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2.2 Why Innovative Teaching for 21CC?

Innovation marches inexorably to an unimaginable future. Industry clamours for innovation, yet consumers can neither respond adequately to the changes it produces nor meet the learning demands it creates. Modern schools have been organized and curricula designed to meet society’s needs following the Industrial Revolution, yet for all the emphasis on 21st century competencies (21CC), how is it possible for schools to keep up with the impossible burden of the “cultural abundance” they propose to transmit (Martin, 1996, p. 40)? The exponential advance of technological innovation surpasses any rate of change ever previously witnessed in history and revolutionizes the way we communicate, do business, and learn (Oke & Fernandes, 2020). Can schools continue to exist to transmit the great ideas of history and also adequately prepare students for a future we can’t predict? Researchers forecast a disconnect between the education sector and global industry, especially considering the rapid advances in technology and access to artificial intelligence (Oke & Fernandes, 2020). We’re already seeing AI attached to familiar apps and wreaking havoc with academic honesty, not to mention the negative impacts on creativity as people opt to augment their writing. Most youth know how to locate amusements and entertainment online, but do they know how to authentically produce such content?

Soft Skills and a Hard Realization

Influential education reformers like Sir Ken Robinson have called for an overhaul of the entire education system, a rethinking of its purposes and activities. Working creatively with the tools and resources available to us, teachers are strongly urged to adopt a more learner-centered approach in anticipation of the job marketplace our students will face. We may need to reframe our thinking about our role as teachers and what our professional development should include. We need to recognize how innovations in technology “may limit the possibility of [youth] acquiring and developing relevant soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal skills” (Oke & Fernandes, 2020, p. 2).

These “soft skills” carry a large degree of overlap with set of transferable skills generally called 21st Century Skills, which in turn, sound a lot like BC’s Core Competencies. We should be careful not to reduce all advances to the technology boom, but to consider what skills will actually be valuable in a constantly changing world. Is it enough to point out that the Core Competencies are “embedded within the Curricular Competencies” (video 2 Facets, Profiles and Connections, 2:58)? I think not. The education sector would do well to invest in helping teachers understand just how valuable these skills are to the overall well-being and cognitive development of children. Here is a short video to kickstart your self-reflection.

References and Resources

Alberta Regional Consortium, (n. D.) 21st Century Skills in an inclusive environment, retrieved July 18 from

BC’s Curriculum, Core Competencies Resources, retrieved July 18 from

Dominoes photo by Tom Wilson on Unsplash, retrieved July 19

Martin, J. R. (1996). There’s too much to teach: Cultural wealth in an age of scarcity. Educational Researcher, 25(2), 4–16.

Oke, A., & Fernandes, F. A. P. (2020). Innovations in teaching and learning: Exploring the perceptions of the education sector on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Journal of Open Innovation, 6(2), 31–.

Robinson, K. (n.d.). Do schools kill creativity? [Video]. TED Talks.


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