Embracing the culture of Life Long learning

On 6th September, I had the opportunity to speak on ‘Embracing the culture of life long learning’ under  the aegis of Metamorphosis.

Here is the transcript.

Let’s look around us. The world has changed. The transport system be it train, bus or car are not what they were 50 years ago. There is a change in the communication system. Webinars, zoom meetings didnt exist a few years ago. Infact, the COVID pandemic brought in a set of changes that would have probably made their advent a little later. But, the educational system is one where not much change is seen. I am speaking at a macro level.

This education system was given to us by the British. Our current system measures long retention, speed of writing, ability to memorise, Quick recall. Capacity to learn around 13 chapters/ subject  by the time reach 10th grade! This system does us not give us a scope of learning with understanding.

It’s time for the teacher to move from the position of a knowledge bank to that of a facilitator.

To give a hilarious example.

Researchers asked children and adults the following question:

There were 26 sheep and 10 goats in a ship. How old is the captain? Adults laughed but some children wanted to know if they should add or subtract? An excellent example of surface learning.

The children of today are tech savvy. Posts and Telegraph dept wanted about 100 students to write on the post cards. They probably wanted to market the postcards. To get the children to do it we had to move heaven and earth. If only we had asked them to BLOG! So teachers at least need to know the tools.

Learners construct their own meaning and make connections between the old and new learning.

Let me narrate a little story at this point. There was a fish and a tadpole who lived in a pond. Tne were great friends. As time passed, the tadpole grew legs, tail disappeared and this 4 legged creature left the pond.

Weeks went by the frog did not return. The little fish wondered where her friend was. Then one day, the frog splashed back into the pond saying he had seen extra ordinary things. Like birds he said.

The fish wanted to know what a bird looked like. The frog went on to describe but how did the fish visualise it? The fish imagined the bird to have the body of a fish with frogs legs and two wings. The fish had only seen fish and frog. I would wonder what the imagination would be if the frog were to describe a cow?

This emphasises the need to link the past knowledge to the new one. Only then will holistic development will take place.

Learning is a creative process and not a passive one.

Researchers found that the students appearing for a SAT test could easily solve the problem A but had difficulty in solving B.

225 divided by 15.

If a gardener has 225 bulbs to plant equally in 15 flower beds how many would be in each bed.

Question B is a synthesis question that required problem solving. So the teacher needs to update her pedagogical content. Use techniques that the student finds interesting and challenging. Move from teacher directed  to student directed to finally student driven.

There are a few approaches that are making their rounds in the academic circles.

A few principle of learning according to cognitivist approach

  1. Teachers need to set HOTs which can be taught.
  2. Move from simple to complex

The constructivists principles include

  1. learning by doing,
  2. make learning fun
  3. What the learner does is more important than what the teacher does.

Behaviourists principles include

  1. Reinforcement should be immediate
  2. Behaviour modifications can be done in small steps

These would work as a foundation for the class management and student – teacher interactions.

When I did my teacher training the Blooms taxonomy of Krathwohl did not exist. It was introduced in 2001. Today, I conduct workshops on Blooms taxonomy!

Sugata Mitra conducted an experiment called ‘hole in the wall’. It involved minimally invasive education. Children leant to overcome the challenge of learning English to operate the computer. They taught themselves.

Learning  should be Contextual. Co-relate the subjects don’t teach in isolation.  Include any form of art into it, then it becomes Art Integrated lesson.

Collaborative learning is the buzz word today. Lets me give you an example. Topic is insects. The teacher discusses the experience and gets the student to learn using the ‘Jigsaw technique’.

This technique covers mastery learning, competency learning, experiential learning and collaborative learning.

Teaching through experiential learning will most definitely help in understanding concepts. – think, care and share concept will aid in the memory & retention

A good teacher  need not be just good in teaching, a teacher who believes in the children – can raise the performance of the class and an uninterested teacher can not only undo the work done but can take it down by a couple of years  This is proved by studies.

Change is sustainable only if it involves learning. Giving notes on ‘how to’ does not help. Teachers may have to be role models. They should create awareness and reflection. There is no oath like the Hippocratic oath in the teaching profession. So, the lines of ethics are drawn by the individual. One with principles with walk the talk.

We need to ask ourself 2 questions – Where are we? What are we here for?

Teachers have to rise to the demands of the NEP and cater to the needs of the kids. There is no ready recokner.

I conclude with  a citation from ‘Transforming the systems Movement by Russel Ackoff.

A student once stopped me on the hall and asked, ‘Professor when did you teach your first class?’ September 1941 I said. Wow You have been teaching for a long time. I agreed. Then he asked. When was the last time you taught a subject that existed when you were a student? This required some thinking and going back in time. Finally I said September 1951. Do you mean to say that everything you have taught us for nearly 50 years without it having been taught to you? Wow You must be a pretty good learner.

Check out the video.


Published by Dr. Pramila Kudva

I am a teacher educator currently worrking as a Principal of a reputed school in North Mumbai, have more than 30 years of experience, with several publications to my credit and have authored a book -"From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

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