Teachers VS Students in the 21st Century

I am an educator. And I know education is going through challenging times.

Though living in the same milieu, today’s educator and today’s learner are like the two faced Roman God of transition, Janus. The student looks outward, beckoning to the future whereas most teachers look backwards, reminiscing the past. The text savvy digital citizen is given learning experiences by the bookish adult who uses the textbook as the prop and actually gets spaces out when it comes to tech tools and digital devices. So, the earlier our educator colleagues adapt to the changing scenario the better for us, lest we get fossilized.

During our student days you and I depended entirely on our teachers for information – they were in fact our primary and many a time our only source of knowledge. Today’s children on the other hand have technology devices, the World Wide Web and a host of other digital sources for their primary information. To them, we, educators are only the secondary source.

We were taught to focus on subjects when we were children and even in our very much outdated B.Ed. training courses. So we continue to lecture and use the hanging-all-children-on-one-academic-clothesline method of chalk and talk. We seem to be “stuck in a fixed body of knowledge and pass it on via drip feed” 1 – ouch!!! We do integrate ICT into our lesson (a PPT or You tube video at the most); yet, we are much more comfortable doing what we are past masters at – teaching lessons or more fondly “portions”. The word, “portion”, itself conjures in my mind the picture of morsels of food being thrust forcefully down throats of students! Besides, our Indian educational system is so very skeptical and conservative about using digital devices smart phones, I-pads and tablets in our classrooms.

I look at my 12 year old nephew. He is truly a 21st century learner. Give him a new digital device and he is all engrossed in learning how to use it. You and I need a manual. But not him! He explores and through cycles of trial and error learns. Soon he is thorough with all the functions of the device. Take him through a traditional lesson, he is stiff bored. His mind would have wandered in 5 minutes to a hundred different things – imagine how much of this would happen in a 40 minute session! It is these kinds of children whom we subject to the torture of depending on text books and hardly ever provide any hands on experience.  We subject them to our boring drones and expect them to listen.

We need to seriously relook at our classroom transactions and see if we are actually helping our pupils to prepare for tomorrow.


1 Gilbert, Ian; (2010) Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google? The essential guide to the big issues for every twenty first century teacher: Routledge

6 thoughts on “Teachers VS Students in the 21st Century

  1. That was truly thought provoking Asha!!! I think some Indian schools have already realized it and started distributing Tablets in schools. I mean the CBSE schools. In a gap of 6 years I could feel the difference!!! Now you may ask why 6? Well that’s the age difference between my girls. 🙂 .. Keep writing Asha…. Educators like you make all the difference… 🙂


  2. As an educator myself, a Physics teacher at that, I realized a few days into my teaching experience that traditional chalk and talk NEVER works…except for long winded derivations, which the kids usually mechanically take down, cram up the day before the xam and vomit in the paper. Since then I bring tech into class, be it e-pathshala or videos. My kids know that their Physics teacher is tech saavy 😀 Now, a regular day in my class would comprise of questions, loads of them, which brings out the best in my kids. I can happily say that they want to explore, and as an educator I give them ample space and opportunity to prove the teacher (aka, me) wrong, respectfully 😀 . Today’s educator needs to realize that he/she is in a losing race against other sources of knowledge. Then why do we need an educator in the first place, one might ask. It is to facilitate the kids to differentiate what to take in and what to chuck out. Oh, and speaking their lingo helps a heap too 😀


    • I agree with you Ma’am. We need to restructurize and redefine our educational systems and strategies . As we move towards the digital land scape ,schools should support teachers in handling the digtal tools and learn innovative techinques that can instil interest in students to enhance their 21st century skills . Teachers will have to become constant learners and learn along with students . If schools focus upon developing and creating new strategies then,we can redefine ourselves as potent 21st century educators. Are we willing to change to meet to the needs of students we serve? Will our school invest huge amounts in training our teachers to power up ? I am sure that very soon, school leaders will understand the role of digital technologies and faclitiate the requried training and learning for all involved in the pupil’s progress. Good Luck ! I am glad that you started this blog .


  3. Thank you Sheela for your kind words of encouragement. There is such a lot we can do; yet we are unable to do them. Our plight is like the famous quote of Rousseau, “Man is born free, but everywhere he’s in chains,” Wish we are able break all those shackles and fetters! May be one day we will!!! 🙂


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