I had a chance to listen to a Ted talk by Pavan Arora with the topic: “Knowledge is obsolete, so now what?” Pavan talked about the ever-changing knowledge nowadays and he insisted that some knowledge will be useless in the future. Pavan then raised two thought-provoking questions: (1) “Are we teaching what the students need?” and (2) “How to ensure students can apply the knowledge we teach them today in the future?”. I would like to address these questions with my personal observation and with what I have experienced in the educator role.
(1) “Are we teaching what the students need?”
In the digital age, students are now more accessible to knowledge than ever. When students face a certain problem in their life, for example, they use search engines such as Google to search for instant solutions for that problem. In school, students use different resources to locate the knowledge they want to learn. This evidence demonstrates that students are taking control of their learning more than ever. While this is considered a good learning habit of students, a one-size-fits-all and inflexible curriculum is believed to negatively affect this learning habit. Let’s say when we put 20 students in one computer class, teach them how to use Windows operation system because we assume Windows is common and all students should learn how to use Windows for good. By doing this way, we totally ignore the need of other students who might find they like to learn MacOS or another system rather than Windows. Consequently, these students would find the lessons on Windows system useless and they would less likely to apply that knowledge in the future. Choosing what to teach by subjectively assuming the needs of students poses a high risk for educators. It is a waste of time, budget, the energy of educators since students find what they are taught irrelevant, and inapplicable. As a result, students might participate in learning those subjects because they want to secure their marks, attendance but not because they are interested.
(2) “How to ensure students can apply the knowledge we teach them today in the future?”
As an educator, I would like to spread the thinking “no knowledge is useless” to my students because I believe at some points of life, each of us might use a knowledge which we thought we are not gonna use. By this, I would encourage students not to devalue any knowledge even when they find it useless or that knowledge doesn’t serve their interests. Teaching based on the needs of each of individual students seems like an impossible task to be done in short time for educators because to make this happen, we need an educational reform that requires lots of time, and supports from Ministry of Education and other educational departments. Some of us might be required to adhere to a certain curriculum but what we can do is to talk to students, listen to what they think about the knowledge that we are teaching, encourage students to give us feedback, from that we will be able to find where we can adjust, maybe just a little bit in the curriculum, so we will be able to deliver knowledge that students find useful and interested in learn. As I said before, personalizing each of individual student’ learning when you alone manage a classroom with let’s say, 20 students, is an impossible task. The goal is to recognize the diversity of the needs of the student. From that, we can try to provide as many opportunities as we can for students to engage in interactive learning, learning through experiment, teach them creativity instead of the knowledge itself. I believe when we teach students the knowledge itself, they might forget what they have learned even just after a few days. However, when the students are taught how to apply the knowledge in their context, they will remember the knowledge for a long time and they will likely be able to use the knowledge even in the future.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. If you are a teacher, I would be happy if some of you can share how do you teach creativity in your classroom? How do you teach students to apply knowledge?