Can teachers change the face of education?
‘The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in lace of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.‘
Do you happen to know who said this and when? Funny, I have been listening to teachers complaining about the (mis)behaviour of their learners constantly, and I always think about this quote, which is attributed to Socrates by Plato. A long time ago, huh?!
When we look at any teaching/learning situation, you always end up with two unavoidable elements in the equation: you always need teachers and learners. And teachers and learners should get along. Teachers should try to instigate in their learners the will to learn, and learners should understand their teachers are not there to pour their knowledge through talk and chalk while they listen passively. Fortunately, the age of education for the industry, in which students were not to say a word and simply accept all they were being told as the truth, is doomed. Or is it?
Even though more and more educators are aware of the fact that it is their job to prepare their learners for the future, to empower them, to foster autonomous learning, we still live in an the industrial age in most parts of the world when it comes to education. When are schools going to start changing their way of thinking and assessing students learning? When is schooling going to give way to education? Few of us are like Mark Twain, after all. We need our schools to try to prepare learners to face the future challenges the world will impose on them. Are we doing that? Some food for thought is what sir Ken Robinson shared in his wonderful talk at TED. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching it till the end.
The sad thing is realising that what he said about education being the same all over the world seems to be true from what I hear, read, and see. Of course there are exceptions, but they’re still too few. Most students, when becoming teachers, tend to repeat what their teachers did to them. If this isn’t what happens where you live, then you can consider yourself lucky. Teachers are, more often than not, unprepared to walk into a classroom, and by doing so we’re simply letting brilliant students abandoned to chance, never being able to live to their full potential.
But I have hope this is going to change someday. I’ve met wonderful educators online these days, and the fact that we can all connect, share ideas, discuss and learn from one another is encouraging. More and more I see educators concerned about their students’ learning. Educators concerned about their learners’ future. Teachers trying to guide learners in the journey of learning. These teachers should be glad they have found a way to get together. I know I am. Despite all different opinions voiced, I believe everything that is said should be heard and taken into consideration. Only by being willing to learn are we going to be able to teach our students.
Nowadays, it is believed that one should take learning into one’s own hands. Teachers are there to support, to help, to encourage, but not to simply transmit knowledge. Hopefully, schools will realise we not preparing children for the industrial age any more and changes will be made. Learners will become more and more autonomous. They will learn how to look for information instead of sitting passively waiting for someone to tell them what they want to know. I only hope this change happens sooner than later.
Well, I started this post with a quote, and I’m going to end it with one. Do you agree with it?
“What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”
–George Bernard Shaw