This project has emerged out of a shared vision of a pragmatic approach to the development of the basic and transversal skills associated with 21st Century Learning (21CL), in response to changes in society and the world of work. Our rationale is echoed in the OECD/PISA documentation that measures students’ abilities to apply “their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society”. The PISA report (2012) highlights the need for prioritisation of opportunities for students to develop the habits and reasoning skills that will permit them to become effective problem-solvers and self-directed learners. However, within the context of existing European research, such as the PRIMAS and MASCIL projects, a number of issues have emerged regarding the implementation of inquiry-based 21CL in the classroom. Despite varying levels of implementation in Europe, the fundamental problems with implementation remain the same. We see a collaborative approach to the development of an integrated 21CL model of classroom practice and CPD as a compelling strategy to address these issues; European cooperation for the exchange of educational best practice is seen as fundamental in this regard.
The aim of the TfT (Teaching for Tomorrow) project is to develop and refine an existing model of teaching and learning (Bridge21) that has been tested in Ireland and has shown to offer a promising structure for the successful implementation of 21CL in the classroom, as well as for teacher CPD. Through an iterative series of European workshops the TfT model will be implemented, tested and refined, ultimately leading to the development of a practical and efficient model. Throughout the process, transnational communities of practice will develop to support teachers’ use of the model in their own contexts.
In order to achieve the aims of the project, a group of professional teachers, administrators and researchers will come together from four European countries in order to combine their knowledge, experience and best-practice. Four practising teachers from each country will participate in the iterative approach to the development of the model, associated activities and communities of practice. The other project partners include the Bridge21 project administrator, a TCD research team, two principal teachers, a regional educational administrator, and the head of department in a school. These participants are well positioned to combine their strengths in order to achieve the desired outcomes of the project. Together they will create and run workshops in each partner country, which will address particular areas of difficulty that have been highlighted through research and combined experience. The resources developed in these workshops will detail best practice in each of the areas of focus.
It is foreseen that through participation in the project, the primary cohort of teachers will develop the confidence and motivation to consistently integrate innovate teaching methods into their practice. In addition, they will benefit from the creation of communities of practice both within their institution and at a transnational level. The ripple effect of these results will impact on the students directly associated with these teachers who will develop basic skills in an innovative environment, as well as transversal skills associated with 21CL. In addition, staff and teachers not directly associated with the project will benefit through the development of communities of practice within their institutions and beyond, encouraging a culture of collaborative and supportive CPD. Our belief is that the impact of this project could have a long-term, influence on international teaching, as well as on academic and policymaking communities. The desired impacts particularly address Improving Competences for the 21st Century, European Commission (2008). In particular, the pragmatic and integrated TfT approach to 21CL and CPD addresses: lifelong learning, linking theory and practice in teacher training and the seamless inclusion of technology in education.