There are answers to this question that are simple and some that require more deliberative levels of thought and consideration. Schooling today faces a myriad of challenges. There are two aims, however, that continue to prevail. These can be defined as the need for schools to:
- Develop in their students appropriate levels of skill and proficiency in numeracy, literacy and oracy.
- To recognise that education is fundamentally a relational experience.
While it’s imperative that schools aim to educate students in the traditional sense, it’s important to also recognise the need for a focus on teaching methods and learning environments.
Students today need to be exposed to a relevant breadth of curriculum experiences which also acknowledge that the way students absorb and retain information has changed and will continue to change. Lugging heavy textbooks around is no longer the only option for students. But the internet is not the sole source of knowledge either – much less a means to acquire wisdom!
Young people around the world are experiencing an education where knowledge comes from many different sources and mediums. In effect, education for students today is a relational experience. It is relative to what is going on around them. As a result, teaching methods have to and need to adapt.
The extensive work of Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley, principal researchers and authors of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition Conferences Research Study, published as For Whom The Boy Toils: The Primacy of Relationships in Boys’ Learning (2013) which involved some 35 schools in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, tellingly underlines that:
Successful teaching and learning do not occur in a mechanistic transmission of instruction and content from teacher to student, but rather in a feeling-charged relational medium created by teachers’ directive presence resulting in a climate in which students’ engagement, effort, exertion and ultimate mastery are mutually embraced arms. Relationship is not only conducive to those aims but necessarily precedes them: boys (and I daresay girls) learn from a teacher whom they hold in particular regard. (Page 195)
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