Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Not doing it the old fashioned way

As I sat in the dentists recently, (a place I really do not like), I was reminded of comments I heard from Prof. Stephen Heppell, comparing dentists to education.

We would not dream of expecting to be treated in exactly the same way by dentists as they did decades ago - whilst basic concepts remain, skills technology and experience have moved on (and so have prices!!).

Education is no different - research, skills, knowledge, expectations, aspirations have all developed and continue to do so at increasing speed. We know so much more about teaching and ways of relating to our young learners.

I am, therefore, disappointed and concerned when I hear teachers saying that they just wish to carry on teaching exactly the way they were trained, in one particular case, twenty five years ago. Another teacher has noted in the past "there is nothing anyone can tell me about my teaching!" Ummm - a bold claim I fear (and not one that I could say)!.

What does encourage me is that there are now so many people working to develop new skills, embrace new technologies and ensure learning is relevant, responds to the needs of learners and allows them to really use their skills in meaningful ways.

It is a long journey, we have to undertake it. We accept the concepts of education, we want students to be literate, numerate and so on. However, the challenge is often to ensure that learning takes place in an integrated way with authority / school vision and developing appropriate curriculum and assessment methodology with students, staff, parents, community, businesses all part of the learning environment.

We cannot go back in time. Why would we ? The world is moving too fast, expectations, technology, skills and experiences are looking forward. I certainly wouldn't want the dentists to go back in time and use old techniques - why should our students?

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