learners .In the existing century , the focus has entirely shifted on the students , therefore teacher has to establish and create learning experiences in a stress free environment wherein students can analyze and explore complex real life problems with the assistance of varied resources at their disposal and devise their own innovative alternative solutions to mitigate these complexities through collaboration and innovation. So to live up to the expectations of their students ,teachers need to have mastery of the latest teaching pedagogies that will mediate and catalyze critical and risk taking ability in students . With such a mass scale transformations taking place in each and every sphere of life in the current century, it is inevitable on part of the teacher to upskill and fine polish his teaching approach .Therefore teachers need to get themselves properly skilled on a regular basis as they have to prepare their students for the educational competition & challenges.

New Educational Policy

The New Education policy (NEP) 2020 was enacted with the sole intention to address the aspirations of 21st century learners. The ultimate aim of NEP 2020, formulated after a gap of 34 years, is firmly rooted in the 21st century. The COVID-19 pandemic  made us realize the significance of life skills rather than blindly relying and acknowledging academic skills in pre-covid era. Life skills encompass a conglomerate of abilities and qualities such as critical thinking, communication skills, problem solving, adaptability, creative thinking and more. The acquisition of such life defining skills among modern learners is a distant reality unless the teachers are well versed and fully equipped. The question arises are our teachers equipped to impart the skills to their students, who are the modern learners? The gap between students’ needs and teachers’ skills is poles apart. How can we expect the modern learner to be prepared for 21st –century careers when they are not being taught 21st century skills?

Up-skilling of Teachers

Our teachers need to be extensively trained and upskilled thoroughly in domain specific knowledge, abilities and skills as well as in new pedagogical interventions. Not all of yesterday’s subjects are relevant to today’s students. Likewise yesterday’s teaching methods , strategies and techniques will not be as effective and catalyzing with modern learners because the way modern learners receive , assimilate and process information has changed altogether. To augment the 21st century education challenges and be at par with the countries who have excelled in the domain of education, a slew of measures have been undertaken to transform India into a knowledge economy so that it is truly reckoned in the world as Vishwa Guru –the teacher of knowledge –giver of the world. Educational institutions across globe have initiated creating 21st century learning environments in their premises on a mass scale and India should not lag behind in the race.

PM Shri Scheme

 Under the Pradhan Mantri Schools for Rising India (PM SHRI)scheme, the  union cabinet has approved  to transform more than 14000 schools throughout the country as lead schools to acquaint modern learners with 21st century skills and to achieve the objectives of NEP 2020 which are in sync with these skills. This centrally sponsored scheme has been launched with this intention to train teachers on the contours of innovative pedagogy, world class infrastructure and fine handling of technological driven educational tools in selected schools. These schools will strive towards ensuring quality education and create individuals equipped with key 21st century skills. This centrally sponsored scheme will be implemented with a total project cost of Rs 27360 crores, out of which  Rs 18128 crore being the central share for ensuing five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27 .In these specially designated schools teachers are expected to shift to more experiential , holistic and integrated , play or toy based , learner centered , discussion based flexible and enjoyable pedagogical approach.

Virtual training by TISS

Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) , Mumbai in collaboration with UNICEF  India and SCERT Jammu & Kashmir started an extensive online training program on the theme “Constructive Teaching and Learning with Technology” to a selected lot of 300 teachers in the first phase across Jammu & Kashmir during the academic year 2021-2022 . During this virtual  training program, teachers were practically taught in a lucid manner on how to integrate technology in curriculum and pedagogy .The teachers were introduced to a newer concept of  technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge-TPACK, which is a collaborative framework that integrates three core knowledge areas: technological areas, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge. The essence of TPACK is how these areas work together to upgrade modern learner’s motivation and learning outcome. TPACK is the assemblage of three knowledge areas which work in coordination to address modern learner’s 21st century learning needs .In the virtual training program , teachers were given assignments to use technological tools to create new knowledge and how it can be replicated by teachers with their students so that they actively integrate technological tools and be co-creators of new knowledge rather than being mere passive recipients of Information and Technology tools (ICT) .


On part of the teacher, reflecting on teaching practices lies at the heart of continuous professional development and stimulates self –awareness. Teachers can reflect on their pedagogical practices through their students and colleagues. Teachers of 21st century need to do periodic skill based assessments and evaluations which will help them to improve pedagogical skills as per latest trends and on desired modern learner aspirations. This will truly facilitate teachers in creating a need-based upskilling plan that can surely give vent to their teaching careers to the next level.

Mushtaq Ahmad Rather is a Teacher in School Education Department , District Anantnag

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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