Change the paradigm to let every child become the best learner

TUIVNN

20-Dec-20

Quality Education Accessible to All – Change the paradigm to let every child become the best learner they can be. There is a lot of talk and indeed action around attempting to bring a quality education to all. In my limited experience, it is quite clear that much of this activity is very good. For example, children who previously had no school or teacher suddenly have a place to learn to read write and learn what they can. However, often we see misguided attempts to provide quality education (sending old textbooks promoting old curricula) and even the use of the challenge to profit while providing neutral or negative impact on education systems.

Quality Education Accessible to All – Change the paradigm to let every child become the best learner they can be. There is a lot of talk and indeed action around attempting to bring a quality education to all. In my limited experience, it is quite clear that much of this activity is very good. For example, children who previously had no school or teacher suddenly have a place to learn to read write and learn what they can. However, often we see misguided attempts to provide quality education (sending old textbooks promoting old curricula) and even the use of the challenge to profit while providing neutral or negative impact on education systems.

whatever system or curriculum is used, the quality lies not in the structure but in the interpretation and delivery. For sure, a poor system and poor curriculum can undermine teacher and learner ability and efforts to develop quality education. Conversely, a good system or curriculum can be part of a poor quality education if teachers and learners are misguided enough in approaching it in the wrong way.

The key therefore to quality education is the approach teachers and learners take to education. This, in turn, depends fundamentally on their understanding of the point of education.

Why do we write ‘teachers and learners’? These are the two people in the classroom. Teachers and learners will define what happens at the fundamental level in class when it comes to teaching and learning. We do not use the term ‘student’ because this implies someone good at studying in the formal sense – at school, in class. We prefer to use the term learner to define those who are good at school – the student – from those who are good at learning in life – holistic learners.

There are many answers to the question ‘what is the point of school?’ However, is there an answer that helps everyone?

If the point of school became an effort to help every young person become the best holistic learner they could be by the age of fifteen or sixteen, what would happen if teachers and young people understood this? What would happen if school leaders, ministry officials and government leaders understood this? We would see a radical change in understanding of the system an affordable way to train teachers and implement a transformation that would bring about positive change in the world.

However, what is needed to help young people become the best holistic learners they can be? We need to help teachers, parents, school leaders and most importantly young people, make a paradigm shift in their thinking and in their approach to education. We need to shift away from teacher-centered, student-centered education and move towards and beyond learner-centered education to learner-development-centered approaches.

By focusing on helping young people become the best holistic learners they can be, they will naturally be good students, and not only be able to learn better but be able to make better choices about their choices and also be motivated to learn.

First we need to ask ourselves and our communities, ‘what makes a great holistic learner?’ Ask anyone. Ask teachers, and ask principals too. Ask young people and ask their parents. Ask, above all, employers, entrepreneurs and innovators. Of course, the problem with asking these people this question is that you might well find that their answer is influenced by their experience of the system they were or are subjected to – so you have to go deep, ask them to suspend preconceptions, think in general terms, think of life and what’s required in it.

A wide range of people from several countries and, with patience and a relaxed approach, most are able to recognize that communication is an important attribute to have to be able to learn well and develop as a learner. You have to listen and communicate what you know and you have to communicate to generate knowledge too. People asked, easily recognize that we have to be independent as learners but also be able to collaborate well in order to learn better and to learn from one’s mistakes – which is reflecting really if we think about it. Many will say that, to be a good learner, one needs to be open-minded and want to ask questions and know how to ask good ones at the right time – this is being a curious inquirer. They say you need to be able to think well and in different ways and that you need to have enough sleep and eat well and generally look after yourself too, which we might call ‘functional balance’. Progressives will say, you need to be a risk-taker – try things out and learn from what happens and to be more than reflective (learn from your mistakes); and more than resilient (not get defeated by your mistakes) but become anti-fragile or growth-minded and grow strong through your mistakes and misfortunes by learning from them in order to take better action.

It sometimes takes a teacher to say – ‘they have to be ready to learn and ready for learning’ – the difference being one of mindset and the other of organization – this I call being proactive.

As well as these attributes, people recognize the need for good learners to be ethical – not to rely on cheating, to help others learn well, to apply their learning in an ethical way, to stand up for those whose learning is being distorted by injustice.

Oddly, what is often missed is that young people need to be knowledgeable in order to be good learners. However, we know that we build new knowledge and make meaning of our environments by building on what we know and by questioning it.

At the heart of the successful development of learners though is caring about that development in yourself and in others. One may be as skilled or developed in the attributes as much as we could hope for but if one does not care, then full development cannot occur. Learners who care are passionate about their learning, about following things through and getting to the heart of the matter. They have a certain heart-mindedness that allows them to develop and use empathy, patience, commitment and ethics to ensure the development of themselves and others.

There are other attributes that can and should be developed. The power of focusing on the learner development is that learner attributes are as close to natural and universal as anything can be. These attributes define our humanity even though we may see them through different cultural examples, our own role models and sensibilities. Within every culture, there are attributes that are a product and part of being a wise person. These can be added to the attributes an educational programme commits to develop.

By focusing on developing holistic learners, we provide our young people with the dispositions, skills and habits they need for the future. Because we don’t know what the future holds, and because we’ve left rather a mess in the world, the best gift we can provide them is the disposition to learn how to work together and solve problems.

© 2020 Tuinewwz.com | All Rights Reserved