At Rowntree, we have taken a forward-thinking, yet balanced, approach to the implementation of 21st Century teaching and learning. The teaching of coding, the embedding of a STEM mindset and using Chromebooks as an educational tool are all certainly front and centre, but so too are inter and intrapersonal skills, such as citizenship and character, which have also been deemed essential for today’s learners. As our students’ world has become increasingly influenced by technology and social media, it has become necessary to teach them Digital Citizenship in order to help them navigate their complex electronic environment. However, “non-digital” citizenship is just as prominent, and at least as important, in our day-to-day programming. If our students are ultimately to become global citizens of both their digital and real worlds, they should first have a sense of what it means to be citizens of their school and local communities. Through our character and leadership programs, our involvement with the WE organization, and through contributions to various charities, our Rowntree student-citizens learn what it means to be engaged members of something beyond just themselves, their families or their classrooms.
When we encourage our students to get involved in activities such as the Santa Claus parade or help decorate a tree to overflowing with donated mittens, we are instilling within them a sense of belongingness and pride in their community. It is our hope that this impulse will one day be transferable to a broader context, and that the character and citizenship lessons that they have learned at Rowntree will have a positive impact on their lives and on the world. The academic skills, both modern and traditional, that are taught and learned in our classrooms will certainly help to shape our students’ future successes. However, we cannot neglect to incorporate invaluable “soft skills” into the Rowntree student experience.