The 21st century teacher

Credit to Author: TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON| Date: Thu, 16 May 2019 17:52:56 +0000

TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

Part 2 – Teacher characteristics in the Knowledge Age

LAST week’s write-up described the meaning of knowledge in the 21st century as far different from its 20th century meaning. The 20th century being the Age of Industrialization, products had to be uniform throughout; they had to meet specifications true to all of their kind. One size fits all. Products had to be standardized. So, too, education. The curriculum, instructional approaches, assessments — in fact all aspects of teaching and learning, had to be standardized. All teachers and learners had to fit in to what was considered coming up to standards. In the post-industrial or Knowledge Age (21st century), people had need of not only the content and the kinds of knowledge. Undergoing a change in meaning, 21st century knowledge content ceased to be static, but keeps changing. It no longer is a mere product but “a kind of energy that flows,” not fixed for what it is, but what it can do, what we can use with it — to improve life, ours and that of planet earth.

Four features of knowledge. Lower-level knowledge is the “what” and is factual and conceptual knowledge. Higher-level knowledge is the “how” and is procedural and meta-cognitive knowledge. It is important for us teachers to have students learn factual knowledge — the basic information about a discipline, its vocabulary definitions and specific details. This information serves as building blocks to understand the larger relationships among the more important bits and pieces of information that define a field of study. Combining these details is conceptual knowledge, forming categories, principles and models. This knowledge is about “knowing the interrelations among basic elements within a structure that enables them to function together.” (Anderson et al., 2001, p. 29). Equally important is that we teachers develop in our students the higher form of knowledge — procedural knowledge. This consists of knowing ‘‘how to do something, methods of inquiry, and criteria for using subject-specific skills, algorithms, techniques and methods,’’ as well as “the criteria for using them.” (Anderson et al.,2001, p. 29). Metacognitive knowledge, the second higher form of knowledge, consists of knowing “strategies for how to accomplish tasks, knowing about the demands of various tasks, and knowing one’s capabilities for accomplishing various tasks” <https://www.scribd. com/doc/14554355/Know ledge-Types-Revised>.

Multi-forms of 21st century knowledge. The 21st century knowledge that we discuss in our classrooms has ceased to be the stuff that is found in assigned textbooks or lectures that we draw from literature review. As we were taught decades earlier, knowledge is classified into disciplines or fields of study. Each discipline had its own fundamentals or basics narrowing up to a specialization. But with the coming of the 21st century, the disciplines sought breadth in other disciplines to increase applicability of knowledge. Thus, the disciplines expanded into what is termed as multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, intra-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary. These forms are exhibited in using a discipline in the service of another discipline. Procedures of a discipline may be adopted in another discipline and all sorts of integration are tried to tap how knowledge may be used to create, innovate and adapt new knowledge to improve life in all its forms and needs. The goal of 21st century knowledge is not merely knowing the “what” of knowledge but to adapt knowledge, create and use knowledge even as we are able to locate and assess new information, recognizing what may be fake and what may be genuine. The dynamics in using knowledge has given birth to new forms of knowledge that obviously constitute more than one discipline. Combining or integrating the disciplines has given rise to courses such as biochemistry, biomechanics, geophysics, socioeconomics, socio or psycholinguistics, psychological anthropology, legal/medical ethics, etc. Since knowledge keeps growing, interdisciplinary dynamics is “continuous, multidirectional and multidimensional and inevitable” <http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/96850/11 /11_chapter%203.pdf>.

21st century skills for teachers. How can we, teachers, ensure that we have done our part very well in our students’ education? Do we focus on developing skills they need to succeed in this Knowledge Age as well as their confidence in making sense of knowledge such that they can share and use it in smart ways? To share ideas requires that students understand what their ideas or questions are, so that they learn to communicate these with clarity. How can we model clarity? We can by being explicit in wording expected learning outcomes and assessment forms. We can by jointly drawing up with our students our outcomes-based syllabus. With robots invading labor, there rarely are routine jobs to fill up. Thus, our students need creativity, transferring knowledge and content in a discipline to another discipline where disciplines meet, in the service of one another. This way, students can’t be behind. They can come up with innovative problem-solving. Since the collective genius of a group is more than the sum of its parts, we need to provide collaboration or teamwork opportunities for our students which at the same time challenges them “to keep learning and using their learning to meet targets drawn by themselves with us advising, challenging, coaching and encouraging them.” Besides creativity, perseverance, self-direction and adaptability, we teachers are to foster and nurture in our students an inquiring mind. This we can do by coaching them in conducting investigative studies, developing their research skills, exposing them to theories and their applications and how from these, they could anchor further investigations and thus contribute to coming up with new knowledge. Also, that they themselves keep on learning <https://www.rubicon.com/21st-century/l>.

Next week: Academic writing
in graduate studies

Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph

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