How Do We Teach 21st Century Students?

May 31, 2016 by Crescerance
Portrait of pretty girl typing on laptop among her group mates

By: TJ Scholl from SEEN Magazine

All students, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds, are equally deserving and capable of responding to educational experiences and opportunities that prepare them to be globally competent. So how do we as educators continuously create opportunities and deliver instruction that affects the global competence of them all? One option is to provide students with instructional practices that consistently engage global content, multicultural perspectives and problem solving across subject areas.

The most successful global education approaches recognize the attitudes, skills and knowledge students needed to navigate, contribute to and flourish in the world — and they integrate activities that purposefully resolve opportunity gaps among students on a daily basis. So the big question is what do globally competent students look like?

While the definition of global competence is dynamic, these seven soft skills and characteristics are widely seen as what students need to be globally competent today.

Appreciation of Culture

Students see their own cultures as strengths, seek to understand the cultures of others, are aware of similarities and differences among cultures, and understand that behaviors and values are often tied to cultures. With that knowledge, we can better appreciate where others are coming from and even begin to understand certain thought processes behind decisions and behaviors. When students begin to appreciate different cultures, they have the opportunity to find similarities between themselves and others, instead of focusing on differences.

Evaluation Of Information

Students regularly question easily accessible information to seek deeper understanding and thoughtfully evaluate materials and perspectives, rather than accepting things at face value. Students who investigate information and materials on their own begin to uncover new information that may open other doors to new thoughts, ideas or practices. With this comes deeper understanding of the world around them.

Cross-Cultural Communication Skills

Students effectively exchange ideas with peers and adults from different backgrounds — either virtually or in person — and have the skills to enter new communities and spaces. Communication skills can come in many shapes and sizes and range from both verbal to nonverbal. What may be accepted as a proper greeting in one culture may be considered the complete opposite in another, making communication skills an integral part of global competence.

Perspective Skills

Students demonstrate curiosity and empathy and may show compassion for the perspectives of others. Perspective directly ties into several other aspects of global competence, as it is the culmination of many soft skills that enable us to have perspective on other student’s cultures and beliefs.

Intelligent Humility

Students understand that their knowledge is not finite and appreciate how much more there is to learn about the world. Students understand the grandiosity of the world and its complexities. Knowing what is going on in the world around you, or the fact that there is more to be known about life outside of your town can be the beginning of anyone’s global competence journey.

Divergent Thinking

Students see alternative or original solutions to existing problems and can envision the world differently from how it currently exists. Thinking outside the box can lead students to new ideas or inventions that may lead to the improvement of the lives of those around them. With creativity come new opportunities that have the potential to shape and enhance behavior.

Technological Literacy

Students utilize and explore existing technologies to communicate and collaborate with others and to learn and share new ideas and information. Students create new technologies or discover new uses for technologies that help them and others navigate their worlds. With 21st century students, technology is an endless possibility, and it should be explored and promoted as an innovative way of teaching and learning.

Content originally appeared in SEEN Magazine Issue 18.1. See full article here.