Education – getting past the myths about learning

Whenever I read an article or blog, or view a TED talk on Education, I’m always struck by how the problems are similar around the world. Some developed countries get it right –Scandinavian countries certainly seem to – whilst others such as the US seem to be engaged in the same struggle as the rest of us. Similarly some developing nations, such as South Korea, seem to have the winning formula. It’s clear that the amount of money spent is not the key issue: Education is not a problem we can simply throw money at.

In South Africa blaming the Education Minister is almost a national sport, and yes I have been as vocal as the next person.  If we can get the educators frame of mind right, then maybe we will have a chance of improving the situation.

I was thrilled to be sent this Infographic “18 Myths people believe about Education” from Dyeseka Budac, Community Outreach Specialist , Open Colleges.

Dyeseka was a member of the team who developed it.  Get the Infographic and read the explanations of each myth here.

The explanations on the aforementioned site are sufficient. But why I wonder do these myths prevail? I believe some reasons problem might be:

  • Teaching instead of facilitating learning. Pedagogy by its very definition is teacher-centric. Teachers should engage the natural curiosity of their learners. Children are all different, so the process should engage different kids in different ways.
  • Teachers are too bound by the syllabus and the assessments. When we teach to improve pass marks we are focused on numbers instead of learning. In business we say “You get what you measure” – doesn’t the same apply in education?
  • Sir Ken Robinson points out that STEM education is very necessary, but not more so than the Humanities, Arts and Physical Education. All of these are important for the creative process.
  • Teachers should be treated and compensated as Professionals. As Professionals they must subscribe to a Code of Ethics, and embrace life-long learning.
  • Learners should be made to believe they are capable of learning and succeeding. So the teacher has a critical role to play in building self-esteem.
  • Class sizes must be manageable (despite the contention of Myth 15). If the class has more than 35 learners, it’s not teaching it is crowd control!
  • Technology can be used very effectively for delivery of content, and self paced learning does help with the natural learning of curious kids. However it is not effective if it is not provided in an enabling environment.

In my view we have to stop embracing the myths, which are simply excuses which are not factual. We need to focus on enabling teachers, and providing a more flexible environment where the focus is on learning.

Benjamin Franklin contended that there were three types of people in the world: Immovable people, who can’t and won’t change; Movable people, who with some encouragement will change; and Movers who are the people who drive change. Let’s ignore the Immovables, and be the Movers who bring the Movable’s around.

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