What kinds of students do schools need to produce for the 21st century?

Annette Willemse -- Tue, 01/19/2016 - 11:39

What kinds of students do schools need to produce for the 21st century?

What kinds of students do schools do schools need to produce for the 21st century? This was the central question addressed by Prof Deborah Eyre, former deputy dean at Oxford Brookes University (UK) and current chief executive of Deborah Eyre International Consultancy Limited, during her recent visit to the Optentia Research Focus Area on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal).


Prof Mary Grosser (Optentia) and Prof Deborah Eyre in discussion

During her visit Prof Eyre presented a workshop, student lecture and several seminar presentations on how schools need to go about producing students for the 21st century.  “The world we live in is globally connected and saturated with information. In order for students to become advanced performers, global leaders who are capable of improving things locally and globally, and entrepreneurs who can apply creative and innovative thinking to solve problems, they need to master essential skills, attitudes and dispositions,” said Prof Eyre.

According to Prof Eyre, students need exposure to learning experiences that meet them at their respective developmental levels, engage them deeply and let them progress at a pace that meets their individual needs.  Prof Eyre furthermore argues that high performance is achievable for the majority of students, as opposed to a few, based on new thinking around concepts such as capabilities and potential.

Prof Deborah Eyre

Neuro-science and Psychology propose a new way of doing

Neuro-science and Psychology suggest that the human brain is malleable; therefore, it is possible to increase capability to learn and build better brains. As a result, it is possible that schools can and need to nurture the ways of thinking and behavior exhibited by successful students systematically and intentionally, among all learners. “A symphony needs to be created between the 21st century competencies required to think and behave effectively, to enable students to become advanced performers, global leaders, and innovative entrepreneurs,” explains Prof Eyre.

To create this symphony between thinking and behaving, Prof Eyre created a user-friendly High Performance Learning Framework to shape teaching and learning in the classroom.  The framework proposes that basic abilities can be developed through commitment, dedication and hard work, and that brains and talent are only the starting point.  In short: potential alone is not enough to ensure advanced high performance, but that opportunities for challenging and enquiry-based learning, support and motivation are key ingredients in the success recipe.