The Changing Learning Path
Greetings from The Progressive Teacher.
Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life being born. The term is also used as a metaphor for the start of better times. The spring season is full of transformation. Apart from the transformation in weather that occurs in the spring season, our lives are transformed, too. With the arrival of the spring season also comes the sense of joy and anticipation that is shared by people all over the world.
Spring represents something quite different in the school academic year–the calendar we live by for far more of our lives than I ever realized. Students in school suddenly feel the pendulum beginning its alarming acceleration towards the end of the school-year – leading to examinations and uncertainty regarding the new year. Children have an instinctive sense of anxiety as spring gets underway: change is in the air, and there is no way of knowing how things will change.
In a fast-changing, interconnected world, the learning path too, must change to prepare students for success in life. The modern global economy doesn’t pay you for what you know, because the Internet knows everything. The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know. Nations are investing to produce students who can intelligently manage and evaluate information and data. They are moving beyond asking whether students can reproduce what they learned in school. They want to know how creatively they can use what they know, and whether they can extrapolate from it and apply their knowledge in another context. Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and collaboration are at an increasing premium.
Modern learning can no longer be about a one-size-fits-all system but about personalizing learning approaches. This requires a very different learning environment, a very different kind of work organization, and a very different calibre of teachers. It is critically important to attract good teachers, support and encourage their professionalism, continue to invest in them, and align assessment and rewards to support innovation in teaching.
For school systems, the benchmark for success is no longer to be better than you were last year, but to measure up against the best performing systems in the world. The potential rewards are tremendous. In the past, if you had low levels of skills, you could get a decent job with a decent wage. Today, that’s no longer possible. You end up in a race to the bottom. The cost of low education performance is very high, and the consequences of inequalities in educational outcomes are dramatically widening.
The need is to prepare all learners to be life-long, creative, connected and collaborative problem solvers and to be happy individuals by Changing the Learning Path. Schools are complex systems. To make sustainable progress, we have to change the processes that happen in the classroom every day. It means focusing on student learning and making changes across the educational system. It takes modern policies and strong leadership at every level to bring stakeholders together and develop a strategic plan that is both visionary and practical. It requires empowering teachers through ongoing professional development to work with new resources, approaches and content and change what happens in the classroom. It’s hard work. There is no silver bullet. But this is a perfect time to be making these changes.
I hope you will enjoy this issue of The Progressive Teacher and find the various perspectives offered by a number of practitioners in the context of the Changing Learning Path worthwhile. The Progressive Teacher invites you to share with others the changes you have brought about in your classrooms in the changing times.
The theme of the May/June issue of The Progressive Teacher will be ‘Summer Slide’, that is summer loss or summer setback or the tendency of students to lose some achievement gains they made in the previous school year. I invite you to send your views on this theme for publication in the next issue.
With best wishes
Rita Wilson has over 40 years of rich experience as educationist including over 30 years of experience in school leadership positions. She is the former Chief Executive and Secretary Council for the ICSE, New Delhi.
She is a consultant to a number of corporate houses and educational institutions. She is serving as a Member of the Board of Governors/Managing Committees of some of the most prestigious schools and colleges of the country.
She has vast exposure to the education systems of Japan, Germany, England, Thailand, Singapore, Sharjah, Dubai and Finland. She has initiated, conducted and organised workshops for school teachers and principals all over India
With a B.A. (Hons) English Literature, M.A., M.Phil. (English Literature), B.Ed. to her credit, she has edited three series of English readers and work-books for school children.