As the future of work becomes increasingly uncertain, it is more important than ever for students to develop skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These “21st century” skills will help young people thrive in an uncertain future. Around the world, educators are finding creative ways to teach these skills.
Recently, the NXTEducator Summit in Taipei highlighted some of the innovative approaches being used to deliver 21st century skills in the Chinese-speaking world. The summit brought together over 100 teachers, administrators, and innovators from China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia to exchange ideas and learn from seven featured innovators.
One takeaway from the summit was the concept of “leapfrogging” – rapid, nonlinear progress in education that moves beyond the status quo and helps students develop the skills they need for the future. The Co-Publishing Project in Taiwan is an example of this, putting economically disadvantaged and immigrant students at the center of their own learning through hands-on photography projects. This student-centered approach fosters curiosity and self-expression through art. Another featured innovation, Teach for Taiwan, recruits university graduates and professionals to teach in economically disadvantaged primary schools, addressing the educational inequity between rural and urban communities.
Another trend highlighted at the summit was the use of advanced technology in education. For example, the Drone-based Interdisciplinary Learning and Entrepreneurship Education program in Hong Kong teaches secondary school students about drones in the classroom, using math, science, and coding skills to program and track the trajectories of drones. Students also get the chance to meet entrepreneurs and professionals who use drones in their careers and apply their learning to a real-life problem by measuring water quality through the use of drones.
In addition to new approaches, the summit also demonstrated how familiar models can be used in new ways. The Flexible Learning Spaces program in Singapore, for example, transforms traditional classrooms into flexible, student-centered learning environments that support collaboration and innovation. The program also trains teachers on how to use these spaces effectively.
Finally, the summit emphasized the importance of partnerships in driving innovation in education. Partnerships between schools, community organizations, and businesses can provide valuable resources and support for educational initiatives. One example is the Happy Learning Path program in Malaysia, which partners with local businesses to provide mentorship, internships, and job shadowing opportunities for students.