HOW I LEARNED TO STOP BEING SUPERFICIAL

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I recently attended a seminar held by Dünya Education by the name of ‘Education Matters’. It was enough to make me feel like I should start blogging – better late than never –  about current and future education. The people I listened to were really worth listening to and inspiring – so here we go.

At the beginning of each school year, we teachers come together and try to make students aware of the language they learn. We try to give them statistics about the number of new words they will be learning throughout the year and to what extent they will be able to use the skills to use English in their daily lives. We write all the data on a piece of paper and ask them stick it in their notebooks. And also, sometimes we ask a student from an upper class to visit their friends in a lower grade. They talk about the progress they have made in a year.

Then we look at the curriculum and try to choose as many useful and user-friendly tools as possible to encourage the students and to make the language live in class. We believe that if we integrate technology to our lessons, it will attract students’ attention and they will learn better. At the end of the process we feel satisfied when we see their level of English.

After listening to Evrim Kuran, I don’t think that it is enough. It is superficial. I realized that I can do more to get them ready for tomorrow’s world.

When I listened to Evrim Kuran in the seminar who talked about generational systems, now I think that teachers use superficial ways to teach. What I took from her speech is simply this. The world of education is changing. If we are not aware of this change, we cannot set a suitable way of teaching to make our students ready for the future.

Evrim Kuran talked about the 4 generations known as, Baby Boomers Gen. (teacher centered), X Gen. (curriculum centered), Y Gen. always questioning why, why, why? (student centered) and finally Z Gen who were and are born in (2000-2018). As I belong to the X Gen, like many other teachers I also put the importance on curriculum. Do I achieve my goals? Yes, but is it enough?

When they finish school and apply for a job, they are not being accepted because they don’t have the necessary competencies to get the job. Why? We teach them how to speak English fluently, we try to create an environment in which they can use the language better, we give them opportunities to present their projects in front of an audience. They have self-confidence. What else should we do?

We should be aware of the fact that every five years the necessary competencies are changing. Isn’t it a rapid change? So we need to update our methods every five years.

Until 2015 Active Listening and Quality Control were important. But they aren’t anymore. They have been taken out of the list and replaced with Emotional Quotient and Cognitive Flexibility which are the abilities that they need to have in 2020. (The World Economic Forum) Emotional Quotient is a well-known term whereas Cognitive Flexibility is a new one for me. It has been described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. (Scott, WA 1962) It sounds like a psychological term but it is also implemented in education. In many subjects it can be used as posing a single question in a number of ways. Students discuss a problem with their teacher and amongst themselves, they also ask questions. In forming these questions, students are actively brainstorming and recalling prior knowledge. At this point, the teacher provides specific conditions of the issue discussed, and students must adapt their prior knowledge, along with that of their peers, to generate a solution. So they realize that there are many different ways to come up with a solution. We partially used this method with fifth graders while we were flipping our classes. But it can be used in each grade with different materials continuously.

In order to be an efficient teacher in the world of Y & Z Generations we have to learn how to unlearn most of what we know. I will start from myself and do my best to generate useful materials, to help my students be capable of looking at the problems from different perspectives and using different abilities to solve a problem. Till when? Till 2025.

Special thanks to Evrim Kuran and Dünya Education for inspiration…

Burcu Tuncalı
Lifelong Learner – www.share4education.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_flexibility
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seyi-fabode/you-must-learn-how-to-unl_b_8617796.html