The teaching profession is in a complete limbo……………! Why? There are many reasons for it. Some of them, as I see and experience in India, are:
1. It is a poorly paid profession. It is almost looked down upon, as non-existence. In our societies, where power and authority means money, teachers are at the bottom!
2. It is taken up by those who have no other options elsewhere in industries, very few are genuinely passionate about teaching (and are prepared to learn and upgrade their profession).
3. Quite a few teaching positions lie vacant due to various sorts of political and administrative meddling, therefore ad hoc teachers are hired on temporary basis; they can be hired or fired at will, and hence mostly filled with people (mostly women, unfortunately), who may treat this profession not as a hard core carrier option.
So what is the future of schools and colleges?
Wither chalk and talk? Wither brick and stick?
There is hope because real teachers will teach and genuine students will learn!
But now it must be taken into account that the process of teaching- learning is changing rapidly in an era in which technology is changing everything.
For school levels – almost all sorts of topics are available on the internet. School curriculum designers can easily build a curriculum out of these internet resources for free! Many new technologies and tools (interactive animations, games, and problems) can absolutely help to make learning more engaging and more productive.
For college levels – it may be a little esoteric, but great content from various US colleges are available on the net (for example OCW from MIT, etc.) and again a curriculum designer can pick and choose what is available and build a curricula!
A teacher can be viewed as a facilitator or a ‘filtrator’ (!!) who provides guided learning, and strategies for learning to be a skilled and competent professional.
Content and learning on the internet is bringing learners, teachers, and experts all together in a virtual learning space. And the good thing is that everyone is benefitting!
It is changing the way we teach and learn.
I imagine the future schools and colleges to be like this:
1. Students accessing a lesson online (anywhere, even in a classroom). An admin or a teacher is monitoring everyone remotely, not necessarily in the class room. They provide adaptive learning components – to boost slow learners, and enhance competent learners.
2. Teacher or a facilitator comes in only during tutorials, problem solving sessions, lab work or for guiding a project. Teacher can assess a student’s progress and accomplishments and provide feedbacks.
3. School and college time is spent on other human social aspects such as elocutions/debates, some internal competitions, networking, sports, discipline, some social activities such as festivals, proms, etc.
4. Course content accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet can self-educate him/herself, appear for a standard exams and get a certification and a qualification!
This hopefully will bring down fees, and make education accessible to all………….that would indeed be a paradigm shift in education, and social change. There will not be any expensive and snooty college degrees for anyone – all will be equal (and in a way truly democratic)
I look forward to this future……………..
(Aside: when I see on the evening news about young children ravaged by war and displaced in refugee camps, the future schools and colleges that I mention here, is the only way to give them a chance in their lives!!)