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Embracing experiential learning

Dynamic changes in the current education system have thrown several challenges for teachers, who must keep reinventing themselves to stay relevant.

VINOD MALHOTRA | New Delhi |

The educational landscape of the 21st century looks markedly different from yesteryears, and in recent times the advent of technology has further accentuated the differential parameters.

The current pandemic has added many other dimensions to the pedagogical imperatives, and thrown up several challenges to the teachers, and the teaching community for sustaining academic delivery with equal commitment, and for better performance and results.

The expectations of parents and indeed, of the students has seen an exponential rise, because of explosion and easy accessibility of information and knowledge that is flowing freely, on multiple digital platforms and are literally floating on cloud. Students are just a click away from information on any subject under the sun anywhere, anytime around.

The big question facing the entire teaching fraternity therefore is – are they becoming irrelevant or, do they need to reinvent themselves to take on a new role? The inexorable developments impacting the educational field therefore demand, that every teacher examines her current capabilities, looks at the demands and challenges likely to occur at her workplace, which may either be a school, or her own home, and prepares herself to take on the new role.

The new role would be the one which emphasises on transformation and presents him or her as a facilitator. In order to achieve that one needs to first change one’s own perceptions, understand the new teaching and learning environment, build a relevant paradigm, shift from a didactic pattern of teaching to the one that is experiential and promotes active learning.

The field of education and, of course, of knowledge as well, is dynamic in nature.

The digital phenomenon has also brought about a deep global perspective within the reach of everyone, and is profoundly impacting the way the learning systems are being adopted for improved performance.

The best practices being followed by one institution, anywhere in the world go viral, and are quickly picked up by others for usage.

Evidently, these are not covered by any patent or copyright issue and are available to everyone for use. All these changes, some of them most seminal in nature, have thrown several challenges for a teacher, and he or she has to stay fully abreast of them, keep reinventing, and that alone will make them relevant.

A teacher in the present context has to become a good student and remain so life long, or as long as, he or she wants to stay in this profession.

A teacher must keep learning new techniques, and seek expertise in the following areas among others – new pedagogical practices; understanding the dynamics of class management; creating structured lesson plans on a digital format; proficiency in more than one language; understanding the contours of development psychology; using innovative tools for education; essentials of project-based learning; strong communication skills; empathy; essential 21st century skills; learning methodologies; art of listening and questioning and having an idea of the basic concepts of problem solving, including parameters of design thinking.

The list and the verticals enumerated above are illustrative in nature, and every imaginative teacher will have the freedom to add or drop any of these, depending upon the character and the composition of her class. It is also equally important that the institution that is charged with the responsibility of training the teachers has a strong research back-up, and every subject is evidence based on its relevance, need and applicability.

The new generations of students are more aware, have greater access to several portals of knowledge and possess higher levels of aspirations. Their learning curve is defying the laws of gravity.

They need teachers who fall in the same league and whose own learning curve is constantly shooting upwards. They must necessarily become an integral part of regular and effective teachers’ training programmes.

The writer is chairman, academic council, Saamarthya Teachers Training Academy of Research, Ghaziabad.