Time to rethink our approach to education?

Earlier this week I was working as an interpreter at a conference about new approaches to education which was being held at my school. The main theme of the conference was the development of critical thinking skills in our students, shifting the focus of the class from simply acquiring knowledge to learning how to process the vast quantity of knowledge which our students are exposed to today. This shift requires us as teachers to move away from the idea that we are the primary knowedge bearer in the classroom, and although this may seem difficult for many of us, in reality it frees us up to work on higher level thinking skills as our students learn to process, filter and apply the information which they acquire outside the classroom.

It also gives us the opportunity to  focus on developing the social skills our students will need in their future professional lives. The fact is that with the ever increasing pace of change today, the best way to prepare our students for their futures is not by giving them specific knowledge, since many will probably work in professions which have not yet been developed. Faced with change, it is better to equip our students with the skills they need to be adaptable enough to take full advantage of what the future has in store for them. This is the chalenge for educators in the 21st Century.

As part of the conference, we were shown a version of this extremely thought-provoking video, which I decided I would share here.

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9 thoughts on “Time to rethink our approach to education?

    • Hi Mura,

      Thanks for sharing the @tornhalves article – I found it very interesting. The question of how we define knowledge is an interesting one. I think that traditionally knowledge has been seen more as ‘knowing bits of information’, particularly here in Spain where the curriculum has been heavily reliant on the reproduction of information provided by the teacher, who acts as keeper of knowledge. The main thrust of the course I was attending was that we need to shift from this definition to one of ‘knowing how’, where we evaluate more how our students are processing information and making it meaningful than simply how accurately students can reproduce information which we as teachers have previously given them. This shift should not be taken to mean that ‘knowing bits of information’ is no longer valid; our students must have access to information in order to learn how to manipulate / filter it, and there must always be some things which we must just know if we are to be minimally civilised. However, it does mean that we cannot continue to regard teachers as ‘keepers of knowledge’, and our role must change to that of guide in the discovery of knowledge and in the processing of information. Our questions should be less about the empty display of knowledge / knowing of things the teacher already knows, and more concerned with engaging higher-order thinking skills, where the teacher may not know the answer, but which scaffold the student’s learning far more effectively.

  1. Thought provoking indeed but techonology has been managed up to now by the non digital native generations , the ones who had acquired some traits like creativity or social skills. What will the outcome be when technology comes in the hands of the young who have been immersed in it from the very early years and may be evolving into a completely new species altogether. Where will the limits be drawn then. ? And yes among other things where will education be standing. It would be good if we had a second video with possible answers to the questions posed.

    • You make a very good point, Zafi. But I think a lot of what is mentioned in the video is the result of ‘digital natives’ taking control of the technology which up to now has been controlled by ‘digital immigrants’. This would account for the exponential increase in the pace of change experienced in the last few years.
      As far as possible answers are concerned, the point is that we don’t have any concrete answers. We are rushing headlong into the future with only our wits and the flexibility we have developed to help us. One of the conclusions of the course I was working in was that it is becoming ever more important to develop creative thinking skills in our students, such that they can take what they have around them and what they learn and create something new from it.

      • And the question David is whether technology encourages or stunts creativity and imaginative thinking. Who holds the answer to that.? I guess it all depends, but somehow I am afraid that the brain doesn’t have the time to develop its own imagery. Instead it struggles to shelve all the information it receives, sometimes with little effect. That is why I would like to see a PAUSE to the process. A temporay PAUSE. The frantic pace may drown us.
        People go to sleep to rest and organise their internal mechanism. When does technology get a chance to reflect? Obviously the fervents supporters of technology should pause their strides and take careful steps, In this way we only receive the one side of the double edged sword that technology is.

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