Op-Ed: The challenge of a new student in a new society and economy

Written by  //  March 13, 2013  //  In-Brief  //  No comments

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Author Carmen Z. Claudio is president of the Private Education Association of Puerto Rico

Author Carmen Z. Claudio is president of the Private Education Association of Puerto Rico

The core challenge we face today as educators is this: previous generations before the 70’s have been educating generations for an unknown and changing world in which uncertainty is the order of the day in job opportunities and the economy. The relevance of much what we teach expires before you get the diploma and set out to get a job.

Many of our classrooms are designed so we all go at the same pace: learn evenly and be evaluated by the same tests. The major challenge of schooling in Puerto Rico today is to open itself to a diversity that embraces individuality in a fast paced and rapidly changing world.

To achieve this, it is necessary to be able to fit different types of intelligences and learning styles in our education process. To prepare our students to compete globally, the school cannot be prisoner of a uniformed and inflexible pattern, but a model that embraces individuality and encourage critical thinking. Only them will we truly prepare our students to compete globally.

Children and youth of these new generations should have the power of consciousness and choice, because eventually their historical legacy be scrutinized, and in turn they themselves will judge what was taught and why. That is why what we teach has to be designed to serve the needs of students living in an open, globalized, and technologically advanced world.

Are we getting a clear message out there that the “person,” the individual, is key in this and not a uniform, inflexible system? Are we prepared to facilitate individualized learning and development?

The project of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills focuses on the citizen of this century and the subjects taught are at the service of developing real skills for careers and life, learning innovation, communication, information and technology.

The ASCD Whole Child Education warns that this new citizen must be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. Are we educating in Puerto Rico this new citizen living in a world that changes from minute to minute?

During its recent convention before more than 4,000 private school educators, the Association of Private Education advocated for this individual’s future and for bringing education to their service and not the opposite.

Through more than 90 educational proposals presented by experts from Puerto Rico, United States and Spain, we carry the message that the challenge, and the solution is in our hands.

Thus, a radical change in the concept of class is imminent. The only way we will achieve a transformation of our educational systems that really impacts our students and prepare them for the 21st century.

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