The traditional model of passive learning is no longer enough to prepare students to survive and get ahead in today’s world.
It was evident in a 2006 study by The Conference Board, in partnership with Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The study showed that students graduating from secondary schools and technical colleges and universities lack a wide range of skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and teamwork.
A separate and more recent study in 2016 by the QS Intelligence Unit showed that the problem persists. According to the study, the skills graduated students learned do not match the skills that employers value today.
The Effects of the 21st-Century Skills Gap
The 21st-century skills gap causes businesses a considerable deal of money. Organisations spend to hire scarce talents that have the skills they value. If they do hire new employees that lack their expected skills, these new hires have to undergo training programs.
Today’s education still falls short in preparing students for 21st-century work. The curriculum in most schools still focuses on repetition and procedures, which are suitable for routine work. For students who want to pursue jobs involving creative work – like research, design, and development – they need complex communicating and thinking skills.
The massive shifts of globalisation and technology are expected to transform the workplace even further, creating jobs that might not exist until five to ten years later.
How IB Schools Are Closing the Gap
While educational systems around the world are struggling with the 21st-century skills gap, international baccalaureate (IB) schools are closing the divide. From the USA to Singapore, top IB schools across the world use holistic education to help students adapt to the changing demands of the global workforce.
Holistic education aims to help students develop their identity, meaning, purpose, and life by connecting them to the community, natural world, and values like compassion and peace. The curriculum doesn’t focus on a curriculum that condenses knowledge into instructional packages.
Instead, holistic learning aims to instil a love of learning by:
- Connecting all forms of learning
IB schools interconnect learning of one subject with another subject. For example, identifying animals in a science subject integrates skills like speaking, listening, and interacting.
- Incorporating the community
Aside from interactions with teachers and classmates, students of IB schools learn through interactions with the community. IB schools host events where family and community members share activities with the students.
- Incorporating nature
IB schools provide plenty of opportunities for students to interact with nature. From optimising the school facilities to trips to parks and zoos, their program allows children to appreciate and care for their environment.
- Considering the individual child
Holistic learning understands that every child has different interests, talents, and learning styles. They allow students to take charge of their learning so that they develop in ways that work for them.
The challenge that the academic and business world faces today is closing the gap of 21st-century skills among students and graduates. Preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet may be a challenge, but it is possible. It requires a collaborative effort and transformative thinking by students, schools, businesses, and policymakers.