“Organizing [a] new learning model is the work of the 21st century" (Cookson, 2009, p.15). This is the challenge we are currently faced with as educators. Recent academic discourse has critiqued our current education system, claiming that we are left with the legacy of the industrial age which is “characterized by conformity, age cohorts, bells ringing to summon mass migrations and segregation of skills [that were] necessary for the workforce at that time” (We are the People, n.d.). This is a system that is no longer a ‘best fit’ situation for our students. Children who enter kindergarten this September will be retiring in 2070 (Cookson, 2009). In contemporary society, we do not know what specific skills children will need in the workforce when they become adults. Technology is “transforming how people work, think, and connect” (Azzam, 2009, p.24). Changes in technology mean that skills required are continually evolving. For example, we did not see a need for web page designers twenty years ago. Therefore, it is impossible to know what choices will be available for our children when they reach adulthood. We need to teach our children skills that will be transferable in a changing world. Most importantly, they must learn how to learn. As leaders in the classroom, therefore, teachers need to be aware of this emergent nature of our society. This needs to be reflected in the classroom.
In my essay, I will argue that as teachers we need to draw from both transactional and transformational theories of leadership as they can help us understand how to effectively manage our learning environments but that we also need to begin to consider the complexity of an emerging society, promoting both creative and critical thinking. This requires us to move beyond these theories, taking a complexivist approach to leading learning. It is imperative that, as teachers, we ask the question: considering the emergent nature of society, how should teachers lead learning in their classrooms?
21st Century Learning
“It is the job of education to help kids make sense of the world they’re going to live in” and yet we do not know what our world will look like ten years from now (Azzam, 2009, p.24). “The challenges we currently face are without precedent” (Azzam, 2009, p.24). Advances in technology have changed the way we communicate with others and have provided new methods in which we can engage in learning (Azzam, 2009). “A new electronic learning environment is replacing the linear, text-bound culture of conventional schools” (Cookson, 2009, p.12). There have never been more people living on our planet and this has created an ever increasing strain on our natural resources (Azzam, 2009).
Consequently, it is necessary for our 21st century students to learn to “manage the complexity and diversity of our world by becoming more fluid, more flexible, more focused on reality, and radically more innovative” (Cookson, 2009, p.10). Sir Ken Robinson...