Holistic education: Evolving roles of teachers

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.

By WAN NORLIZA WAN MUSTAPHA.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/11/300191/holistic-education-evolving-roles-teachers

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