Avoiding yesterday's education for tomorrow's kids

Avoiding yesterday’s education for tomorrow’s kids


Masum Billah
The world is changing fast. Though we are unable to keep pace with that change, our children who receive education mostly from the modern media and devices such as internet, twitter, facebook etc. are adopting those with much more comfortably than we do. So, we the teachers of yesterday with the ideas of old cannot hope to deliver successful teaching to the kids of tomorrow who have been surrounded by multidimensional educational tools.
Schools are being seen as places for the encouragement of creativity because they can do this in a “more efficient “manner and can develop it “not merely in elites but in masses of students, (Walberg 1988). In fact it is being said that creativity needs to be “ fostered  by the education system from the early  years onward” (Craft 1999) and that elementary and secondary education may be more important than university education for “ national prosperity and welfare”(Walberg 1988)In Japan the school curriculum has included development of creativity since the Second World War. The Japanese National Council on Educational Reform (NCER) has outlined the development of creativity as the most important objective of education for 21st century (O’ Donnell 1999). In Singapore the aim of new initiatives launched by the Ministry of Education, was to foster “enquiring minds, the ability to think critically and creatively” (O, Donnell 1990). These initiatives included the “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” program (Tan 2006) designed to develop thinking skills and creativity in students.  This was in response to leading industrialists and entrepreneurs indicating that staff in Singapore was more conforming than independent and not curious enough. (Tan 2006). The Singapore Ministry of Education Website states that they expect of their young to “be creative and imaginative’ ( MOE 2009). According to Singapore’ primary curriculum creativity is amongst the eight core skills and values (INCA 2009). In China creativity has become an important component of education since 2001 and its development has become a “priority” (Voong 2008). In Hong Kong the education policy proposal includes creativity as “higher order thinking skills”. There are educational reforms being carried in preschool, primary and secondary education in which development of creativity is being given a top priority. (Fryer 2003). What about us? We have crossed forty-four years since we achieved independence, still can we claim that we have such kind of phenomena in our education? We are producing students with higher grades only. Can these grades talk about quality and creativity of the students? Can the students utilize the thing they learn in our educational institutions in their real life situations?
Still many of our teachers believe in the theory ‘students should eat what they are fed’. This theory is obsolete now and the teachers who have understood this fact and do differently can go far and enjoy the job of teaching and just the opposite thing happens to those who still embrace this truth. Today’s teachers must know how to engage the learners in meaningful as well as exciting activities of the classroom whatever might be their classes. Today students from lower grade to higher ones get themselves exposed to the entire gamut of learning diversified, creative, innovative and much more exciting than the classes we arrange to give them learning. Try to get the things exposed naturally sleeping in them through the works they do in the classroom. Don’t think what I have learnt must be fed to them, if they don’t eat them, they will suffer from mal-nutrition. No. their nutrition is different and the source of getting those notion is also different which you must realize. If you teach them science don’t limit your class just inside the classroom and so-called laboratory work you have arranged with some old bottles and acids or salts. Let them go to nature, open field, open source to discover the hidden meaning, law of nature and natural changes. Remember, God has given them that natural quality. You as a teacher just facilitate the class and guide the learners towards a sophisticated way to let them go forward. If you teach social science don’t keep them glued to the pages of books only. Try to make them exposed to the wide world through the internet and mails they already use. Establish a meaningful connection and relation between the things they do in the classroom and the activities they do beyond the classroom. If you can do it, their excitement and interest will definitely be double as they can then discover a real connection between their academic world and real world.
Today many language books used as helping books available in the market bear the Bengali meaning of every line and even every word. Teachers of today should talk against it as it seriously kills the creativity of the students along with weakening their usual comprehensive capability because they need not do anything of their own. In the same manner, teachers of language  just explain the Bengali meaning of English which seriously discourage students’ attendance in the class as they find nothing new in the classroom which the teachers of today still give no or very little importance. In respect of other subjects as well, things are done in the books outside the market.
In developing questions teachers introduce nothing new. The books of the market contain all the solutions of the questions as no sign of newness in making questions has been used. In the name of creativity still memorization and coping and vomiting on the examination scripts prevail in the world of assessment. Questions should be developed in such a way as the examinees cannot write anything just coping it even though the text books are kept open before them without utilizing their own talent and ideas. This is creativity. This kind of question preparation is possible by the teachers who are really innovative, who think of tomorrow’s needs, who think of tomorrow’s kids.
(Masum Billah, manager, BRAC Education Programmme, author of several books on language and education. Email: masumbillah65@gmail.com)


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