The challenges of a 21st-century modern education

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For several decades, the nuances of the teaching-learning process have guided the research work of social scientists. The different pedagogical approaches have assigned diverse teacher roles:  in reaching modern education, they have to transmit knowledge, mentor and lecture, a supervisor or guide, and even the educational researcher.

For a pedagogy that meets the challenges of 21st-century education, the role of the teacher as a guide is vital.

Student-centred educational

The student-centred educational models propose that the teacher facilitate the encounter between problems and questions that are significant for the students and the informative content. At the same time, they encourage them to question their surroundings and interrogate themselves. The role of the teacher is to create an atmosphere that incites students to active participation at all times. That will be achieved by creating an environment of respect and reciprocity (in an appropriate place, with teaching materials and participatory teaching methods, and interpersonal relationships based on respect, tolerance and trust). The teacher ceases to be an authority figure and becomes a facilitator.

This approach is based on the belief that the person has an inherent capacity to know and understand himself and make use of this tool; he is curious, eager for information from the world around him and capable of learning. If the individual finds something good for him that serves him to improve himself, and he tends to perform this action.

Student is responsible

The student is responsible for the learning process. It is he who builds knowledge, who learns. The student reconstructs objects of knowledge that are established. For example, students develop their learning process from the written language system, which is already developed and well-established; so are algebraic operations, the concept of historical time, and the norms of social relationships.

The teacher has to be dynamic, be open to new forms of teaching and empathetic. She should provide the necessary resources so that the student can be the most significant expression of himself during the learning process, to enable him to choose the path that best suits him in the educational field.

Learning should not be imposed through exhaustive curricula, compulsory exams or the same benchmarks to measure the knowledge of different individuals. But for meaningful learning to be achieved, it is also necessary that it be self-initiated, that is, linked to the student’s personality, to his personal needs and objectives, thus leading to penetrating learning.

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Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.

Marcel Decombis, Head of European School, Luxembourg between 1953 and 1960