There has been much controversy recently over the sentiments expressed by students at the Education Nation 2011 Summit in New York. Various issues were raised which mainly focused on current teaching methods and whether they were sufficiently up-to-date to do justice to students, with particular emphasis on outmoded methods of teaching and a lack of connection between teacher and pupil.
Many of the points raised by the students were perhaps unrealistic – for example that teachers should also be trained counsellors - but a few of their concerns were not new and have been ‘under discussion’ for many years – for example questioning whether exams actually test was has been learnt and whether the tests themselves are current and relevant to the world as it is today.
Advances in technology have meant that students can access information in a very appealing format from the Internet – You Tube videos showing how things are done for example – leaving the standard classroom/lecture theatre lacking in any sort of appeal. The students involved in this Summit felt that teachers who used technology in their teaching made the lessons much more interesting. Research has proved that young people are more interested and motivated to learn if lessons are relevant and current. Teachers who have kept up with recent advances in technology will most likely benefit from inspired students and, in turn, better exam results.
Other points of concern included students feeling that their teachers had lost sight of the fact that they are meant to help each pupil reach his/her full potential so that they can go on to follow their dreams. They pointed out that, if teachers would only tell them something good that they were doing, it would encourage them to progress. Positive reinforcement is essential in good teaching practice and often disenchanted teachers lose sight of this fact.
Refresher courses to enable teachers to re-connect with their students – particularly in the field of IT – would be beneficial, but how many teachers would take up that challenge and how many would continue to hide their heads in the sand, reluctant to take the leap into the fast moving, scary world of technology?
Ideally government funded re-training, with specific emphasis on using IT in the classroom could become part of an on-going project to re-inspire the nation’s children which, in turn, could produce a better level of education for all.
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