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Education General Languages Learning

5 Revolutionary Teachers Who Changed Education

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Teachers have always been the driving force in inspiring students to make a difference. Still one amongst a million is a teacher that envisions a different route than the one prevailing. These teachers see education as what it truly is, a means to learn.

Such teachers, better termed as revolutionaries, institutionalize the system in their reign. They are responsible for encouraging students who are yet to discover the potential in themselves; someone who turns the ordinary into extraordinary. The world has seen multiple such revolutionary teachers who are responsible for bringing out a change in their time and inscribing their names into the very history books they teach from.

Amongst thousands of such names peppered over history, here are five-

Confucius- The oldest teacher to bring education revolution

Confucius, a Chinese educator and philosopher, is one of the oldest known teachers to have brought about a progressive change in the methods of traditional education. He was a legend of the Chinese golden age. His teaching and philosophies have become a paragon for much of east Asian culture and society and poses relevance even today.

His popularity rose to such heights and accumulated under Confucianism. Confucius was responsible for teaching a lot of everyday social and political teaching to the Chinese society. His lessons circled around justice, freedom, kindness, governmental morality, human relationships etc.

Confucius not only devised theories for education for the Chinese, but also gave importance to promoting education to the poor and underprivileged. The general public, during his time, lacked access to education. Therefore, to break the shackles of this feudalism, he opened private institutions for the people, which was open for all irrespective of their caste or social standing.

He was one of the pragmatic revolutionary teachers of his time and revolutionized education through his philosophies. Alongside, he also strived hard to purge the feudal mentality from the elites of his era. Moreover, his Meritocracy system, which designed exams for each important official position, allowed candidates from any class or background to apply for these posts.

The system gained worldwide recognition and has been inculcated since. Thus, Confucius is one of the earliest philosophers and educators who have managed to stay relevant thousands of years after their life. His philosophies and methods of teachings manage to give valuable lessons to educators and teachers till date.   

Maria Montessori- Self discovery in revolutionary education

Revolutionary teachers: Maria Montessori
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Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori, a famous Italian educator, changed the system of education as we know today. She believed in the system of education through self-discovery. She theorized through her observations that children were smart enough to learn on their own if their teachers provide them a suitable environment for it. Her education theory, named after her, is still implemented in a wide number of private schools and institutions.

Montessori’s designed coursework was developed on the basis of her everyday observations of young children. Her theories suggest using small furniture for young children’s classrooms. It also encourages students to learn the habit of greeting their teachers and doing little tasks on their own. These tasks could be arranging their own chairs or cleaning up after themselves, putting back their toys etc.

Classroom inspired by the Montessori method
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As a child develops and progresses in school, different such techniques are implemented for them to develop and grow on their own. She felt that students could learn independence and self-motivation in early stages through such methods. A skill much essential after they grow up.

Revolutionary teachers like her were inspired through her techniques. Her teaching methods allow children free choice of choosing activities, freedom of movement and uninterrupted work. Teachers are mere observers who are supposed to ensure that no student stays passive, while directing the students’ innate psychological and behavioral growth.

Friedrich Froebel- A revolutionary for younger minds

Revolutionary teachers: Friedrich Froebel
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Imagine a young developing mind staying at home and learning without any kind of social development. That was the case before Friedrich Froebel introduced the concept of Kindergarten. He was a middle school headmaster of an all-boys school before he found his true calling with pre-school children. At the same time, he invented the concept of Kindergarten and opened the first one in Blankenburg, Germany, his birth place.

Frobel believed that young children learned through self- activity, and methods of talk and play. Friedrich had always felt that the pre-school kids had a very sharp brain that absorbed habits and behaviors quicker. So, he devised a system of education specifically for them, highlighting their needs and requirements.

Frobel was the one to introduce activities like art and craft, paper cutting, clay modelling etc., in the curriculum for very young children. He firmly put emphasis on the fact that self-learning and self-discovery is the fastest route for young minds to understand concepts. He was amongst the first revolutionary teachers who theorized the relevance of school in a societal structure. Thus, changed the way school was perceived forever.

The Kindergarten Concept

Kindergarten is recognized as the best method of learning and development for young children, away from their homes. With activities like play and creative work, learning while creating and social interactions are what’s responsible for helping a child grow in a social environment. This kind of growth is important for the child to adapt to living in a school environment. And also develop habits at a stage where it is easier to inculcate them.

The miniature society concept for kindergarten has revolutionized early education for children. With introducing them to the social norms and helping them grow through themselves. The teachers or practitioners, again, should merely be facilitators of an environment where kids learn by themselves.

It is important, though, that the teacher understands different needs of different children. While some might be ready to make choices on their own, without some elder hovering, other children might need a superior. Being left on their own could overwhelm these kids might feel overwhelmed. Therefore, a teacher in kindergarten needs to assess these needs and act accordingly, as per Frobel.

William McGuffey- A textbook revolutionary teacher

Revolutionary teachers: William McGuffey
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The simplest way of teaching a child any language is by making them understand the alphabet, and then introduce sentences and assist vocabulary through subsequent reading. William McGuffey, a leading name amongst revolutionary teachers, developed this method of enhancing and establishing reading in schools.

His revolutionary thinking initialized when he first realized that the standard education system did not have any concepts of promoting reading for the young children. There was nothing but the bible available for them to read. This realization led him to develop something that would soon change the entire way of seeing the activity of reading and learning through it.

McGuffey became the professor of Language at Miami University in Oxford, where his ideas for language learning were extremely popular. His colleagues encouraged him to publish his readers, a series of books that could assist the students in reading.

McGuffey’s readers, titled as Eclectic Readers, set a standard for the future of textbooks. Till date, we follow the patterns of the written work, with necessary modifications made to keep it contemporary. The Eclectic readers gained widespread popularity within a few months of its release, with almost all immediate institutions clamoring over to adopt them in their curriculum.

About the Eclectic Readers
Eclectic readers
Wikimedia commons

These readers, written at different levels, was suitable for different age groups. The first level introduced the basic phonics and simple alphabets. This progressed into small sentences and gradually led to poems and stories. These readers did not teach vocabulary as a list of words.

Rather, the texts accompanied new words to provide meaning and context to them alongside the reading. The presentation of these readers was extremely engaging, with pictures and exercises like questions and read along. This not only boosts their confidence to represent themselves in social settings, but also enhances their quick thinking and responding abilities.  

McGuffey Primer
Wikimedia Commons  

Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan- India’s revolutionary educator

Revolutionary teachers: Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan
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The First Vice President and the second Prime Minister of India, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan was an Indian teacher and educator. His contribution to Indian Education was so profound that Indians celebrate his birthday as Teachers’ Day.

He earned his post graduate degree at the age of 21 and since then set off to fulfill his passion of teaching. An extremely humble and pragmatic educator, his education policies and methods. garnered him respect from peers

His philosophy for education was that it should not be the dogmatic book learning. Nor should it be of complex theorems that are unrelated to real life. He was a revolutionary teacher who also believed that if education does not lead a student to experience a spiritual awakening, it wasn’t that effective in teaching. He worked towards educating students passionately, believing that it was essential for national integration and for increasing the productivity of the citizens of the country.

According to Dr. Radhakrishnan’s teaching philosophy, “the process of education should be able to create mental detachment and objectivity, which are the essential prerequisites of a well-balanced personality. The importance of education is not only in knowledge and skill, but it is to help us live with others….”   

Conclusion

These revolutionary teachers and educators have unequivocally changed the prevailing perceptions for education, bringing a revolution in their times and for the centuries to come ahead. All these teachers weren’t orthodox or traditionalists—the purpose of education has changed and evolved over time. Today, we need more revolutionary teachers like them to take the next step in the education sector.

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Education General Learning

Is Our Education System Molding Us For Failure?

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The concept of an education system is more of a subjective one, if you think about it. Yes, it involves systematic methods of giving and receiving information. However, it also has way more to it like the learner’s inclinations, the teacher’s methods, the learning environment and so on.

Education aims to prepare individuals to become a part of the economy and society. It also helps them develop a value system, practice critical thinking, and of course, inculcate problem solving skills. It’s something that evokes mixed feelings, though. Some love it, some detest it and some are doing all they can to get access to it.

However, it’s pretty clear that our education systems have a foundation accumulated over the years. The question is: does it encourage following hierarchy and obedience rather than critical thinking and formulation of individual perspective? 

The “ideal” education system 

Let’s take a look at what an ideal education should look like.

  • A course that allows students to explore various fields to understand their interests better
  • A system that encourages them to follow these interests, rather than having multiple courses imposed on them
  • A more personalized learning because every learner’s needs are different 
  • An educational journey that challenges the learner to bring out the best in them, rather than shut down their learning

Education should be a catalyst in a learner’s discovery process, rather than an active element.

Our current education systems, while slowly adapting to these different learning needs, still have room for growth. At present, it builds on systems that make the learner seem more employable. This means focusing on book knowledge that is coerced into the learner.

However, rather than treating education as a commodity, it would do better to see it as an essential service. Instead of enclosing learners in a box, encouraging them to explore out of it could make the learning process more efficient

The issue with this system is that it stimulates compliance and disappoints questioning of the system. This eventually just grooms citizens who want to encourage the current system and accept all information displayed to them, rather than exploring topics and having their own say in it. The latter would also act as a change enabler.

The bright side of it, however, is that we do have an elaborate education system in place that is constantly reviewing itself for betterment. The question is, is that enough? 

The takeaway 

Education is a sector that is essentially intertwined with various aspects of a functioning society. This means that any real change will trigger subsequent changes in these auxiliary sectors. Such an elaborate system means that a drastic overnight change may not be practical. It seems reasonable that the system can eventually adapt itself to the needs of these diverse learners. So is our education system is molding us for failure? The verdict is that it’s more a case of “if the shoe fits”. While it may work for some, it may not be the best approach for all 

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Education General Learning

Educational Freedom – Myth or Reality?

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Say, you want to be a musician. Would you rather spend your time learning calculus or mastering your instrument? Learners often don’t have an option between the two and have to balance between the two. Educational freedom changes the ball game by giving you options.

Understanding Educational Freedom

Educational freedom is the right to make educational choices without the State’s interference. It involves parents and children being able to choose their education based on their views as well as perceptions. With 155 of 195 countries recognizing the right to basic education legally, it is becoming something of a globally accepted concept.

However, educational freedom involves a little more than just access to education. Educational freedom means that faculty have more accountability, and students get to explore their views without being influenced by the perspective of the faculty or institution. It also means that there isn’t much direct interference from the government or any other external facilities.

Educational Freedom vs Right to Education

Although easy to confuse, there is quite a difference between ‘Right to Education’ and ‘Educational Freedom’. While the former is more of recognizing education as a necessary service, the latter focuses more on what the term education constitutes.

Most education systems take on a one-size-fits-all approach. The issue with this is there are different types of learners and learning styles. Having a standardized approach, therefore, can be a hassle than it is useful. These systems don’t necessarily encourage questioning in classrooms. Instead, they try to motivate students towards increasing academic scores.

The assumption that all children must be interested to learn all courses offered is another issue with mandatory imposition of specific syllabi. It is important for younger minds to be exposed to wider subjects to explore their interests. Moreover, this approach may not be productive for slightly older learners. Imposing subjects that learners are not keen towards could potentially undermine their actual interests and bore them.

Therefore, it is safe to say that education is in dire need of liberation.

Benefits and Components

Freedom of education involves classes that aren’t mandatory. There are no compulsions on mandatory subjects or levels of attendance. Instead, parents understand their natural inclination and support them. Education has more impact when children aren’t learning something specific out of parental pressure.

The benefits of academic freedom extend beyond just for the professors, students, and institutions. The society also benefits from broader perspectives and improved innovations. It cultivates creative thinking and helps students to express views that they may disagree with. Faculty get to pick which teaching methods they find most effective. In turn, students are able to understand in order to draw their own conclusions 

Current Scenario of Educational Freedom

Global Public Policy Institute index on educational freedom
Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi)

This Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) index shows countries in North America, Armenia, and so on, seeing a higher educational freedom index. On the other hand, China and the UAE rank lower in the educational freedom index. The index clearly shows the need for more freedom in education across the world.

Conclusion

Human beings are quite similar anatomically. However, when it comes to learning capabilities, the differences are apparent. As such, we need an education system that can cater to different learners and learning styles. Educational freedom plays an important role here. The more freedom of choice learners have, the better they can design their future. So, a musician need not learn string theory and can focus on music theory.

Additional resources: 

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/12/21/defining-academic-freedom

https://www.google.co.in/books/edition/Educational_Freedom_in_Eastern_Europe/hj2SNOyH9QIC?hl=en&gbpv=0

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Education General Learning

Learning Through Questions- The ‘Ws and H’ That Assist you in Learning

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What, Why, When, Which, and How—these words shape questions that foster thinking in our minds. The students need questions to indulge their brains in high-order thinking and enforce evaluation of the curriculum through their own skills. The age-old pattern of classroom learning has, since then, seen modifications in a lot of ways, though the practice of questions has maintained its consistency.

Asking questions is most efficient if it’s a two-way process. As such students should cater to their curiosity through questions and teachers must inculcate asking questions in their method of teaching and communicating with students. This enables better engagement in classrooms and helps understand the level of understanding each student has gained in what is being taught.

Want to know more about why asking questions in a classroom is important? Read Here

It is important to know what to ask and when to ask it. This assists the entire process of learning and aids a better understanding in the long run. We can classify questions into types based on characteristics and the kind of answers they receive. Analyzing these categories of questions is extremely important. It promotes reasoning, problem-solving, evaluation, and the formulation of hypotheses.

 Asking Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions

These two kinds of questions are the most basic types of questioning that follow a classroom session. close-ended questions are extremely objective in nature, while a direct question is asked with the purpose of gaining a direct answer. This questioning is done by both students and teachers, with the goal of evaluating the level of understanding on both ends. These are fairly easy to tackle. Although they do not compel students to think hard and provide opinions or analyse a topic, they are extremely useful.

On the other hand, open-ended ones are extremely subjective. They require thinking, processing, evaluating, and analyzing. They majorly assist the teachers to inculcate deeper learning in students by helping them create their own perspectives.

Students use open-ended questions to their teachers, which not only fosters their ability to compartmentalize what is being taught to them but also shows fruitful and active involvement. ‘Why do you think this happened?’ or ‘What are your opinions on this issue?’ or ‘How would this issue have affected the other?’. These kinds of questions usually have more than one correct answer and therefore, foster creative thinking—a major factor of growth in young minds.

Metacognitive Questions by Teachers

 Metacognition in simple words is thinking about one’s own thinking. For students, metacognition is a practice that fosters them to evaluate their own perceptions, answers, and opinions. A teacher can enforce Meta Thinking in the classroom.

Simple questions, placed strategically within the lecture duration, can enforce excellent metacognition in students and stay with them for their life. These questions can hinder or enhance creative thinking, given the context a teacher uses them.

Consider these two questions: ‘Which of these makes more sense?’ versus ‘which of these makes more sense according to you?’ The structuring of the question is similar in both. But, the first question suggests a cognition in students that implies that the teacher has already chalked out the correct answer. If you can point out the correct one, you’re smart, and if you fail to do so, you’re not.

The second question, however, centers around fostering creative thinking in students. It compels students to internalize all possible answers and evaluate them on their own. Metacognitive questioning doesn’t pressurize the students into thinking there’s a right answer they need to figure out. It simply evokes curiosity so that they grind their minds using all the opinions and perceptions that they build while retaining.

If a student has difficulty answering metacognitive questions, it is a clear indication that the problem doesn’t lie in their inability to retain knowledge. It is confidence and self-efficacy that they lack. The teacher then focuses on these problems instead of casting off the child as slow learners.

Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy

Low and high-order division of questions influences the Taxonomy theory heavily. However, this classification brings only cognition into focus. These two cognitive categories include lower order ( for memory, rote, and simple recall) and higher-order ( for more demanding and exacting thinking).

Taxonomy, however, expanded itself into not one but three domains, one of them being cognition. The other two domains are psychomotor and affective, all three of which overlap with each other. These three domains are co-dependent on each other, with the most basic level being cognition.

Taxonomy assists teachers in dividing the difficulty level of questions to ask the students. It is a method for students to not only self-evaluate but also develop understanding from a basic level before moving higher up.

Taxonomy states six steps for clearing concepts, each step having its own sets of questions. Once students resolve these questions, they can move forward to the next. Each step assists in answering the next one. Hence, by the end, students are able to fully grasp the topic.

Conclusion

These methodologies, at their core, inculcate intelligent questioning in classrooms. Questions tend to boost the level of retention in a class. It also increases student engagement and is the best way to facilitate understanding and grasping the nuances of a topic. Asking questions has been proven to be profoundly fruitful by generations of theorists and educational psychologists. It will continue being essential till classrooms are facilitated by the two-way interaction system, amongst the teacher and students.

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Education General Learning

Education’s need for Liberation

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Education has been the basis of setting standards for gaining a position in society for centuries. Periods and eras passed, and the methods and purpose of providing education transformed. Different regions of the world used different approaches to impart education. But throughout the world, the purpose of providing education remains the same—to liberate a child from the binding shackles of illiteracy.

Education has shown a consistency of being enlightening, assisting students to grow, develop, and enhance their skills alongside. But somewhere along the way, the ultimate goal of enrichment of a student through education has somehow shifted to this grubby race of scores and marks, following an objectively repetitive pattern of learning.

There can be a litany of complaints that one can put forward if asked what is wrong with today’s education. Students growing out of the system of authority, burned out and overworked teachers, inadequate methods of assessment of intellect, and unaffected students are some of them.

Added to the list are a slow adaptation to the fast-growing technology, inconsistent and unequal school funding, and a general lack of relevancy that has been caused by years of repetitive teaching methods and course work. However, perhaps the greatest drawbacks of the education system currently have been the conventional pedagogy of depending on books to hone skills.

Therefore, the liberation that one expects after receiving formal education does not do much in carving a competent person and ready to face the world. What exactly are these limitations that need an alteration or at least require renewing to keep up with contemporary times and the fast-evolving species of humans?

The Limitations of a Four-Walled Classroom Education

It has been around a year and a half into the pandemic now. The location of receiving education might have changed from a formal classroom to a digital screen, but the confines of learning remain the same.

Online learning did prove to be a revolution of its own. But with it came the realization that the system of education was majorly lacking. Students had grown extremely used to confining within the four walls to receive an education. So much so that adapting to learning from home became a huge challenge. Around 70% of the teachers had to design their courses anew, with assignments designed for a more holistic evaluation.

What’s upsetting is that students have never been led out of the classroom walls into the world to learn. Being in this restrictive schooling environment had inhibited their development, and it took the pandemic for us to realize that. The inflexibility in teaching is the reason why students are finding it so hard to adapt themselves to studying online. Many theorists have argued for the notion of schools killing students’ creativity—a fact that has been proved by compelling life examples of geniuses like Albert Einstein and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Restrictive System of Evaluation

Students are taught certain topics in certain periods of time, after which they have to answer questions that test their subjective and objective understating of it. Learning and cramming for the sake of scoring well in the exams, instead of committing it to the long-term memory has sadly become a very common practice.

Researchers and education reformists have brought this practice to the attention of education institutions several times. What education really needs today is a better motivator to enhance the skills of the students. Scoring well in exams can be that motivator. However, in today’s education system, good scores only mean cramming and purging on the answer paper. Then, completely wiping it out of the memory and moving on to the next course.

Standardized Tests

It might not be an easy feat to achieve, but it is high time the way of evaluation changes in the education system. The comprehensive learning of students requires a challenge—in a way that will compel them to truly submerge their minds in the concepts educators try to teach them. They need to be able to know everything that they’ve been learning, ten years from now. Only then is education actually fulfilling its purpose.

The present evaluation methods have inhibited a lot of students who face examination anxiety from performing to their full potential. We need a major change in the way knowledge is evaluated.

Need for change in Education Policies

Reforms worldwide keep education on a huge pedestal to evaluate the prosperity and intellect of the entire country. Evaluating scholars through their IQs, and comparing their marks and scores has become a norm. Each country has ranked on the basis of the students who are able to ace these standardized tests.

It is perhaps time to realize the flaw in this system. There is a need to acknowledge the unfairness of grouping multiple kinds of intelligence, aptitudes, and skills and grade them under one. Furthermore, it is time to realize that not every student learns in the same way. Thus, they require customized evaluation methods.

The policymakers need to leave the age-old methods that they were raised into. Instead, they should revolutionize education on a global level. The stagnation in this structure has stopped benefiting the evolving society and the new-age students. So an in-depth change is the need of the hour.

Each country might have different needs, based on the culture, diversity, and upbringing of the youth. Yet no one can deny that education has been in a rut for far too long now across the globe. Change, therefore, is necessary and should ideally start from the policymakers. Then, institutions need to implement those changes to see a positive transformation in students.     

Limitation of Education

Conclusion

The picture that today’s education system portrays, with high IQ people gaining relative success, is certainly pretty. But what gets blurry are students who have been a victim of this one-track train wreck side of education. Those students were never able to reach their full potential because the current education system could give them a platform. The cliché of a student being good in either sports or studies to reach somewhere in life needs to break from the school level itself. And a revamp of the entire system is just what the doctor recommends!