Archive for the ‘Teacher's Professionalism’ Category

Maszlee has vast experience in education – IDEAS

Sunday, May 20th, 2018
Dr Maszlee Malik is the new Education Minister.
KUALA LUMPUR: Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) welcomes the appointment of Dr Maszlee Malik as Education Minister, describing him as a person with vast experience in the field of education, both as an educationist and author.

Its chief executive officer, Ali Salman, in his congratulatory statement said Dr Maszlee was also famous for exhibiting principled stance by speaking on critical issues openly.

He said the Simpang Renggam Member of Parliament had provided fresh ideas for the Malaysian education system during his campaign by proposing teaching assistants in classrooms, reducing class sizes as well as paperwork for teachers.

“He has also shown commitment to education issues affecting the community through his work on the Board of Governors of the IDEAS Autism Centre and other non-governmental organisations such as Teach for the Needs (TFTN) and Downsyndrome Educational Centre (ORKIDS),” he said.

Ali Salman, who is also the chief executive officer of Islam and Liberty Network, a global platform of researchers and academics, said that Maszlee had actively contributed in debate on Islam and policy issues by presenting an inclusive, plural and liberal interpretation of Islam.

He said Maszlee had also shown commitment to IDEAS in the past when he convened its short course on Political Economy in 2014.


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Dr Maszlee to make learning a joy again.

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

Image result for Photo of Dr Maszlee Malik

PETALING JAYA:  Johor Baru-born Dr Maszlee Malik’s stated aim in the next five years is to ensure the national school system becomes the choice of parents and students.

“We are only playing with numbers, rankings, achievement rates based on exams. In the ‘Buku Harapan’ (Pakatan Harapan’s Mani-festo), we offer a few comprehensive initiatives for the education system, says the newly-named Education Minister.

“We also want to lighten the load of teachers by creating teaching assistants, smaller class sizes and reducing clerical tasks,” Dr Maszlee told Astro Awani in a programme where he was joined by DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong.

The academic, a lecturer at International Islamic University Malaysia, said both teachers and academicians at institutes of higher learning were facing pressure.

“When allocations are slashed and we are burdened with chasing after rankings, doing business and others, we are distracted from our core tasks as educators.

“For teachers and students, the process of learning and teaching are no longer as fun and joyful as before,” said Dr Maszlee.

The Persatuan Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) MP, who won the Simpang Renggam seat in Johor, received his Bachelors and Masters in Islamic Jurisprudence and Prin­ciples of Islamic Jurisprudence from University Malaya and Jordan’s al-Bayt University.

He received his doctorate in Political Science from Durham Uni­versity in the United Kingdom, and is a board member for think tank IDEAS’ Autism Centre.

He is among the 14-member Cabinet named by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

The proposed list was approved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at Istana Negara yesterday evening.

PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was named for two posts, namely that of Deputy Prime Minister and Women and Family Development Minister.

Pribumi president Tan Sri Muh­yid­din Yassin was named Home Minister while Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu was named Defence Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng as Finance Minister.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali was surpri­singly named Economic Affairs Minister.

Also in the list were Pribumi’s Rina Harun who was named as Rural Development Minister and PKR’s Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin who will be Housing and Local Government Minister.

DAP lawmakers Anthony Loke Siew Fook was named Transport Minister, Gobind Singh Deo as Communications and Multimedia Minister and M. Kulasegaran the Human Resource Minister.

Amanah’s Salahuddin Ayub will head the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry while Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad will be Health Minister.

The new Cabinet ministers will take their oath of office before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara at 11.30am on Monday.
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Students need firm, friendly teachers

Sunday, December 24th, 2017
Rote learning, drilling and spoon-feeding were once popular techniques in the classroom. In today’s learning environment, teachers are to take a back seat to let students become autonomous learners and make calculated decisions. FILE PIC

WITH the new academic year just around the corner, parents have begun making a checklist to prepare their school-going children, while shopkeepers may expect a large number of customers flooding their stores. As for teachers, they need to gear up for a new adventure in their careers

Today’s generation is too obsessed with following unhealthy trends that influence the way they speak, write, dress and think. Their thoughts and actions may sometimes take us by surprise. Their varied personalities may be interesting to explore, yet they are challenging to deal with.

Thus, it is important for teachers to equip themselves with strategies and skills to survive this bittersweet journey together.

Rote learning, drilling and spoon-feeding were once popular techniques applied in classrooms as examinations were the main focus. Now, students are expected to be creative, innovative and imaginative individuals who are able to lead, communicate effectively and develop multiple talents through co-curricular activities, school programmes and co-academic competitions. Teachers are to take a back seat to let students become autonomous learners and make calculated decisions.

Every lesson has its fun elements and flaws; it is nice to have enthusiastic learners participating actively in class, but uncooperative, disruptive and lackadaisical students may make it difficult for a lesson to proceed smoothly, resulting in other students getting distracted. To make learning happen and to make students behave is a great challenge, especially when it comes to classes with demotivated, weak and problematic students. Therefore, it is advisable for teachers to prepare alternative plans to solve the problem.

To conduct lessons using varied teaching methods in the first few weeks of the year may help teachers learn about students’ personalities and learning styles. This strategy will help teachers prepare better plans for future lessons to keep students intrigued and motivated during lessons.

All students share something in common. They wish to be seen, heard and appreciated. While some students may volunteer to ask or answer questions to be noticed, others may choose to cause trouble to get attention. It is easy to jump to conclusions and decide which learner is interested in learning and which one is not, but teachers need to be smart in analysing their students’ behaviours before working on solutions.

Students come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and they have life experiences. Their behaviours and attitudes are influenced by their upbringing and surroundings. Their low self-control and peer pressure make them feed their curiosity, satisfy their desires and relieve their stress in the wrong way, resulting in bullying, smoking, abuse of drugs and sexual offences.

By Muhamad Solahudin Ramli

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Inspiring the next generation

Monday, November 13th, 2017
Students are constantly challenged to look at things from different perspectives and defend their stand in the classroom.

Students are constantly challenged to look at things from different perspectives and defend their stand in the classroom.

DO you remember the teacher who made a difference in your life? A good teacher does more than just impart knowledge to their students — they inspire them to give it their best and to dream bigger.

Many educators who devote themselves to educating their students hope to leave a positive impact on their lives. In addition to helping them find academic success, some educators encourage and help them achieve personal growth as well.

Here are the stories of two lecturers who devoted many years into educating the next generation.

Taking bold, new steps for the future

“After working four years as an engineer, I decided to switch to teaching as I decided that job satisfaction is more important,” he said.

Seo’s interest in teaching began when he was in school. While he enjoyed helping his classmates with their lessons, he enjoyed the challenge of making difficult concepts easy to understand.

His interest in doing so carried on even as he began his career as a lecturer at Taylor’s College. When technology was first introduced in enhancing education in classrooms, he was among the first enthusiastic early adopters. Seo recognised the potential technology had in improving the way students could learn.

His enthusiasm landed him an award for innovative learning, along with an opportunity to share his knowledge and experience with his fellow colleagues. They soon followed his example and started incorporating technology in their classes.

The changes soon had their effect. Student learning improved after the introduction of technology in classrooms.

“With the use of technology, education is now more flexible and convenient. Students can study anywhere at any time with their mobile devices. The Internet allows them to access information instantaneously.

“They can also interact with the lecturers easily using WhatsApp or FB messenger,” he said.

In the early years of his career, his teaching methods were limited to the old chalkboard and overhead projectors. Today, the innovative lecturer practices the Flipped Classroom method.

The method reverses the traditional approach to learning whereby students now watch the lectures outside the classroom instead of in class.

In class, students go through quizzes and ask the lecturer any questions they may have about the lessons. Seo discusses different questions while highlighting correct approaches in solving them.

“During class, I will summarise the important lesson points and clarify any questions that the students might have.

“Students need the lecturers more when practising questions than when watching a lecture being presented,” he explained.

Seo’s willingness to embrace new technologies and learning methodologies are part of his drive to constantly improve himself as a lecturer.

“We have to teach them to fish, not give them a fish every day. With the proper guidance, they will achieve their true potential,” he said.

For a better future

Wendy Loo, who has been with Taylor’s College since the start of her career, has seen many students come and go. Seeing them move on to start successful careers fills her with a sense of pride.

Over her 31 years at Taylor’s College, Loo has been a witness to the ever-changing landscape of the education field. Loo recalls that over the years, many programmes have changed to cater to the needs of students.

Loo, who teaches Legal Studies for the SAM/SACEI programme, believes that education today focuses on more than just academics. Classes today also encourage developing soft skills like teamwork and leadership. Loo has taken steps to reach out to her students and encourage them to pursue personal growth.

“In Legal Studies, students are constantly challenged to look at things from different perspectives and defend their stand in the classroom.

“It is my proudest moment to see them transforming from being shy and timid into confident individuals with perceptive analytical skills,” she said.

Ultimately, Loo hopes to equip her students with knowledge and life skills that will help them in their futures.

“Teaching is more than just imparting facts or knowledge. It’s about raising a new generation that will be equipped to take their productive place in the world. Teaching is about the positive transformation of young people’s lives – moulding their characters and instilling the right moral values.”

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Teacher-training crucial

Monday, November 13th, 2017

TEACHERS must take the initiative to improve themselves.

Just because a teacher’s English is good, doesn’t mean he or she can teach math and science effectively, SMK (P) Sri Aman principal Misliah Kulop points out.

Misliah, who implements the teacher mentor system in her school, says students saw a drop in their math and science results when the senior teachers retired or were transferred out.

“That’s why I put the mentor system in place. It’s to ensure that new teachers who come in are properly guided. They’re only given the lower forms until they’re confident and effective enough to take on the upper forms. We need to make sure our new teachers can delivery.

“Yes, they may have to use their own money and spare time to do it, but it’s for their own personal and career growth. I tell my teachers the same thing. Next year, I want to introduce a special prize to acknowledge teachers who take the initiative to attend courses to improve their skills.”

She says schools with BM and English classes for math and science need more teachers. It’s too taxing to expect the same teacher to teach and prepare questions in two languages. The terminologies are very different, she opines.

Teacher training, and greater collaboration between subject and language teachers, will determine the DLP’s success, Universiti Malaya (UM) Language and Literacy Education department head Assoc Prof Dr Juliana Othman feels.

“You can have a good science teacher, but if the students are weak in English, how’s he going help them understand the lesson? A science teacher who speaks English may not have the skill to teach the language aspects. You need a language teacher for that.

“So, in a class where the students aren’t proficient in English, the science teacher and English teacher must work together to prepare materials for the class,” she suggests.

The training of teachers must also be improved. Existing online courses are insufficient, she thinks.

The DLP and its predecessor the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) are essentially similar, she says. Some of the teachers trained under the PPSMI are now teaching DLP. In 2012, some 1,125 primary teachers were trained in UM, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia in collaboration with Teacher Education Institutes.

These teachers majored in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and minored in math or science.

“They’re now training their colleagues and teaching in the DLP. These teachers are proficient in English, and can teach math and science subjects. The ability to speak English alone isn’t enough. Teaching math and science subjects in English requires a specific approach and methodology. Otherwise, they won’t be able to teach the academic language aspects well.”

UM Faculty of Languages and Linguistics Assoc Prof Dr Jariah Mohd Jan stresses on the importance of parental involvement in creating an English proficient generation.

“DLP only gives students more exposure to English. You still need an ecosystem that supports it.

“Parents must participate. Help organise activities in schools. Be part of the programme. You cannot expect your child to improve just because he or she attends a DLP school.

“Those in rural areas may not be able to participate in their child’s academic journey the way urban parents can but that doesn’t mean they can’t play a role,” she suggests.

SMK (P) Sri Aman senior assistant Norliza Mustapa believes that parental participation is very important not only for DLP, but everything the school does.

Both parents and the school only want what’s best for the child but in the process, boundaries must be respected.

“A principal is given the mandate to run the school but we need both financial and moral support from the parents. We are lucky because the parents here are very involved. They’ve contributed generously to send our students for SPM and PT3 camps, and to help improve the infrastructure.”

Parent-Teacher Association vice chairman Leong Mun Yoong, whose three daughters attend SMK (P) Sri Aman, agrees.
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Holistic education: Evolving roles of teachers

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017
Educating the nation is a huge responsibility, and everyone is expected to contribute. FILE PIC

TEACHERS, lecturers, too, can never escape being blamed for everything that goes wrong with our students.

They are blamed for not doing enough if students do not perform well in examinations. When students play truant, teachers are not doing enough to liven up the class. And, when students fail to submit their assignments or homework, again, teachers are blamed. The list of blame is endless, and never once are students at fault.

I remember attending seminars in my early years of teaching that focused on our roles as educators. The messages are clear cut. Educators are responsible for developing the nation’s human resources. Often, the speakers make us feel guilty if we do not do our best for our students. And, over the years, we have diligently adapted and adopted different teaching approaches to ensure learning takes place.

With the changes in teaching approaches, new assessment rubrics come into place. Measuring students’ achievements has become more systematic, sophisticated and, at times, complicated. Assignments, too, get tougher to complete, much to the chagrin of students who take things lightly. For students who choose to look at things differently, all the challenges that come forth are confronted systematically.

Teachers and lecturers need not be reminded that helping our students is their No. 1 responsibility. Even if they have given their best, despite the heavy administrative and teaching workload, the public expects a lot more. That is why educators are at the centre of all controversies, and will continue to share the blame for weaknesses in our education system. As such, it is imperative that we continue to find new strategies to improve our vocation to benefit students.

Over the years, many teaching concepts have been experimented on and implemented. One of the most significant ones is the outcome-based education (OBE) philosophy introduced by the Higher Education Ministry in 2008. It is partly aimed at addressing the issue of unemployed graduates. Studies have shown that graduates lack communication skills and qualifications relevant to the job market.

OBE is an educational theory where each part of an educational system is based around goals or outcomes. By the end of the educational experience, each student should have achieved the goals. This method has been adopted in education systems around the world, at multiple levels. Australia and South Africa adopted OBE in the early 1990s. Malaysia implemented OBE in public schools in 2008.

Now, we are moving full gear towards implementing the integrated cumulative grade point average (iCGPA) assessment scheme, which measures students’ overall abilities. All public universities will implement the iCGPA assessment in their faculties, alongside the existing academic-driven CGPA system, in 2019.

Announcing this in July, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh stressed the importance of the policy — to groom students to become holistic graduates in accordance with the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The aim of the iCGPA is to produce graduates who not only excel in their fields of study (academically), but also equip them with soft skills (such as English proficiency), knowledge (of the world at large, the sciences and arts), values (ethics, patriotism and spirituality), leadership abilities (including the love of volunteerism), and the ability to think critically (accepting diverse views, innovation and problem-solving).

Through the iCGPA, students can have a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as continuously improve themselves based on that knowledge. For prospective employers, the iCGPA enables them to identify potential employees based on skills and more holistic measurements, and understand the continuous professional development needs of new graduates.

At the secondary school level, we are re-emphasising the creation of a scientific and innovative society, as envisaged under Vision 2020. One of the priorities identified in our national education is STEM.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects enable students to learn skills to gather and study information (investigative skills of science), evaluate and make sense of information (analytical skills of mathematics) and determine how the information can solve a problem (inventive skills of engineering) by using the technology available to them.

STEM allows students to draw reference from their experiences or contextual learning. By allowing students to construct their own meaning and understanding of an area of study, they will be able to strengthen their learning.


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Teachers Must Foster Unity Among Multiracial Students – Sultan Nazrin

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

TANJONG MALIM, Sept 5 (Bernama) — Teachers must continuously foster unity among their multiracial students although the country had achieved independence 60 years ago, said the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah.

He said teachers had a strong influence in promoting the spirit of ?muhibah\’ (goodwill) among students who came from multireligious, multiracial and multicultural backgrounds towards ensuring the country’s resilience and stability.

“The concept of education excellence is upheld by those who are fully talented, determined and industrious,” said Sultan Nazrin when launching the book, ‘Yahaya Ibrahim; Ikon Pendidikan Negara’ (Yahaya Ibrahim: National Education Icon) at Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah Campus, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), here, today.

The 153-page book on educationist Tan Sri Yahaya Ibrahim or better known as cikgu Yahaya was written by UPSI staff A. Halim Ali, Raja Ahmad Shalaby and Ahmad Janatul Firdaus.

The Sultan said outstanding and dedicated teachers were capable of firing up the spirit of learning among students, besides always working at ensuring their students achieved greater success than they had.

He said teachers who were always spoken well by their students were those who could win their students’ hearts.

The Sultan said the philosophy held by the Kirkby College-trained teachers during the pre- and post-independence period and the role they had played should be emulated and sustained by the current educators in the country.

“My mother Tuanku Permaisuri Bainun is a Kirkby College graduate. As a teacher, she had an open attitude, and accepted and respected her colleagues, friends and acquaintances, neighbours, parents and students from different races and religions.

“She had set a good example for her students to get to know the world better, and she helped my siblings and I not to have prejudices, and to forge friendships within a wider circle across religious, racial, cultural, political and national boundaries,” he shared.


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ICT tool for educators to embrace change.

Monday, September 4th, 2017

TEACHERS must be prepared to change and be digitally savvy to engage with their charges, once the plan for students to bring in their devices to school is implemented.

Education Ministry Teacher Education Division director Datuk Mahmud Karim said it was for this reason that the new module which focuses on equipping teachers with the technological skills was launched.

“The new module allows teachers to be more creative when designing their lesson plans so as to keep their students engaged,” he said after launching the Multimedia Interactive Tools for STEM Education on Monday.

It will enhance the learning process and help teachers embrace change, he reiterated.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had said last month that students in the country’s 10,000 schools would be allowed to bring certain mobile devices to class, from early next year. The ministry had mooted a policy to allow primary and secondary school students to bring electronic gadgets to class to help with the learning process, in line with the digital age.

The ministry, he said, had not as yet decided what kind of gadgets would be allowed.

Although targeted at those teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, Mahmud said he hoped all of Malaysia’s 430,000 teachers would make use of the free module which is not compulsory.

The first-of-its-kind tool would enhance the teachers’ ICT skills, he added.

Mahmud said teachers must embrace technology if they wanted to keep their students interested in the classroom.

He added that the module does not only focus on creating educational videos but also showed teachers how to incorporate basic ICT devices and tools into their lesson plans.

Earlier, when reading Education director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof’s speech, Mahmud said the Education Ministry hoped that teachers could spark an interest in STEM subjects by making their lessons more “digital-native friendly” for their charges.

“Using ICT in the classroom is the best alternative for a teacher to improve their teaching efficiency and have a real impact on their students.

“Learning how to use a computer is not enough for teachers to know how to incorporate technology into the teaching and facilitating process,” he said

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Plan to improve teacher education

Monday, September 4th, 2017
(From left) Special award recipients Anny Tang Siew Ung (Co-curriculum), Wan Izzati Wan Ahmad (Practical English -TESL) and Rector’s Award recipient Muhamad Naufal Badarudin are all smiles after the convocation. — Bernama

(From left) Special award recipients Anny Tang Siew Ung (Co-curriculum), Wan Izzati Wan Ahmad (Practical English -TESL) and Rector’s Award recipient Muhamad Naufal Badarudin are all smiles after the convocation. — Bernama

A TECHNICAL committee has been formed to develop a transformation action plan for the enhancement of Institutes of Teacher Education (IPG) nationwide.

To produce graduates of international standing, the committee will focus on improving the organisational system, IPG leadership, facilities, co-curriculum, quality of lecturers, and selection of trainee teachers; increasing research and innovation activities; and boosting the profile of IPG, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan said before presenting scrolls to IPG graduates at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) last Monday.

He reminded teachers to be patient and passionate as it was the only way to be successful educators.

Teachers of the 21st century must also be mentally strong, innovative, professional, disciplined, and matured in character and idealism, he said.

“Education is becoming more flexible, creative, challenging and complex. The conventional ‘chalk and talk’ teaching method isn’t as interesting anymore, nor is it working.

“We need dynamic and relevant methods that are in line with current developments.

“So teachers of today must be tech-savvy, open minded, knowledgeable in all education-related issues and policies, and devoted to life-long learning,” he said.

Earlier when speaking at the convocation, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid advised new teachers not to apply for transfers before being confirmed to the post.

Mahdzir said he received numerous requests from teachers who wanted to be relocated, even though they had been in the service for less than three years, according to a Bernama report.

Although sympathetic, he said greater priority should be given to the teachers who had been separated from their spouses for a longer period.

“Sometimes teachers who have been married for just a year, want to be transferred nearer to their loved ones. They need to have the three-year mindset, it’s easy for the ministry if we are all (thinking) the same.”

A total of 5,978 graduates received their degrees and diplomas at the eighth convocation of the institute, which was held from Aug 27 to 30.

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A teacher has many roles

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The role of the teacher has indeed evolved over the years.

NOW think about this seriously. In all honesty, how do you feel each time the term ‘21st century learning’ is mentioned?

Does it instantly get you into education transformation mode, all fired up, eager and rearing to go into classrooms to implement the latest strategies?

Does it make you go the other way perhaps, where you suppress a sigh and grunt inwardly, “Not again – not another new-fangled method of pedagogy with a fancy name which sounds vaguely familiar? Then there are other words that have been making the school education circuits in the past few years — words like “collaborative learning”, “learner centred classrooms”, “digital teaching” and “higher order thinking skills.”

In all likelihood, many of you are now so used to these terms that you can’t even recall a point in your teaching life when they did not exist. But perhaps there are still some who are grappling with it, wishing that at least some of it would fall off and that school life could go back to the way they used to know it. Even so, there is the simultaneous coming to terms with the truth, the slow realisation that no matter how hard you wish, the changes are not going to go away.

Among the modifications which have become integrally and almost unavoidably associated with 21st century learning is the redefining of the role of teacher.

One teacher who had just attended a seminar on the ongoing transformations in the education system had mixed feelings. “I found many parts relevant,” she said, “and I guess it’s true that our roles may have changed in many ways. But,” she added a little wryly, “I just couldn’t agree with the closing statements of one of the speakers. He suggested that with all the changes and redefining of roles, the label ‘teacher’ may not even be relevant anymore and that we should rebrand ourselves accordingly. He said we should call ourselves facilitators, not teachers.”

Another teacher who had also attended the seminar said: “So after having been trained as a teacher and after 25 years of teaching, I am now no longer to be known as teacher. I am now ‘facilitator’! I support most of the changes, but please don’t call me anything else but ‘Teacher’. It’s a teacher I started out as. And that’s how everyone knows me.”

She looked a little distraught — but in a strange way it was heartening to know that the label of “teacher” meant so much to her, and in a way the word “facilitator” never could.

The role of the teacher has indeed evolved over the years and in the 21st century learner centred classrooms, the emphasis on teachers to facilitate the learning experience for their students is even more pronounced than before. Teachers are also expected to facilitate the creation of productive learning environments where students can develop the skills they need for the 21st century global workplace.

Still, to many in the teaching service, the word “facilitator” doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it as the word “teacher”.

“We are teachers who facilitate learning,” quipped one teacher and that simple phrase hinted at the depth behind the word ‘teacher’. “We are all that is required of a facilitator of learning and more besides.”

It is true that teachers are now to be perceived more as “guides on the side” who provide direction and help students to take ownership of their own learning.

Teachers are also called on to provide opportunities for students to lead, collaborate, discuss and even assess themselves and their peers. Instead of direct instruction, teachers are now encouraged to use questioning to allow students to discover their own knowledge. Apart from managing the classroom environment and facilitating the students’ learning, the teacher of today needs to be keenly aware of the group dynamics in the classroom and make the necessary adjustments in the learning scene. At different points, the teacher also becomes the walking resource, the coach, prompter and assessor.

Are all these really new things? Many teachers would be quick to say “No”. I remember some of my own teachers in the 60s and 70s whose lessons had many of the essential features of 21st century learning. Nevertheless there were and probably still are many others whose teaching technique consisted mainly of standing in front of the class and delivering information or instruction for the whole period — definitely not the way to go in the 21st century.

Still, there is something to be said about a teacher who can stand in front of the class and impart knowledge in such a way that students are completely engaged and imaginations are made to soar above and beyond the classrooms. Although this form of “teaching” where the teacher is his only and own resource, may not be recommended in classrooms of today, there could be much value realised when the limiting of teaching resources causes minds to expand beyond what is tangible.

I remember sitting in classrooms where the teacher’s compelling personality and oral presentation skills made the pages of literature, and history come alive in our heads. We formed our own images and heard the voices of the past in our minds, made our own mental associations and devised personal methods to store information. Many of these things we were thus taught without the aid of external visuals or resources have lasted till this day. In fact, looking back I am not sure whether the presence of more resources would have enhanced or impeded our personal discoveries.

I think that even now, despite the changing needs of students of this century there has to be some place for the sage on the stage. If we consider differentiated needs in students’ learning, there could possibly be students who learn best by listening first, asking their own questions and internalising the content and skills later. There is a time for collaboration and cooperative learning but there also needs to be sufficient time for individual thinking and personal reflection. We are after all individuals first before we become groups.

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