What does it mean to teach in the 21st century?



In the century of new technologies and informatization, every individual has an opportunity to learn and explore the World by himself. Since most of the learners have an access to any information anytime and anywhere the teachers are not only recourses to gain new knowledge.  One can ask: “what could the teacher teach me if everything is on the Internet?” and his or her question is relevant today. The contemporary educational system requires changes in the content and methodology of pedagogy, also it is widely believed as a global issue in educational institutions. Aslan (2015)  explicates that nowadays teachers are facilitators who help to understand, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information, moreover trigger to make own decisions and find possible solutions. These are crucial skills in the 21st century to successfully conceptualize their knowledge in real life. In this post we will  determine the role of the teacher in the 21st century education.

I guess many of you saw the video of Richard Williams (2016) with inspirational monolog about the lack of changes in educational system and decrease of students’ potential through school programs. I am strongly agree with Williams in this case and claim that the form how educational system designed occurs to be old, moreover the content loses the link with reality. However, there are talented professionals who struggle with old model of teaching and make steps to ameliorate the education system for new global citizens. It is crucial to identify skills that those facilitators have.

Teacher of the 21st century is flexible, friendly, innovative, creative and has skills of the researcher. Students trust and respect the teacher who hears and supports the voices of his or her students, is open to communicate, differentiate students and more friendly than authoritative (Roffey & McCarthy, 2013). These characteristics relate to individual qualities than professional ones; however, the relationship between the student and the teacher one of the most important requirements of productive learning. Roffey and McCarthy (2013) in their study emphasize that the positive relationship affects on academic outcomes of students and they “ feel comfortable and safe in environments that are supportive and caring, and the importance of caring and enthusiastic teachers to make this happen” (p. 51). Thus, the student-centered learning based on positive relationship benefits in the academic outcomes.

In the era of innovations teachers underpin the significance of implementing new ways of delivering knowledge; therefore, they practice different approaches. One of the supporters of Innovative education projects is WISE Initiative by Qatar Foundations. With the help of this organization many creative educators could spread their ideas and implement new approaches successfully.  Little Ripples is one of the projects awarded by WISE in 2016. The aim of the project is to provide refugees with an access to education. But creators of the project do not support financially, they train mothers as teachers and introduce the skeleton of curriculum for early childhood development. Teachers in their turn use the skeleton and implement their activities which reflect their cultural values. The project doesn’t compromise qualified education, but gives the opportunity to rise the literacy of isolated refugees. In this example facilitators demonstrate sympathy, enthusiasm, collaboration skills and empower needy people with new approach to education delivering.

Also today it is necessary to be not only practitioners but researchers to discover needs of contemporary learners and design more productive processes of learning. Aslan (2013) in her study discovers that learning through teaching is beneficial approach “to gain many competences such as creativity, independence, self-confidence, self-efficacy, teamwork, communication, complex thinking, empathy, knowledge on searching and managing, research methodology, presentation and discussion skills, digital skills (using internet tools), punctuality, reliability, and patience” (p. 1142). In this approach learners teach the whole lesson or the part of the lesson on given topic. While the students take an active role, the teacher acts as an observer. With the help of accounting students’ abilities the teacher determines where and how to improve his or her teaching practice.

Now we see that today teachers’ ability to organize positive and engaging atmosphere of learning is valuable. So, what does it mean to teach in the 21st century? It means to motivate, to reveal, to trigger students explore the World by themselves, show how to synthesize challenging amount of information and master skills that are crucial in the 21st century, but not only lecture and force to memorize facts. What do you think?


Aslan, S. (2015). Is learning by teaching effective in gaining 21st century skills? The views of pre-service science teachers. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 6, 1441-1457.

Roffey, S., & McCarthy, F. (2013). Circle Solutions, a philosophy and pedagogy for learning positive relationships: What promotes and inhibits sustainable outcomes?. International Journal of Emotional Education, 5(1), 36.

Williams, R. (2017). I just sued the school system. [online] Retrieved 16 April 2017 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqTTojTija8

Picture Retrieved 16 April 2017 from: https://allthingslearning.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/the-21st-century-teacher-trainer/

1 thought on “What does it mean to teach in the 21st century?

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Assem (5/5). You struggle with an important issue that all teachers today should be aware of. 17 years into the 21st century, I am always curious to know how the term “21st century skills” or “21st century” teaching has changed from something futuristic, to something rather taken for granted. It is certainly a question worth discussing more!

    Liked by 1 person

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