Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Challenge of Change Management: Teachers As Agents of Change-Part II


Teachers in today's school systems around the world do magnificent things with students everyday and they do these things under the constant scrutiny of the public, politicians and newspaper columnists and still are criticized for not doing enough or not performing to the standards set forth by governments. Part of the problem is that teachers labour under a system and model of education that is deeply flawed. The public sees the great changes that are taking place in all areas of human endeavour which are becoming saturated with technology and then look at the school system and wonder if their students will be sufficiently prepared for a future that is so unlike the past and the present. Cynicism brings many back to questions such as: Is there something wrong with our teachers? Is there something wrong with the curriculum?
The students who are deeply into the technologies that they have access to in the outside world and which are intimate parts of their everyday life then look at school and ask what does this have to do with my personal world. They are becoming more and more disconnected and disinterested in their education. Who is at fault?

The teachers and the students are NOT at fault. The fault lies with the vision of education which is becoming more and more at odds with the transition from a post information world to a world built on a culture of innovation and advancement. Crucial to this is the changing role of the teacher. Consider the following points:
  1. Under the old model, the teacher was considered the ultimate source of information for students. Now students have access to more information through the Internet than a teacher could possibly teach them in several life-times. The old way of testing by the simple repeating of information that the teacher taught is not a reasonable approach whether it is in a brick and mortar school or an online school. Cutting and pasting information from the Internet in response to an assignment requires very little engagement with the subject area. In other words, its a no brainer!
  2. Under a new model where the teacher is a change agent, the goal is to establish "thoughtful engagement" with the subject matter. The emphasis stresses the higher levels of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy where it is not what you know that is as important as what you can do with what you know when confronted by a real world problem or issue. The teacher's new role is to guide students in the art of how to learn to deal with the overwhelming information that is available, even in a given discipline alone.
  3. Under the old model, knowledge was compartmentalized into subject areas. Under a new model, perhaps it is time to integrate subjects much in the same way as the S.T.E.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum attempts to do. Why? It recognizes that when we attempt to solve issues or problems, we in fact use skills that cross subject areas.
  4. Under a new model which involves the integration of subjects that have complementary skill sets, the implication for assessment strategies are fascinating. Instead of administering a test or exam in each individual subject, we can have integrated tests that replicate problem solving that is more realistic.
In the next post, I will suggest that students themselves can contribute in real and relevant ways as change agents in our society...

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