Rather than fearing lost learning, we must continue to support new ways of learning and teaching that have begun during the pandemic
COVID-19 has accelerated many latent trends and shown how outdated and irrelevant some aspects of traditional education have become. These accelerating trends and drivers of change involve a spread of interconnecting factors: technology, demographics, climate, mobility, and social justice/equity, among others. These global transformations are shaping a future that is unpredictable, interdependent, and complex. So, how can education prepare students for such a world?
More than anything, students need the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will help them embrace opportunities and solve challenges. In addition to cognitive ability, they need broader competencies, such as teamwork, critical thinking, social and global awareness, time- and life-management skills — attributes not taught by traditional education.
Inquiry- and concept-based learning encourage students to be curious, identify creative ideas and solutions, make connections between concepts, and practice systems thinking to contribute to solving the world’s complex problems. Student agency — voice, choice and ownership — is a natural outcome of an inquiry-based education and is key to encouraging and motivating curious and independent thinkers. Critical thinking helps students become lifelong learners and can be stimulated with a transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary learning pedagogy.
An education framework, rather than a prescriptive curriculum, offers teachers agency and enables them explore areas of study and interests relevant to their students and learning contexts, and authentically incorporate national or local standards into their curriculum designs.
Give Teachers Agency
When teachers have agency, they are motivated to shape their teaching practices to meet individual students’ needs and encourage them to shape their own learning.
New technology opens many more pathways for students to gain the professional skills they desire. A combination of academic rigour and career-related real-world study will give them transferable and lifelong skills in applied knowledge, critical thinking, communication, cooperation, teamwork and cross-cultural engagement — qualities that are hugely welcomed by potential employers.
Last year’s lockdown has highlighted the adaptability, creativity and commitment of both teachers and students and we must continue to support the new ways of learning and teaching that have begun during this period. Rather than fearing lost learning, parents, schools and the government should reflect on the resilience of the community and support meaningful transformations to encourage more agency for both learners and educators.
We can create a world in which as many students as possible — no matter what their background — can benefit from an education that is empowered to create a better world.