Tony Gurr

Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher…the SEQUEL!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Technology on 19/09/2011 at 8:59 am

It’s funny…as soon as we mention phrases like the 21st Century Teacher, people immediately assume we are about to launch into a diatribe about the wonders of allthingstechnology!

Yes, it’s truetechnology is everywhere, it is getting easier to use and it can help us learn more – faster than ever before. However, and as we all know… learning (and teaching) is not about the hardware, the software, or the webware…it’s the “headware”, dummy!

It’s also the “heartware” – and how much we focus on “what matters”!


I think this is perhaps why I tend to put so much emphasis on how literate a teacher is with LEARNing – but also how much of that “learnacy” is related to what are known as 21st Century Fluencies:

Many of these ideas were developed to discuss the type of learning we educators need to be co-creating with our primary and secondary learners – but surely we also need to be able to role model these, if that learning is to occur.

The guys at the 21st Century Fluency Project remind us that the students our schools need to be “producing” should:

  • think creatively to solve problems in real time
  • unconsciously and intuitively interpret information in all forms and formats
  • work cooperatively with virtual and real partners
  • use design, art and storytelling to come up with creative solutions
  • look analytically (and critically) at any communication media to interpret (and evaluate) the real message and create and publish original (and effective) digital messages and products

This last one clearly shows the importance of Critical Literacy – for both teachers and students. Indeed, a man far smarter than I asked:

Is it enough to help children and adults to achieve literacy if this simply means they read only sufficiently well to be seduced by advertisers and tabloid newspapers? (Brian Cox, 1998)

What is interesting, however, is when we take a closer look at the elements that make up Critical Literacy – and notice the degree of overlap with the 21st Century Fluencies:

Whoever said that teaching was “easy” needs a kick up the rear!


Obviously, the above ideas are closely linked under the umbrella of “digital citizenship” – but as we noted technology does not an effective learner or teacher make…it can help if used wisely!

What is important is that today’s teachers talk the same language as their learnersLEARNing as a First Language (LFL) – in addition to applying Critical Literacy to all they do.


However, Educational Literacy does not stop there:

A little earlier I mentioned “heartware” – the emotional side of Educational Literacy.

We all know, from experience, that:

Adults neither!


But…if most of us were asked (during an interview for a new teaching post) – “How Emotionally Literate are you”? – we’d probably get all flummoxed!

Emotional Literacy is at the heart of what we do in education – and “great” (or even “effective”) teachers know the power of:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management 


  • Empathy

Effective teachers know that they are leaders and that:

  • When we feel “good”, we perform better – at everything we do!
  • Everyone watches the “boss”!
  • Leaders set the “standards” of any group!

More importantly, they know that:

  • All communication, all relationships and all learning works, and has always worked, through emotions!

OK…where were we?

  • Critical Literacy – CHECK!
  • Learning Literacy – CHECK!
  • Emotional Literacy – CHECK!

Tonyhave you not missed a few? In fact, should you not have “started” with the THREE you have missed out?

…I feel a PREQUEL coming on!

  1. I was sent this interesting link – lots of info on Emotional Literacy:


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