The teacher or the learner and the curriculum that links the two for productive education (2)
The standard-based curriculum requires that at least four of the core competencies stated earlier are achieved during each lesson and teachers must be well versed in driving home their objectives per their lesson plans.
The learner-centred activity-based framework is a pedagogy that encourages the use of ICT as a tool for learning and assessment since the world today is all about technology and digital space. With that, teachers can only be facilitators in classrooms and will have to vary their teaching techniques by creating and simulating different situations to appreciate differences in children’s abilities.
Also, they need to give different tasks, support and deal with every process-based abilities, capacities and capabilities of learners. Eventually, learning becomes hands-on this time, involving physical activities which are experienced-based mode of learning; thus, Doing, Using and Interacting (DUI-mode). In addition, emphasis will always be placed on self-identity and good manners including values and beliefs, drawing in family dynamics, community and national identity, where emphasis will be placed on civic responsibilities, encompassing all about us and the global community.
Learners, for that matter, children, in this case are innocent treasures of our nation and must be handled with extra care until they mature to assume responsibility for what they want to do.
This is crucial, in particularly, at the formative stages of their lives. At this stage, everything that happens to them, before their eyes and even what they hear from adults goes to make or break them, potentially for the rest of their lives. In principle, this is the preparatory stage and children must be children at home, eat well and sleep well, and associate with the right adults in the right environment.
This includes school and at social grounds. They must not be reared in the wild as most families do and conscious efforts need to be taken to bring them up for real critical thinking. Traditionally, this is a collective responsibility and can be done well if seeking knowledge on how to handle children is taken seriously in this country.
If taken as a national challenge, it will support every effort to bring the needed change to ensure that our today’s young minds become agents of real change and not victims of the technological changes happening. For example, the environment created around a young mind is a platform for skills development and how it is consciously designed can be used to develop social problem identification and solving skills. To illustrate, the time learners use to explore local environment, even with families is a move towards developing some of the core competencies stipulated in the current curriculum.
The role of the parent
Parents are children’s first contact in a learning environment, henceforth, learning starts from home. Largely, how a child behaves and performs at school mostly depends on who they are at home. Unfortunately, some parents train children at home in a manner that is worse than they will even treat the second-class animals anywhere. This category of parents sadly, in their minds believes that it is only the cane, torture and abuse that can train a young mind.
Contrary, that can only be attributes to lack of knowledge or understanding of what a child is and how to handle a young person. It is the result of this that GES has put a blanket rule on such inhuman treatment in schools in Ghana. Surely, there should be no room for such ignorance on this and I strongly support the ban unequivocally.
Going forward, parents are supposed to have positive role to play in supporting, not only this paradigm shift but contributing directly in the implementation of the current curriculum at all level of our educational system. Interestingly, it is often to find parents rather being the problems of our progress in many directions. Strictly speaking, it is not an exaggeration to state that most houses in Ghana are like the jungle for children (The Animal kingdom).
Truly, 21st Century critical thinkers cannot be trained in the jungle but at real homes and schools. For instance, when parents hit a young mind to get a certain response or get work done in the house, it means the young mind is put on a course only to respond them after being hit and that form of interaction is processed in the mind and recorded in the subconscious mind. Owing to that, people can only get a response from such a child only by hitting them because that is how they are trained. The reverse is true, confirming that a civilised engagement with children using effective communication to send messages across facilitates critical thinking right from the house.
The teacher remains the most authoritative agent in learning at school in the mind of young children. Therefore, teachers need to see themselves as leaders and critical development partners in our society. To emphasise, teachers are the pinnacles of most learning taking place in young minds. Hence, their activities and contact with the minds must be strictly guided by ethical principles and policies set by the GES at all time.
For the success of the curriculum, unquestionably, inhuman treatment of children at all levels of our educational system must be eliminated. Teachers need to accept the fact that it does not help and will not help the current activity-based learning either. For example, each lesson is supposed to be preceded by a starter (maybe a song, fun activity) to energise the young minds and set them into learning spirits.
Definitely, a teacher with a cane or one who roars at everything in the classroom cannot get all learners’ involvement; meanwhile every child has the equal right to learn. The atmosphere within which learning should take place needs to be ideal for it. Children are supposed to be let out of their shells by the teacher to interact, brainstorm and take part in all manner of activities to develop the core competencies.
The examining process
For all these years, learning has been for the purpose of the all-must-pass examinations. Thus, intended to discriminate against the weak and less fortunate, and further frustrate the helpless ones. I have a big problem with discriminated systems and establishments that label young minds and discourage them from believing in themselves. Also, due to the unfair nature of such a system and per the loose state of our moral fabric, parents nowadays are forced to negotiate and connive with examiners and invigilators to cheat for their children or buy examination results for them for further studies. Accordingly, for the current creative pedagogy, assessment will be done in class at various stages and at different skills levels. Consequently, assessment as a learning process, of and for learning will eventually replace the one that is good only for the goose and not for the gander. Happily, the yet to be assessment should help us prepare to design tailor-made approaches for the less able ones too.
After all, all children have the right of access to education and no one should be left out and be told to go to hell. We in reality have had very restricted education access for the past decades without any results and mass education should be given the chance to get more people educated than ever.
On the whole, posterity will judge and compare ignorance, unemployment and productivity levels in the next coming years. To conclude, we better have a high population of educated people than a few geniuses who cannot help us as we have had in the last decades.
To be continued
The author is a consultant in university entrepreneurship and business development.