It would be great if there was no such thing as exams, but for those of us in the formal school system, they are a reality that we have to deal with every year, possibly several times. So... how do we make the most of them, so that they serve some educational purpose? And how do we as teachers really help our students to do well, given that so much judgment about them is based on exam performance?
‘If today we were to meet with Martians, freshly arrived on planet Earth and looking for tips on designing their own education system, what would we suggest?’
The Google engineers and the world’s best linguists had worked extremely hard to develop a new version of Translate that could accommodate the weird Martian language. But they had accomplished the seemingly impossible task, and it had become possible to communicate effortlessly….
We all know why we are teachers and our schools have a very clear Vision and Mission which we all accept. We would like our students to leave school as values-driven, empowered young people, prepared for tertiary studies, and ready to take up a leadership role in society. By working with our students, we hope to transform not only their lives, but also our society.
So, we all know why we do what we do in the classroom. Isn’t it obvious? It is what we do in the classroom that brings about the transformation we desire in society. Or is it so obvious? Do we have a theory of change?
What is the ONE concept in your subject that students really need to know? Do you teach this concept? How? When? Do you continually link other ideas to this one? We can get stuck in delivering a whole lot of content which, to students, all seems to be of the same importance, and so they end up being confused, bored and swamped with too much information.
One of the fundamentals in education is asking questions and receiving answers. Often the answers can end up being of the GWIT (Guess what I’m thinking) kind, and can be useful for checking superficial understanding. But if we want to promote thinking and deeper learning, we need to ask more searching questions, by raising debatable issues and introducing problems which might not even have answers.