Progressive Changes in the 21st Century Education

The Indian education system is undergoing a metamorphosis with the gradual implementation of the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Education has become synonymous with the words ‘21stcentury skills. These are the skills required by an individual to be capable in facing the challenges and becoming successful in today’s fast-changing world. Some of these include being globally active, transforming digitally, progressing creatively, advancing ahead collaboratively, communicating effectively, solving problems innovatively, and adapting to changes.


To cater to the ever-evolving skills in education, the space of curriculum is widening due to the inclusion of contemporary subjects like Design thinking, Artificial intelligence, Holistic Health, etc., alongside new models of learning, like STREAM.

Design Thinking is a learning approach which fosters innovation, creativity, and solution-based problem-solving aptitude in students.

    • A non-linear process that requires iteration.

    • Active in nature and involving highly collaborative activities and strategies both inside and outside the classroom.

    • Versatile, being equally efficacious on all scales including projects, programs, activities, and courses.

The steps involved in Design Thinking are:

    • Understanding – In this first phase, students focus on learning to develop background knowledge through their interaction with mentors and experts, and through their own research.

    • Observation – In this phase, students keenly observe the interactions and behaviors of people along with places and physical spaces. It involves their interactions with others, and their being inquisitive and reflective.

    • Developing Insights – In this phase, students are engaged in developing and defining their points of view by becoming aware of others’ needs and gaining insights. They also come up with suggestions regarding changes that can affect others’ experiences.

    • Ideating – It is a very important phase that involves subjecting the students to brainstorming sessions to generate a multitude of ideas without being judgmental. Important components are creativity and fun. Quantity is given preference over quality which leads to students becoming divergent and wishful thinkers, and dreamers of the possible and the impossible.

    • Prototyping – It involves expressing an idea swiftly in the form of a sketch or a model. In the process of creating prototypes, students realize that it is better to be a failure often in the early phases. They are motivated to be experimental and be reflective.

    • Testing – Feedback is given to the students in this phase, which aids in their knowledge of distinguishing between what works for their users and what doesn’t. This leads to iteration, which is a significant part in design thinking.

Thus, it can be seen that ‘design thinking’ benefits students in various ways such as:

    • It makes students flexible, adaptable to the rapidly changing world, and able to effectively face new challenges.

    • It helps students to become divergent and reflective thinkers.

    • Students develop confidence, creativity, empathy, critical thinking, and optimism, enabling them to become responsible members of society, capable of solving any complex problems encountered in life.

    • It encourages students to learn from the mistakes they make instead of giving up.

    • It provides a proven process to students for effective and meaningful application of their skills and knowledge, thereby enhancing their learning.

STREAM (Science, Technology, Writing, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Education:

The STEM Education movement started in the early 2000s, integrating the curriculums across the four disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics with the goal of scientific and technical literacy for students to be prepared for the future high-tech jobs. Shortly, the need to integrate and include Arts to STEM programs was felt and STEM changed to STEAM.

With the changing scenario in the education field, the critical importance of ‘Reading’ was felt and realised as an important component to enhance 21stcentury skills and jobs. To compete and excel in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, a student is required to have the basic ability to read, comprehend, and write. Reading and writing skills are the important components of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity (21st century skills), needed to be successful in education and all other fields. The addition of Reading and writing to the STEAM model has enhanced its multi-disciplinary approach, which acts as an encouraging agent to cross-curricular teaching-learning process. This has led to the transformation of STEM to STEAM and, finally, to STREAM.

STREAM curriculum is the holistic package of modern curriculum that enables students to develop the fundamental skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, innovation, and technology, required to succeed in the dynamic world of the 21stcentury. It involves human aspects along with technical skills. Without underestimating the importance of scientific skills and learning, adding the human elements of feelings and emotions in them, makes the scientific logic meaningful. Thus, the popularity of the STREAM learning is gaining momentum and is based on valid reasons.

Educationists are hopeful that the inclusion of contemporary subjects and models like ‘design thinking’ and STREAM will impact the world of 21st century education, paving the way for the students to become scientific creative professionals and leaders of the progressive society.

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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