Not vessels to be filled but fires to be kindled

Education is the bedrock of any country.

Therefore, efforts to further improve and solidify this foundation must be a constant activity.

The current effort to transform the pedagogy is one such activity that is currently being pursued and one that must be carefully introduced.

The purpose of education in Bhutan is changing and therefore the realisation that the pedagogy has to be changed. We are aware that the goal of education is not simply to produce a workforce inundated with large volumes of facts but a population that is equipped with the right tools to continuously educate themselves.

Therefore, the pedagogy is changing to one that will become more horizontal in terms of information flow and participation, rather than a lecture based top-down approach.

It is important that no matter what personality, or background, a student has, that he or she is equally involved in the classroom through customised measures. And that involvement cannot simply remain as vessels to be filled, but fires to be kindled.

But it is important that this new pedagogy is introduced at a pace that the students can understand. It mustn’t be sudden.

It is also important to ensure that the environment outside the classroom also changes. For instance, the colleges of education that are producing teachers need to be aligned with the education ministry on this change. It seems they are currently not.

It is so important that the teachers who will be behind the wheel on this transition, understand how and why this change needs to occur. We can’t risk failure as a result of lack of coordination or incompatibility.

Some have asked that the curriculum or syllabus be reviewed to fit the new pedagogy. These are urgent issues that need to be sorted out. Teachers need to be comfortable and convinced that everything is moving in the same direction.

Large classrooms cannot be avoided which means there may have to be a rethink on the curriculum and decreasing the volume of information, and concentrating on less but with more exercises. This could increase the level of understanding among students and the quality of education as a result.

In all, the transition is inevitable and most welcome for those of us who got through on memorisation. It is a comfort to know that our children, and future generations will be graduating with better tools to analyse, question, and find solutions to situations and problems.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    There is nothing denying the fact that the teaching methods in education always demand some kind of periodic overhaul. But still, I completely don’t agree with the last two paragraphs of this editorial post.

    Our classrooms are gaining in size and colleges and schools are always in need of increasing the number of intakes for different courses and classes to meet the demands. But are they ready with a fresh stock of new supply? Decreasing the volume of information can also be considered as opting for less volume and yet highly concentrated knowledge. And here, it is suggested that students be given more exercises for better understanding and problem solving skills.

    For that to be a successful method or a new pedagogy to be considered in education, especially in college and university education; we expect our teachers to be the high volume consumers of knowledge in more than one fields. So we want the teachers to learn and develop a vast knowledge base so that they can be in a better position to transfer a lot more to the students in a quick time and also in very effective way. They not only transfer methods, but also ways to the methods.

    What we can’t overlook here is the fact that if today’s students don’t have such teachers teaching them in great details when it comes to the theories and concepts; these students will find an uphill task becoming the volume consumers in education when they will take up teaching. It’s much easier to train someone for methods or change of it than giving one the volume to research upon so that precision may be searched to be developed as a new curriculum and that in turn results in new methods to be searched.

    If we want to get rid of our age old examination systems where maximum priority and rewards are earmarked for skills that are purely memory based; we definitely want our question papers to gain a bit more volume and depths in question forming. We want assignments to test our students on their decision making skills for problem identifying, analysing and formulating simple strategies for problem solving.

    Today, we all know what to do in a crisis or problem situation. We know to solve our problems. What we usually don’t understand totally is why we do what we do for problem solving apart from mugging up the rules and laws in place. If that all important ‘why’ can’t be challenged for better alternatives especially in education, no new pedagogy will drop from the sky for sure. This is where we need the new fire to be kindled. If we want volume to shrink for quality, the depths in different field of studies must multiply in a process.

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