Reinventing teaching for Post COVID 21st century education
What does teaching have to do to nurture thinking? What does it need to do to develop values? And what kind of work do children need to be Doing? How to provoke learning rather than deliver content, create inquiry, and room for reflection? How to create an environment for children to bring forth and develop their values, recognise and respect identity and diversity? How to bring the world into the classroom? How to grow self-directed learners with life-long learning skills? The complexity to meet this changing world and changing India, needs to go into planning of lessons so that the teaching is clean and simple. The teachers need to move from delivering content to being planners, assessors, thought provokers, observers and questioners of learning.
Teacher training in India is either fragmented, with low set up standards for short duration or outdated and with inadequate content & practices for longer duration. Both kinds of courses are needed, but today both produce teaching candidates with little technical understanding of teaching - work that begins once a new teacher hits the workplace, and through a high stress couple of years, often at the cost of the learners. There is a dearth of trainers that understand high quality teaching practise and have the ability to effect a change in trainee teachers. There are low entry and exit standards, besides low pay scales, making teaching a residual and secondary career at large. There is an ambient effect of this on people choosing to enter teaching to build it as a respected professional career. The problems are compounded by an increasing demand for the thin talent pool within and outside education. The global market is now taking our best teachers away, pricing them out of the reach of all but a few elite schools. While all this applies to the teaching quality at large, its impact on the younger years is extreme.
We need a movement like ‘Teach now’, ‘Teach-first’ and ‘Teach for America’ that take high potential young teaching candidates, and nurture them into a teaching force for a changing India, and also attract mid-career professionals seeking to create impact through education into the space. Over time we need to build the image of teaching to the importance it deserves. We need teachers that read, that write well, who think deeply about their own profession and development, for you cannot see or grow in learners what you don’t have.