We no longer live in an industrial age. Life in the XXI century is very different and it makes little sense to continue learning as if it were a production line. The types of skills we need to thrive in this contemporary world are quite different from the past, hardly can they be standardised on isolated disciplines, traditional authorities and institutions.
Approaches to education have shifted, instead of focusing on teacher-taught knowledge, they are becoming learner-centred, focused on skills, competences and so-called “meta-competences”.
Contemporary pedagogical frameworks, such as constructivism, encourage students to “build” their own knowledge individually and collaboratively by connecting with themselves, their prior knowledge and experiences.
In the past, superficial learning was considered enough: memorizing facts, selecting the correct answer to problems that always were well defined. But to be equipped for today’s world, superficial learning is not enough. “Facts” are rapidly changing and do not come free from interpretation, but embedded into all kinds of meaningful narratives. Today’s “skills” may be obsolete in a decade. We have plenty of manuals or machines that are obsolete long ago, travel guides to countries that did not exist. The world changes faster than ever but our imagination remains the same as we were at schools.
We need active learning approaches that involve students in their own development, approaches that develop higher-order skills such as critical thinking, self and collective awareness, system and future thinking, and the ability to be agile, flexible, and adaptable.
The world no longer rewards people just for the information they have in mind, search engines have data of everything, and process it faster than any human being. Education is becoming increasingly about intuition and creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, including our ability to recognize and exploit the potential of new technologies, and about the character qualities that help people be satisfied to live and work together and to build a sustainable humanity.
The traditional separation of “two cultures”, the scientific and the humanistic, reason and calculation against emotion and intuition, makes no sense in the XXI Century.