The Recent years have been a tussle ground for educators and students. Many condemn the traditional practices of teaching and imparting knowledge for being unjust and discriminative in nature. This is also the reason why modern schools and universities are opting for a new approach, particularly to promote the inherent talents of the students.
A popular video that’s making rounds on social media and has received millions of shares is the story about a fish and a monkey. The story explains how a fish would spend its whole life regretting that it couldn’t learn how to climb a tree while the monkey enjoys the privilege by nature. This is a typical example of the traditional education system that measures potential and improvements for everyone without considering their innate talents. Of course, the fish cannot climb the tree, so teaching it to do so and measuring the success of the education won’t make any difference.
Why am I telling you this story? Well, this is the stern approach followed by our current education system. Although there’s no doubt to it that basic education needs to be common to everyone by right, it does not mean, however, that the same approach could be applied throughout the curriculum.
The traditional approach to education
To identify the flaws in the traditional education system it is necessary to understand how it works.
Usually, when a student is enrolled in a curriculum, he/she receives a set of predetermined lessons. Initially, during the young age, the students need to learn basic skills such as reading, writing, and reciting the languages. However, as they grow up, they are still offered education in a much similar way. And to add to it, tests and examinations are also commonly conducted. In other words, a student who might be good at higher-order mathematics would still have to contemplate other subjects such as history and science.
The problem here is that the students cannot perform as expected (according to the set bars by the education committee). As a result, the student would either score lower marks or would fail in tests, which hampers the morale. This would subsequently also decline his/her performance in subjects where he/she has the skills to perform and excel.
The modern approach to education
Thankfully, some schools are now stepping forward with innovative methods that help promote the skills where a student can perform best. Most of these ideas include metacognitive strategies at the core of the curriculum. Teachers and educators are trained to identify individual talents and push the students to pursue those, along with providing them the necessary assistance. For example, at Accelerated Learning Laboratory Tucson charter school, metacognitive strategies help students develop self-regulative skills and opt for self-directed learning. In the process, the students, along with their teachers, make strides in the direction of subjects that intrigue them, or at least, help them perform better. It is evident that it’s not only the teachers and educators, but also the students who have to actively participate in the innate learning process.
At this note, it is necessary to learn how metacognitive learning impacts the overall development of the students.
- Metacognitive Learning at the Center of Modern Education
If you look up for the meaning of metacognition on Google you’ll be surprised by the answers you’ll get. The word is derived from the root word ‘meta’, which means the next level or broader sense. Adding this root word before ‘cognition’, which means learning translates to a higher level of learning process. In short, metacognitive learning enables students as well as the teachers to first assess their own learning and cognitive skill. After all, when one is aware about his/her talents and knowledge, he/she can better assess the need for learning new skills.
To put this into perspective consider an example. A farmer knows best about the crops that he/she or the forefathers have been cultivating, in that particular region. However, when approached for a new type of crop whether to be grown in the same climatic conditions or other, it would be necessary to learn about proper cultivating techniques needed. Otherwise, the crop might not develop properly, or the harvest may be destroyed. Whatever be the case, it is evident that albeit having the basic knowledge about farming and cultivation, the farmer still has to learn new skills. But, it is only possible if he/she can identify the need for new learning and find proper resources to help with the subject at hand.
The same holds true with metacognitive learning. The students are encouraged to know about what they know and understand what they need to learn more to excel at new challenges.
The way forward…
Experts from various universities worldwide explain that shifting from the traditional teaching methods to the newer, more effective ones is not that easy. After all, it is not just one student or school or even just one region that is concerned. The rising problems with employment such as underemployment and unemployment are a matter of serious concern which not only affects the individual but also a nation’s progress. And it all begins with the education that is being offered to the students. For present-day students to be the leaders of tomorrow, it is necessary to help them understand what they are best at and differentiate their learning from others. At the same time, it is necessary for the educational institutes to be able to identify individual talents and provide necessary resources for effective learning.
What parents can do?
Notably, the cognitive learning process begins at a very young age, and it is, therefore, the responsibility of the parents to offer their children a chance for better learning. Not just the fancy textbooks or chic schools, but also the curriculum plays a significant role in the complete learning process. Parents should analyze the curriculums that a school has to offer and how it can help their children develop the analytical skills needed. As a matter of fact, parents themselves need to first be aware of such practices that can help their children think rationally and make cognitive decisions. Attending educational seminars and meets could be a great way to familiarize with such curriculums. Apart from this, parents should also regularly consult with their child’s teachers and mentors which would help them understand the key pain points and work out their way to resolve the problems. After all, communication has always been the way to resolve issues.
What teachers can do?
While the students and their parents can try to stay updated with the updates in the curriculum, it is up to the teachers to design the curriculum. That being said, it is of course not an easy task, and teachers also require to put in their best efforts in organizing a curriculum for a personalized experience to the students. Teachers need to be more flexible with their approach and shouldn’t hesitate to modify the curriculum as and when needed. If one curriculum doesn’t seem to be proving beneficial for all, identifying the key elements should be the first priority, followed by opting for an alternative strategy. For example, if a test format seems to be difficult for the majority of the class, it is best to revise and frame a new one that should simplify the learning and assessment process.
Despite the shortcomings in the traditional education system, overhauling it as such is neither the solution nor that easy. Taking one step at a time and assessing the outcomes for a better future for the students is the best way forward at the moment.