You better become a 21st century learner

By Diana Van Der-Stelt - BLOGGER(Trinity Software Center) | December 2017.

In our connected, information driven world of today, many people feel overwhelmed by the pace of technological change and the increasing exposure to other cultures from all over the planet. You may feel comfortable to have finished your college degree some time ago, or you may be very eager to be done with it next year. You may joke about your own lack of social media skills, or about your mother, who does not know how to use her smartphone. You may think that it is fine to just speak your mother tongue and hang out with people from your own tribe. But sorry, the world has changed and if you want to be successful, you better embrace this new reality and cope with it.

A lot is being said about the need to transform the educational system and introduce so-called 21st century skills in the curriculum of primary schools and high schools. In the Netherlands many committed educational professionals are taking steps to change schools.

In West-Africa organizations like Maxim Nyansa IT Solutions advocate this development in their “Learning Transformation” approach for High Schools as reflected by models like the one in the picture at the top of this blog. They urge that children should be prepared for the 21st century job market through a relevant curriculum, rather than for the jobs of the 1990’s.

At the same time, those of us who have finished school already, have to deal with the rapidly changing world in our private and professional lives. We happen to live in that same 21st century as these students in school. So whether you are 25 or 75, it is advisable to become a 21st century learner, and eventually, a teacher to others too.

While you look around and follow the news, you will see changes come your way all the time. Your current job may no longer exist 5 years from now. People from other cultures may move into your neighborhood. Your computer or phone operating system changes completely once again. And inevitably, most of us will have to answer these big and difficult questions:

  • Who am I really, what are my special talents and passions?
  • What am I called to do, what is my mission in life?
  • What role do I want to play in the coming years as a citizen on planet earth?
  • What are the skill sets I need to get there?
  • What people and resources are going to help me in my learning process?

Briefly, the set of answers to these questions is what is called a personal development plan, and it has become an indispensable tool to help you navigate yourself through life and be the entrepreneur running the “ME Ltd”. With a personal development plan, you organize yourself in a deliberate way, to learn and improve yourself to be prepared for the future.

How challenging this may seem, the good news is that you do not need a psychologist or a lot of money to achieve this. A fair dose of self-discipline, a small group of friends who are willing to give you honest feedback on question number 1 and an internet connection to find your learning resources are enough to do this well. You will soon find yourself being part of a global community of people helping each other to grow and learn. Free educational resources and advice can be found abundantly.

This new century gives great opportunities to young people in developing countries, too. They often feel a big sense of urgency to invest in their future and to get themselves organized for continuous learning.

It is very funny to hear people in Europe and the US talk about them in 20th century connotations, thinking that they need people from the developed world to bring them their old content. No sir, their smartphones access the same world wide web as yours.

Ghanaian economist and author George Ayittey has good reasons to call young Africans the cheetah generation and I know from first hand experience how great it is to be part of such a community. You are invited.