Education in the 21st Century Global Challenges and Innovative Solutions

Education in the 21st Century Global Challenges and Innovative Solutions

In a world where robots, machines and software algorithms are replacing routine jobs traditionally done by people, education needs to rise to the challenge. A radical change, especially in the developing countries, is required in the ways education is delivered to the ‘digital natives’ of today and tomorrow.

Modern challenges – Modern skills 

Recently the world has experienced the rise of the” knowledge economy” where knowledge is primary production source instead of capital and labour.

The Economist Intelligence Unit study found that the set of skills required for handling such a fast-changing market is a combination of soft skills and traditional knowledge. Developing these skills at an early age is important if we want to have better leaders and team-workers that excel in our economic system.


The Partnership for 21st Century Learning association has listed 4 themes of modern education: Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration. They should be spread in the entire curriculum and direct the teaching strategies. The P21 has opened its own schools and has developed a widespread system of schooling which is now moving towards the popularization of international schools.



Alternatives methods of education 

In most of the developed countries the main educational paradigm is based on the principals of “Global Educational Reforms Movement (GERM)” whose main feature is the outcome-based, standardized education. However, some countries have implemented different reforms. 

In his book ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?’, Zhao, Y. states that national standards and curriculums, enforced by standardized testing, can at best teach students what is prescribed by their teachers. As a result, students talented in other areas never have the opportunity to discover those talents.  The system results in a population with similar skills in a narrow spectrum of talents.


    •  Finland is experimenting with “phenomenon teaching” that aims to train people for life’s problems.
    • Some educational thinkers are suggesting that the change should be bottom-up. Teachers and students need to work together to find new ways of partnering by using their specific skills.
    • According to Illich, the schooling system is based on the axiom that learning is a result of teaching. Thus, the school becomes an obligatory institution where you obtain knowledge from certified professionals. This preposition is has not proven to be entirely true, which explains the popularity of alternative methods of education.

      His theory generated in the 20th century has inspired research and modern solutions such as Ecopedagogy which is a transformative approach to teaching that critically engages practitioners and remains relevant.

Teaching strategies 

1. Project-based learning – allows students to engage in hands-on collaborative tasks and gives them the freedom to learn based on their learning styles. It encourages them to develop skills such as leadership and communication in natural environments.   

2. Problem-based learning – complex real-world problems are used as the vehicle to promote student learning of concepts and principles as opposed to direct presentation of facts and concepts. 

3. Technology integration – technology can be a great tool when used in the right way without allowing it to become too intrusive. Some of the ways it can benefit class are: participatory research, virtual field trips, feedback, digital citizenship, etc.  

4. Teacher as Facilitator – the teacher is no longer seen as an authoritative figure, but as someone who aids the learning journey of each individual. 

5. The flipped classroom – is a way of organizing the lesson where all the conventional rules are overrun and innovative approaches are followed.

Montessori Methods – Pedagogy based on child’s natural development process

Montessori Methods – Pedagogy based on child’s natural development process

🌱 The Montessori Method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. It is a child-centred educational approach that views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in an adequate learning environment.


It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the child as a whole, giving him the right to lead his own growth based on his inner potential. The method has been tested and has shown worldwide success for many years and it’s still popular today. The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), established by Maria Montessori in 1929 to protect the integrity of her work continues to uphold her vision while collaborating with contemporary research in neuroscience and child development.


🌾 The concept behind a Montessori classroom, is creating a match between available activities and the child’s natural development process. As they grow, children experience sensitive periods that are windows of opportunity where experiences have a greater impact in the development of a certain area of the brain. If you put children in a stimulating environment, they will be able to choose what attracts their attention according to their developmental needs.

The teacher, child, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher to encourage independence within certain limits. The child, through individual choice, makes use of what the environment offers to develop himself and interacts with the teacher when guidance is needed.

The second important aspect is multi-age classrooms which allows younger children to learn from older ones and older children to reinforce their learning by teaching something to their peers. This form of interaction mimics the real world and is beneficial for developing social skills.

Picture Credit : Flickr

🌿 The fact that this educational method lasted the test of time and has received few alterations despite scientific development in the field of education proves its worth. However there has not been a lot scientific research to evaluate exactly which aspect of the Montessori method is successful and which not.

A study made by Lillard and Else-Quest proved that children who received education in a Montessori school showed better results in social skills as well as certain academic skills. Most importantly, they felt had a more positive attitude towards school and felt a deeper sense of community.

Picture Credit : Pixabay

🌳 Is it worth it?

The Advantages are:

  • Hands-on learning based on real life experience
  • Independence and creative freedom
  • Social interactions through peer to peer learning
  • Development of a permanent sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn

The Disadvantages & Limitations are:

  • A less structured curriculum which can lead to educational gaps and lower performance in standardized tests.
  • Children lack routine and order in the classroom which can be something that offers them comfort
  • Montessori schools are limited in number and cost a lot
  • The transition of the child from Montessori education to traditional methods is often challenging and takes time for adjustment.

🍎 What makes Montessori unique is the core values and goals. The focus of this method is not to educate children who score high in standardized tests, that show nothing about them as individuals. Rather it is focused on raising the child as a “whole”, giving him independence over his own life and empowering him through the opportunity to make choices and decisions based on his own inner potentials.


🔗Few links to visit for more:

Evaluating Montessori Education by Lillard, A. S. & Else-Quest (PDF)
– Sensitive Periods in Child Development
– The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori (Book Amazon)
– Want to be a Montessori teacher?


🌄Sources for this article :

Age of Montessori
– Montessori education: a review of the evidence base, by Marshall, C. (npj Science of Learning v. 2, Article nr. 11)
– The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Montessori Nursery, by Mitchell S.

Parenting styles – What it takes to be a good parent?

Parenting styles – What it takes to be a good parent?

There is an ongoing debate in psychology about nature vs. nurture. What determines the personality and psycho – social adjustment, the genetic code or the parenting style and external events? The  debate won’t be settled soon. The truth, however, is that the relationship with the parents is crucial and determinant for a child’s future.

During the early 60′ the psychologist Baumrind conducted a study on preschool children and their parents to determine the types of parenting styles and their outcomes on the child’s psycho-social health. Based on this study there exist four major commonly accepted parenting styles.

Authoritarian parenting:

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  • The child is expected to follow strict rules set by the parent without explaining the reason behind them. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment.
  • The parent has high demands but is not very responsive to the child. He/she provides little guidance and the child is left wondering what to do and what not to do.
  • The parent-child relationship is based on obedience and hierarchy. The parent shows little regard for the child’s opinions and wishes.

Permissive parenting:

Picture Credit : Freepik
  • Commonly referred to as indulgent parent, he/she has very few demands towards the child because he/she holds low expectations of maturity and self-control.
  • The parent is nurturing and communicative, resembling more a friend than a parent.
  • The parent fails to set limits and rules and tends to not monitor the child’s behaviour
  • A recent approach called “Free range parenting”, popularized by Lenore Skenazy’s book, uses the positive aspects of this style. It encourages the child to function independently and with limited parental supervision

Uninvolved parenting

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  • Also known as the neglectful parent, is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication.
  • He/she fulfills the child’s basic human needs but shows little care about his psychological upbringing. There are no set rules, limits or structures set for the child to follow.

Authoritative parenting:

Picture Credit : Freepik
  • The parent establishes rules and guidelines for the child to follow, taking in account his/her *temperament and wishes followed by explaining the necessity of these rules.
  • He/she is responsive to the child and is willing to listen. He /she provides warmth and feedback.
  • The parenting is nurturing and assertive. He/ she monitors the child but is not restrictive or intrusive. He/she doesn’t use punishment to correct mistakes, but rather support, conversation and guidance.

A new emerging style of parenting called “helicopter parenting” is becoming very prominent in the modern times.

Picture Credit : Picswe
  •  It is characterized by “hovering “over the child without allowing him/her space and privacy.
  •  The parent is constantly intervening and covering the child’s mistakes.
  • The parent completes the tasks for the child – homework for example- instead of helping him/her to do them by themselves.

*Parental responsiveness is parental supportiveness and warmth. This refers to the degree that parents intentionally encourage individuality,self-regulation and self- assertion.

*Temperament is a set of individual differences that are biologically based such as impulsivity, sociability, emotionality.

Picture Credit : Freepik

Which style is the best?

The authoritative parenting style  is often considered the gold standard—the happy medium between the strict authoritarian parenting style and the permissive approach. It has been associated with the healthiest outcomes for adolescents, including lower rates of substance use, violence, and risky sexual behaviours as well as improved diet and increased physical activity. The child tends to have high self-esteem and pursues his/her goals with confidence. He/she grows to be a sociable adult with assertive behaviour. As an adult he/she handles more efficiently stressful or difficult situations and is less prone to mental health problems.

The authoritative style has such a big advantage toward the other styles because the parent is viewed as reasonable and the child complies with rules as a result of understanding them. He then follows to internalize them and develop a healthy sense of what is right and wrong. Opposed to the authoritarian style, the child follows the rules because he is scared of the punishment.

Picture Credit : Freepik

Some parents choose to give more freedom of choice to the child and to allow him/her to follow their gut and do whatever feels right. It is seen as progressive and modern, however it should be used with caution. Permissive parenting can lead to a child with low emotional balance, unrealistic expectations about life and with no sense of direction.

Of course, the parenting styles of individual parents also combine to create a unique blend in each family. This can sometimes lead to mixed signals. In order to create a cohesive approach to parenting, it is essential that parents learn to cooperate as they combine various elements of their unique parenting styles.

Raising a child nowadays can seem like a daunting and difficult experience. Faced with the pressures of modern life, parents are anxious about the way they educate their children and are often scared to make mistakes.

The good news is that there are no perfect parents and one small mistake will not risk the well-being of your child. Winnicott introduced the concept of “good enough parents” to reassure parents that there is no need to strive for perfection. You only need to give unconditional love, compassion and nurturing attention as well as set some general guidelines your child can follow to navigate this often confusing and challenging world.


🌄Sources for this article : 

  • Longmore, M. A., Manning, W. D., & Giordano, P. C. (2012), Handbook of Family Theories. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. 
  • Cherry, K (2018) Why Parenting Styles Matter When Raising Children. 
  • Smetana, J G (2017) Current research on parenting styles, dimensions, and beliefs 

🔗Few links to visit :  

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