Realizing Future-Ready Education in the Americas, the only Spanish session, brought together leaders from Latin America to discuss the competencies and values that students need to prepare for future success. Panelists highlighted the importance of teaching competencies and values, putting students at the center of learning, and redefining teachers' role as mentors and designers of learning in the classroom.
Building Values and Competencies
A crucial role of teachers is to guide students in developing values, panelists said. Two central values of inclusivity and sustainability work together, and as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, they continue to grow in importance.
Speakers discussed universal values in the development of an equal and just society. They emphasized the need for inclusion and acceptance of diversity, which they said are fundamental pillars of fair societies. Increased inclusivity also builds sustainability as people recognize the importance of working together and building a future in which all people have the opportunity to thrive. Renato Opertti, a Senior Programme Specialist at the International Bureau of Education (IBE)-UNESCO, appealed for greater acceptance and empathy while understanding that we are all a part of one ecosystem and one universe.
Presenters also talked about the competencies students need to succeed. Children must develop the knowledge, attitude, and skills to respond to challenges they face. Additionally, modern education should be designed to build students' digital and environmental literacy. Emerging technologies and environmental sustainability are growing issues that students will face in the future.
Speakers agreed that the best way to prepare students for the future is to build education around them. Teachers adapt learning methods to the strengths of the child. The panel recognized that individual students have strengths in different types of intelligence, including interpersonal, intrapersonal, artistic, emotional, linguistic, and arithmetic. These are cataloged in Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner classified the eight types of intelligence, including visual-spatial, linguistic-verbal, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and naturalistic.
Through understanding these different types of intelligence and their relative strengths and weaknesses, education can be built around the student. While students need to understand core subjects, student-centered education enables children to thrive. As Dr. Denis Rose, a neuropsychologist and educator, said, "We must create expert learners who learn very well, but each one in his way."
For teachers to accomplish student-centered education while teaching inclusivity and sustainability, they must develop their agency in teaching. Effectively, successful teachers do not take a one-size-fits-all approach but adapt to their student's learning styles and strengths. This flexibility helps them be more successful in meeting the needs of their students.
As teachers work towards these goals, they are challenged to be continuous learners. Some panelists noted that most teachers are not "digital natives"; they are less familiar with technology than their students but must adapt to prepare them for a technological future. Reliance on technology was demonstrated during the pandemic when school transformed from classroom-based learning to remote learning. The pandemic also highlighted deficiencies in the current education systems.
As education moves forward to prepare students for the twenty-first century, teachers are encouraged to put the child at the center of learning. They are also encouraged to identify their strengths and weaknesses to develop further their students' values and competencies in preparation for an inclusive and sustainable future.
Dr. Carolina Pizarro Flores, a Chilean teacher, specializing in intellectual disabilities, closed the session, observing, "Inclusive education is not a concept but a way of living, thinking of everyone and that no one is excluded."
Moderator: Martin Perez, Director, Communications, Global Peace Foundation Paraguay
- Renato Opertti, Senior Programme Specialist, International Bureau of Education (IBE)-UNESCO
- Dr. Solvey Benítez, Director, SB Consultora; Founder, Paraguayan Society of Canada
- Dr. Carolina Pizarro Flores, Differential teacher with specialization in intellectual disability, University Academy of Christian Humanism, Chile
- Celeste Mosqueda Meza, Vice-Rector, Hispano-Guaraní University for Human Development