I am an educator. And I know education is going through challenging times.
Though living in the same milieu, today’s educator and today’s learner are like the two faced Roman God of transition, Janus. The student looks outward, beckoning to the future whereas most teachers look backwards, reminiscing the past. The text savvy digital citizen is given learning experiences by the bookish adult who uses the textbook as the prop and actually gets spaces out when it comes to tech tools and digital devices. So, the earlier our educator colleagues adapt to the changing scenario the better for us, lest we get fossilized.
During our student days you and I depended entirely on our teachers for information – they were in fact our primary and many a time our only source of knowledge. Today’s children on the other hand have technology devices, the World Wide Web and a host of other digital sources for their primary information. To them, we, educators are only the secondary source.
We were taught to focus on subjects when we were children and even in our very much outdated B.Ed. training courses. So we continue to lecture and use the hanging-all-children-on-one-academic-clothesline method of chalk and talk. We seem to be “stuck in a fixed body of knowledge and pass it on via drip feed” 1 – ouch!!! We do integrate ICT into our lesson (a PPT or You tube video at the most); yet, we are much more comfortable doing what we are past masters at – teaching lessons or more fondly “portions”. The word, “portion”, itself conjures in my mind the picture of morsels of food being thrust forcefully down throats of students! Besides, our Indian educational system is so very skeptical and conservative about using digital devices smart phones, I-pads and tablets in our classrooms.
I look at my 12 year old nephew. He is truly a 21st century learner. Give him a new digital device and he is all engrossed in learning how to use it. You and I need a manual. But not him! He explores and through cycles of trial and error learns. Soon he is thorough with all the functions of the device. Take him through a traditional lesson, he is stiff bored. His mind would have wandered in 5 minutes to a hundred different things – imagine how much of this would happen in a 40 minute session! It is these kinds of children whom we subject to the torture of depending on text books and hardly ever provide any hands on experience. We subject them to our boring drones and expect them to listen.
We need to seriously relook at our classroom transactions and see if we are actually helping our pupils to prepare for tomorrow.
1 Gilbert, Ian; (2010) Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google? The essential guide to the big issues for every twenty first century teacher: Routledge