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An Apple for the Teacher?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 30, 2021 15:20

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Teaching in the time of COVID is complicated. Apart from the need to distance, students without the means of accessing electronic media will be left behind, and less affluent students are likely to drop out. This is the ideal time to review our methods of teaching, transmit knowledge and not just facts, to promote understanding and not just repetition.

Close acquaintances and relatives are in the hands of educators. A daughter teaches, grandchildren attend pre-primary and middle primary school, friends study at university, others are engaged in on-the-job learning. A friend and client's religious-based education courses cannot keep up with the demand. 

The Gutenberg press and Martin Luther's emphasis on learning brought about a revolution of education amidst the Black Death. Five centuries later, the digital age and the COVID pandemic will usher in a new age of education. Then, universities blossomed, now... it's too early to tell.

A few anecdotes: A grandaughter pined away while schools were closed, missing the interaction, the social exchange, the learning that takes place, I'm told, within gaggles of giggling girls. Her brother, on the other hand, decided that the home schooling thing works for him, thank you, and he will continue with that.

A friend, veterinary student from overseas, had to cope with on-again off-again teaching as lecturers, fellow students fell ill, as campus closed and re-opened. Online exams became the thing, complete with systems to identify students glancing at reference works illicitly. 

Photo Facebook

 

In my previous life as a training officer there was a constant struggle to find ways to test knowledge without, necessarily, testing the ability to regurgitate taught facts. This is more acute these days, as we move into new ways of learning. The Cambridge program my grandson follows has found ways to test the ability to read, to solve problems and to think logically.

Apparently, Japanese children spend their first years at school learning how to interact, to resolve interpersonal conflict, to interact socially, and then they begin to learn the nuts and bolts of science. 

In designing a new form of education, we have to take into account social education: Solving interpersonal conflicts, competing, teamwork. Is our present education system up to the task? How do we test objectively for results? As for the mechanics of academic subjects, let us consider mathematics.

Two memories surface: My son, at twelve, lamented his new teacher, a young scholarship holder with a master's degree in pedagogy, who abandoned a class halfway, then returned and told them to turn a new page, because 'this is not a division sum, it's a multiplication sum.' And a Professor who had done research on methods of testing telling us that in grading mathematical exam results six months apart lecturers could show no correlation to their previous grading results. 

You cannot learn how to feed pigs, check their health, help at birth digital. But will a vet not check references, even digital ones, if in doubt? New ways of testing if students understand subjects, know how to research, know how to think, must be found.

Poster by Mathieu Plourde. Wikipedia, CC BY 2.0

The University of YouTube, the existence of MOOCs (look it up) is real, it's a sign of things to come.

 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 30, 2021 15:20

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Source: TIME

When school facilities closed for in-person learning in early March 2020 , the assumption was that the shutdown and...

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