Rose Couture

Aspiring teacher. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward

Why Are we Stuck in 20th Century Learning?

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After reading Tom Whitby’s 20th vs. 21st Century Teaching last week, I posted his article on our ECMP355 Google+ page and my prof asked me the following questions that I started reflecting on: “Tom does a good job of differentiating. So, why are we so stuck in 20th century learning? Is it because we teach like we are taught? Is it too difficult to break out of the routine? Is 21st century more difficult? I’d love to hear your thoughts”.

While 20th century teaching is focused on teacher-centric learning, in the 21st century it sure seems like everybody is focused on student-centric learning, including myself. Although the schools are slowly changing to 21st century teaching and we are trying to teach new educators to go towards student-centric learning, many educators and institutions are still stuck in the teacher-centric learning era where students learn throughout lectures and whatever information teachers stuff them with, literally. As a university student who is taking a full load of classes, I can assure you that at least 3 out of my 5 classes are based on reading textbooks from cover to cover and listening to information the teacher is delivering to us, and we are expected to “memorize” this information and fully understand it. Not only is this boring, but I do not feel like I am actually learning anything. Yes, I remember some information, but I will probably forget all of it when the next semester will start and will be presented to similar classes where memorizing and brain cramming are dominant.

On the other hand, I have my education classes. I feel very privileged to be here in second year, as all my other classmates from the French Bac are in Quebec City. Because of this particular situation, I am required to take my education classes in the English program this year, which is amazing as it is a renewed education program. Every time I go to these ED classes, I feel inspired and I actually learn so much! Teachers present us some facts and general information and then we discuss it as a group, after some reflection. We are also asked to look at things on our own at home then post what we retained. By doing this, it allows us to do our own research and construct our own knowledge, and I personally find it easier to retain the information I found because I did it on my own. I would be curious to know how other students feel about those classes and if they like these education classes better than their complementary classes, as well as how their other professors teach them.

When I first started in the education program, when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I did not know there was anything such as teacher-centric learning or student-centric learning. I just thought, like probably the majority of first year students’ that I would learn how to teach/give information to the students in my classroom and expect them to retain the information to pass their exams. Oh, how wrong was I! I believe that some teachers are “stuck” into 20th century learning because that is how they were taught in school and because they are comfortable with the way they are doing things. It is definitely hard to part with a routine where you feel comfortable, but we need to learn how to get out of our comfort zones and how to take on new challenges every single day. We learn so much more this way. Of course teachers will always be needed, as students need someone to motivate, challenge and support them. Giving little information to the students in order to trigger their curiosity is the most powerful learning tool. A child who is curious will be eager to learn, will be eager to find things on their own. I do not think that 21st century learning is more difficult. Yes it might require even more research, time, effort and learning of our own, but in the end it will make us feel good about what we have accomplished and students will remember the teachers that had an impact on their lives and what they learnt from them. I might be wrong on certain things I mentioned in my post, but it is my opinion and I am still learning about being an educator, as it is a lifelong learning process. I would love to hear your thoughts on education and if you have some ideas or feedback to give me, go ahead!

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2 thoughts on “Why Are we Stuck in 20th Century Learning?

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