Setting Students Up for Success in a 21st-Century World

Posted by Michelle Dickinson on 11/10/17 09:30

Times are changing. You may, however, be unsure how to respond to these changing times in the way that best respects your child’s needs and sets them up for future success.

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Here at One World International School, this is a question we’ve spent many hours pondering on. After all, if we can’t ensure our students get a top-notch education that is valuable not only now but in the future, then we can’t aspire to be one of the best international schools in Singapore.

Accordingly, we’ve made every effort to bring our curriculum into the 21st century, which is no small task. The digital era demands that students be conversant with technology, but not reliant on it to do their thinking. They must recall facts, but think creatively, analytically and evaluative on their own as well. They need to respect all viewpoints, while maintaining a healthy skepticism that enables them to parse truth from falsity, and move forward with clear vision. They must at some point move on to a successful career, yet retain an educational mindset for life.

How can we raise students who are able to do all of this? At OWIS, we believe it starts with mindset.

New Century, New Values

In his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, visionary thinker Daniel Pink argues convincingly that the top professions of former generations no longer command the same pre-eminence they once did. While accounting, law and medicine still make for excellent careers, the true leaders of the 21st century will be storytellers, designers, innovators and teachers. People who understand what it means to create something out of nothing, who can take the seeds of an idea and weave it into something masterful. Those are the people to whom we will look up to, in coming generations.

The applications to education are obvious. Gone are the days where it was enough to teach the water cycle and assume students will be able to apply the knowledge in their own lives. Instead, we must give them the tools to probe this knowledge with real-world applications.

What happens when a hurricane floods the water table? Why are deserts so dry? How can we re-direct runoff during a flash flood? Students who encounter real-world scenarios that demand creative solutions are better prepared to innovate in the future.

The STEAM Revolution

This is the basis for the STEAM Revolution. The acronym STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. While art is an addition with which not all educators agree, we wholeheartedly believe at OWIS that students should have ready access to all tools of innovation.

Whether or not you concur with the importance of art, we’re doubtless that you recognize the importance of giving students the tools needed to become innovators in later life. Science is a crucial means for gaining knowledge about our world; engineering is the path to solving problems and creating technology; mathematics is the language used to talk about both. Students who are conversant with these subjects are bound to be more successful in life, no matter which careers they end up choosing.

This is a crucial point. An innovative mindset is necessary across all industries, because it enables students to think critically, flexibly and innovatively, improving the world regardless of their fields. And, our students cannot become true innovators without the right mindset at school.

Future Proofing Education: A Cultural Mindset at OWIS

There is no way to ensure the success of our student population without ensuring that each of its teachers and administrators is held to the expectation of respecting this forward-thinking, student-centered and innovative mindset.

At OWIS, we believe strongly in the idea of teaching for the future, not just teaching facts, but teaching students how to learn. If they do not learn how to learn, they will not be able to engage in the cutting-edge exploration in which scientists, engineers and mathematicians necessarily engage on a day-to-day basis.

We support our teachers with rigorous training and appropriate resources. We allow students the freedom to explore on their own, while at the same time stepping in to keep them on track or adjust the frameworks we’ve built around their learning. We set our expectations in the very youngest years, so that students know they are allowed (and expected) to be creative, to innovate, to think outside the box.

Only by giving our students the freedom to truly investigate their world on their own terms can we feel secure that they will continue to learn long after they leave our doors. They will voluntarily adopt the roles of innovators, setting them up for success in higher education and career. And they will maintain those skills throughout their lives, bolstering our future for decades to come.


If you’d like to discover more about how OWIS can bring these values to your child’s life, we invite you to get in touch with us.

Topics: theOWISdifference, Primary School


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