Learning for the 21st Century
Much has been said and written in recent years about the rapid and unprecedented pace of technological and societal changes, and the subsequent new skill set necessary for the 21st century. Research tells us that certain irrevocable changes have already occurred and need our full attention as we strive to design a curriculum that is indeed relevant to our students’ future.
First, we can safely assume that during the course of their professional lives, many of our graduates’ skills will be rendered obsolete by further automation or outsourcing, making it critical for them to be able to reinvent themselves and constantly master new skills. Our students will be put to a true test of lifelong learning. Secondly, technology providing immediate access to massive amounts of information and instant connectivity for all that information to be shared with a worldwide audience is a powerful force that has in effect democratized information sharing and created the need for new skills and mindsets. Lastly, as very few concerns remain of a local nature in a “flattened world,” students of this century will be expected to hone a profound understanding of the global community and its diversity. The business of good schools must be to educate students who can think, communicate, and lead in the context of these changes, while building a firm classical foundation.
Striving to educate students with the ability to think critically and skeptically is not a new concept and must remain a fundamental skill embedded in a school’s core curriculum. New variables, however, have made “right brain”, creative thinking essential to student success in this century. Daniel Pink, in A Whole New Mind, rightfully argues that while sequential, logical, and analytical thinking skills rewarded in the 20th century are still essential, the 21st century belongs to non-linear, intuitive, holistic, right brain thinkers, Both types of cognitive abilities must be valued and emphasized in 21st century schools.
In order to be effective, good thinkers need to master complex communication skills. Communication skills, not unlike thinking skills, have evolved to cover a new aptitude spectrum, from superior basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics, to the most advanced and sophisticated forms of information and media literacy. New technologies have created a world of mass collaboration that students need to learn how to navigate safely and intelligently. Schools truly dedicated to educating tomorrow’s leadership have the responsibility to empower their students with the mastery of a broad range of multi-lingual communication tools, traditional as well as digital, and to teach them how to use them in ways that are competent, thoughtful, and ethical.
Buckley, as a school community, aspires to do more than prepare students for personal success. We embrace the responsibility to graduate students ready to lead meaningful, contributing lives. A value-based education is the cornerstone experience of future principled leaders. New concerns on a global scale have rendered the purpose of educating and nurturing an enlightened, moral and caring leadership even more central to the mission of 21st century schools.
The success of a school, as measured by its ability to graduate highly educated and caring thinkers, communicators, and leaders, is directly proportional to the quality and commitment of its faculty. Buckley teachers demonstrate a sincere interest in each of their students as individual persons and understand that that relationship is key to lifelong and joyful learning. They are able to consider their students’ learning in class as but one piece of their overall growth and education. They hold every student to high standards of effort, achievement, and character. They challenge them and motivate them to excel, take risks, and explore throughout the learning process and in all their endeavors, be they intellectual, athletic, or artistic. Effective teaching is recognized in a teacher’s ability to differentiate and broaden his or her repertoire of teaching strategies and techniques, to seek innovative ways to optimize and enhance student learning, and to develop a lasting understanding of the concepts essential to a particular discipline.
Buckley offers countless opportunities to expand learning beyond the classroom walls and to bring the world’s experience and knowledge into its midst.
Our school community possesses the necessary vision to remain a leader in the high level education of a responsible global citizenship.