The majority of teaching in this world is still very much based on the same principles as the beginning of last century: One teacher in the front of the classroom telling kids what they need to do/ learn (often by rote): mind numbing, repetitive and dull. This form of assembly line teaching is inefficient, and has not kept up with technology and theory. What is worse, it wastes the talents of so many promising kids. Sir Ken Robinson in this TED talk1, gives a great account what is wrong with ‘modern’ day teaching. Kids are not little machines with preconditioned responses. They are individuals and should be taught in a way tuned to their needs, their forms of intelligence, and their developing minds. Howard Gardner2,3 has implied as much in his books on the various forms of intelligence.
Fortunately some change can be seen in curricula such as the IPC4, and the PYP5, and also in the training of new teachers. And kids, parents and teachers are enthusiastic about the positive changes they see. But it is not enough. These positive developments are at the primary level. When these kids come to the secondary it is often back to the old grind. A lot of potential that was developed in their primary years, is lost.
What we need, is a revolution in education: Education 3.0. The bulk of teaching, or as I’d rather say, enabling learning to take place, should be done on an individual basis. One teacher with one student, or may be two. Of course there should be social interactions and working in groups but that can be organised during physical education, drama, and music lessons. What we also should leave behind is the rigid structure of physical age tied to school years. Kids undergo differential development but schools force them to be either behind, or far in front. That can lead to boredom, recalcitrance or other forms of socially unacceptable behaviour. Why not allow a kid to be in French1, Math3 and English2? Why not allow them to sit their exams for one subject and still have another year to go form another.
With the help of virtual learning environments, modern communication methods, and other forms of blended learning it should be possible to have more individual teaching combined with a limited number of group sessions. It need not be more expensive than traditional teaching.
2 Howard Gardner, Five Minds for the Future
3 Howard Gardner, Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century