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New Educational Paradigm

In 2010, the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, published Sir Ken Robinson’s seminal speech ‘Changing Education Paradigms’. His speech summarised the inability of contemporary education, that which is “modelled on the interests of industrialism and in the image of it” (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, 2010), to respond to the needs of learners in the 21st century.

As affirmed by educational theorists and the history of the Prussian educational model (O'Brien and Howard, 2016; Suciu and Litra, 2017; Mackenzie, 1894; Parker and Parker, 1991), the purpose of systemised education was two-fold, to remove the monopoly religious faiths had over education and to educate the workforce in order to improve commerce and industry production (Parker and Parker, 1991). Interestingly, in ‘Education in England and Wales; an annotated bibliography, Parker and Parker (1991) reports that the ‘Newcastle Commission’, 1861, recommended “continued voluntary church and private school initiative supplemented by state aid based “Payment by Results”; i.e., grants based on students’ academic ability shown through test results.” The ineffectiveness of this system was later highlighted by HMI (Inspector) Matthew Arnold who in c.1865 blamed irregular attendance and [students] dropping out for the poor performance of schools. Similar argument to this end still continues 150 years later (Manzeske et al., 2016; Springer et al., 2011; Hunter, 2010).

Creating The New Paradigm for Education

For educational reform to be effective, we cannot continue to do what we have done in the past (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, 2010). For contemporary education to engage students it must, as Robinson argues , be “waking [learners] up to what they have inside of themselves” (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, 2010: c. 6:27). Political legislators, educational leaders, educators and parents need to liven to the needs of learners and their goals and provide a context for what education has to offer (Hattie, 2009). It is therefore relevant to investigate the effectiveness of learning approaches and structures that can leverage engagement in order to conceive an evolutionary system that responds to the learning needs of the 21st century. Undoubtingly, the framework for a new educational model resides in a matrix of what is currently understood as effective practice.

Approaching Discovering a New Paradigm

For the purpose of forming a new model of teaching and learning, I will summarise a selection of educational research and further intertwine it into proposed educational paradigm. To this end, I aim to illustrate how my model for 21st century learning will be able to instil the 21st century skills associated with the future needs of education, society and commerce. I aim to imbed key 21st century literacies, competencies and qualities (World Economic Forum, 2015) and show how these can be facilitated by schools, teachers, curricular, and teaching approaches (Hattie, 2009).

To provide an understanding of the inter-dependent narratives contributing to 21st century skills, my research will draw from educational journals, periodicals and government literature.

21st Century Skills

The World Economic Forum (2015) argues that the contemporary labour market requires a completely different mix of skills to that of the past. It suggests that the shift in skill demand has highlighted an unforeseen skill shortage and inherent deficiencies in adult literacies. This acute shortage of proficiencies in “problem-solving in technology-rich environments” is a reflection of education failing to echo the progress of economic environments and society’s dependence on technology in an age of information. Supporters of the 21st century skills movement have attempted to respond these needs (Cisco, 2015; ISTE, 2017; P21, 2017; Curriculum Corporation, 2008) but a ubiquitous definition and classification of these skills continues to be ill defined (Vogt and Pareja Roblin, 2010; Vogt and Pareja Roblin, 2012). However, Vogt and Pareja Roblin (2012) and Dede (2009) conclude that despite the differences in the categorisation of the skills, the skills themselves are generally comparable.

For the basis of my model, I will utilise the 21st Century Skills as outlined by the World Economic Forum (2015). A basis for doing so is predominately linked to the independence of the World Economic Forum and their mission to “improve the state of the world” (World Economic Forum, 2015) as a not for profit organisation who brings together a diverse range of influencers and leaders from around the world.

Next Week: Towards a New Educational Paradigm: The Guided Learner Model


Cisco I, Microsoft. (2015) Transforming Education: Assessing and Teaching 21st Century Skills. Microsoft.
Curriculum Corporation. (2008) National Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 20.
Dede C. (2009) Comparing Frameworks for 21st century skills.
Hattie J. (2009) Visible Learning, London & New York: Routledge.
Hunter RC. (2010) Merit or performance-based pay: A look at teacher compensation. School Business Affairs 76(2): 20.
ISTE. (2017) ISTE. Available at:
Mackenzie JC. (1894) The Report of the Committee of Ten. The School Review 2(3): 10.
Manzeske D, Garland M, Williams R, et al. (2016) Teacher performance pay signals and student achievement: Are signals accurate, and well do they work? Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness: 13.
O'Brien C and Howard P. (2016) The Living School: The Emergence of a Transformative Sustainbility Education Paradigm. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 10(1): 16.
P21. (2017) P21: Partnership fo 21st Century Learning. Available at:
Parker F and Parker BJ. (1991) Education in England and Wales: An Annotated Bibliography. New York, 616.
Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts MaC. (2010) Ken Robinson - Changing education paradigms. RSA.
Springer MG, Ballou D, Hamilton L, et al. (2011) Teacher Pay Performance: Experimental evidence from the project on incentives in teaching (POINT). Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness: 10.
Suciu T and Litra AV. (2017) The Education Crisis and Homo Zapiens. Journal of Smart Economic Growth 2(1): 12.
Vogt J and Pareja Roblin N. (2010) 21st Century Skills: Discussion Paper. Enshede: University of Twente.
Vogt J and Pareja Roblin N. (2012) A comparative analysis of international frameworks for 21st Century competences: Implications for national curriculum policies. Journal of Curriculum Studies 44(3): 299-321.
World Economic Forum. (2015) New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potenial of Technology. Switzerland: World Economic Forum.

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