The article contains information on the best teaching philosophy to adopt in the year 2020.
This question has been begging for answers in this modern age ”How would we, as educators, prepare our students for a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world?” As technology has advanced, teaching ought to follow suit to impart knowledge effectively to technology-savvy generation. If the traditional methods that have worked in the past are adopted, we might be far behind the information age. This article explores the prospect of utilizing a new educational philosophy in the twenty-first-century classroom.
A popular educational philosophy we will be examine is that of Dewey. The aspired idea of Dewey is to explore the student’s fullest potential for growth through dialogue, creativity and freedom. With its focus on learning and innovation, which are of immeasurable significance in this modern century. Education is seen as an endless experiment where teachers are actively involved with students to secure the most complete and effective understanding possible at that specific time and in that specific context of learning. The desired vision of Dewey’s educational philosophy is to release the student’s fullest potential for growth through dialogue, creativity and freedom.
The Need for a New Educational Philosophy in the Twenty-first Century
A 21st-century problem deserves a 21st-century approach if we truly desire change and progress. It is of paramount importance to rethink the existing approaches as we are steadily double-clutching towards innovation-intensive activities in the New Economy. To stay relevant, what is needed is a set of twenty-first-century skills, which can be broadly categorized into learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and career skills. These skill sets are defined as follows:
Learning and innovation skills
- Creativity and innovation skills
- Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
- Communication and collaboration skills
Information, media and technology skills
- Information literacy
- Media literacy
- Literacy in information and communication technology
Life and career skills
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Initiative and self-direction
- Social and cross-cultural skills
- Productivity and accountability
- Leadership and responsibility
Creativity and innovation skills
- Demonstrating originality and inventiveness in work
- Developing, executing and relating new ideas to others
- Being open and receptive to new and diverse viewpoints
- Acting on imaginative ideas to make a substantial and valuable contribution to the domain in which the innovation happens
Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
- Applying sound reasoning in understanding
- Making complex choices and decisions
- Understanding the interconnections among systems
- Identifying and asking significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions
- Framing, analyzing and synthesizing information to solve problems and answer questions
Communication and collaboration skills
- Articulating thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively through speaking and writing
- Demonstrating abilities to work effectively with diverse teams
- Exercising flexibility and willingness to help make necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
- Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work
We can see the way the governments of the world are trying to enhance the way their citizens learn, think and perform the daily activities of life. The emphasis is now on digitalized methods as against the lifelong mundane traditional approaches. This calls for a change in the teaching philosophies too. An example is the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Thinking Schools, Learning Nation initiative, which strives to train thinking students and adults who can meet the needs of this century. Also, the Group of Eight nations envision nurturing “global innovation societies” through the greater integration of education, research and innovation in educational institutions such that learners will actively implement knowledge and not just receive information and facts (G8 Summit, 2006).
Great scholars opinion on the need for new educational approaches.
Admittedly, the swiftly growing economy joined with strong globalization cries for renewed educational approaches, structures and cultures, and the role of teachers is critical to the success of this change (Liew, 2005).
Educational change and its growth still principally depend on teachers’ response and planning—that is, what the teachers do and think (Fullan, 2001).
For students, the strong emphasis on grades and assessment has also led to fragmentation in learning (Miller, 2007), which makes the inculcation of twenty-first-century skills difficult. The obsession with examinations, tests and assignments in the current systems of education around the world has resulted in shallow thinking and ineffective learning in classrooms.
Students in general merely memorize notes and textbooks without trying to make sense of the material. Many students regard academic learning as irrelevant since they are not able to connect what they learn in school to their everyday experiences (Garlikov, 2000).
What is expected of 21st Century Teachers
The principal purpose for educators in the New Economy is to nurture young men and women who can do new things and not solely replicating “tried and tested” strategies of what other generations of learners have done. Undoubtedly, in implementing the teaching of twenty-first-century skills in schools, governments face many challenges.
To furnish students with twenty-first-century skills, schools must become significant learning environments and not just providers of dysfunctional learning. There must be connections made between the skills teachers are teaching and the issues students confront in the real world.
Learning is meant to be a process of knowledge creation and self-realization, not a predefined tool. To equip students for the future workplace, there is a need for teachers to adopt a new mindset and design a dynamic curriculum that caters to students’ learning needs. Teachers should also align classroom discussions with real-world challenges rather than dispensing model answers and standard responses to students. In summary, schools need to stop offering “systems of learning so completely at odds with the way people function in the outside world”
Teaching with Educational Philosophy
Martin in 1992 asked a question that every true teacher needs to answer. The question goes thus- Are educators typically removing education from life and teaching students to be “spectators” rather than “active agents” in a dynamic world of events? Or can we produce an interactive environment where students are opened to different thinking dispositions and various points of view so that they can make sense of the complexities of world affairs? A definite and appropriate framework is needed in advancing critical inquiry that entails methodical questioning and thoughtful assessment. According to the American Philosophical Association in 2001, the pursuit of educational philosophy in classroom teaching allows teachers to develop their capacity “for self-expression and reflection, for exchange and debate of ideas and for dealing with problems for which there are no easy answers. This educational philosophy will equip teachers to recognize problems and matters related to the imperative questions in daily teaching as well as to strengthen their educational beliefs.
Revisiting John Dewey’s Educational Philosophy.
John Dewey,(1859–1952) is the father of experiential education and founder of the progressive education movement. He gained prominence as an educational reformist in his times with works such as The School and Society (1899), The Child and the Curriculum (1902), How We Think (1910), Democracy and Education (1916) and Experience and Education (1938). Dewey’s educational philosophy is a model shift from the traditionalist curriculum-centred and structured approach, in which the school system “has always been a function of the prevailing type of organization of social life” Syllabus-bounded and teacher-centred, students gradually lose the freedom to discover and their interest in learning. If schools desire to become agencies of social reform, there must be a reconstruction of their educational philosophy to customize it to the times. He views human beings or communities as complex natural organisms that have to passively adapt or actively transform the environment for their survival. He believes people are social animals who will learn through active interplay with others and the tangent of learning will increase as these activities become more meaningful.
The central concept in Dewey’s philosophy of education is experience and growth. Learners need to constantly and consistently reconstruct their experiences to make sense of future events. Diversity, rather than homogeneity, of opinions, thoughts and perspectives are celebrated. It is therefore vital for an educator to adopt “theory of experience” and tailor discussions to take into account students’ prior experiences, opening up opportunities for further learning and thereby expanding students’ understanding of their contributions in society.
Dewey’s Take On School, Mind and Teaching
Dewey sees the school as a primarily social institution and a form of community life where education is a process of living for students. Active participation and the acceptance of pluralistic voices in class will evoke greater social realization among students. Dewey distinguishes between “individual minds” and “just individuals with minds”, The just individuals with minds are more passive learners, who conform to the existing social values without engaging in critical inquiry. The individual minds group, on the other hand, allows thinking to become the instrument for solving real-world problems, anchoring this learning or discussion in the community where the individual and his or her society should be analyzed as a whole. This practical philosophical approach will create a society of free individuals whose inclination to think autonomously will bloom. Teaching in the classroom is not to do what the student or teacher likes, but it should include critique and evaluation. A Deweyan teacher may be an English language teacher in a primary school who guides his or her students in a group project on environmental protection. The teacher could introduce the project topic using videos, newspaper articles and songs on the environment, or even invite representatives from environmental groups to speak to students. Students are encouraged to take the initiative in researching into the topic and presenting the project in creative ways, mediated by the teacher acting as a resource facilitator. Democratic processes are maintained throughout with students working collaboratively in groups, sharing ideas and resolving differences through dialogue and with guidance from the teacher.
The Importance of Dewey’s Philosophy
With its focus on learning and innovation, which are of great pertinence in this new century, Dewey’s educational philosophy provides teachers with some requisite intelligence of how to guide learners through the complexities of issues by solving real-world problems. The critical inquiry process in solving such problems allows students to deal with current issues and possibilities in handling tasks which are expected by future employers. Dewey’s perspective on education has inspired teachers to focus more on the quality of student interaction and its dynamics, producing new teaching methods such as problem-based learning, cooperative learning and the use of case studies. Teachers become more aware of their role as facilitators, who stimulate new discussions in class rather than imposing ideas on learners. Critical thinking is promoted, which entails engaging in reflective thought and adopting an open mind. Students are encouraged to raise questions, examine critical issues and ponder solutions in the learning process. The emphasis on learners’ critical thinking in teaching will also correct teachers’ indiscriminate use of technological tools such as computer presentations, blogs, podcasts, Web sites, forums, tag-boards and wikis as substitutes for classroom teaching.
The Review and adoption of Dewey’s Educational Philosophy
The review of Dewey’s educational philosophy regarding the needs of the New Economy has made us abler educators not just in terms of the design of instruction but also concerning the recommenced emphasis on intellectual development and higher-order thinking, which have been neglected in our current content-focused curriculum and assessment systems. Conclusively, as educators, we should not be so much interested in how well we have taught and delivered the subject matter but in nurturing individuals with thinking minds in the process of learning.
A new educational philosophy for the twenty-first-century classroom is produced when we synergise Dewey’s philosophical acumen and the postmodern views in classroom teaching and learning. By applying this philosophy, we are accepting that many issues require ongoing discussions, being irked by complexities that can never be fully fixed.
Although this new integrated educational philosophy encourages deeper questioning and active discussion in our classrooms, the inquiry must be approached pragmatically. Teachers have a significant role to play in systematically mediating these discussions to give students some sense of direction with salient points provided for their consideration. Specific learning materials should also be provided at appropriate moments to support students in their learning.
In the new century, where knowledge is seen as a new form of capital, schools and educators have to rethink the purpose and value of the school experience. The knowledge worker will have to make radical changes and change fast to meet the demands of the knowledge economy. Schools need to revisit their educational philosophy and promote critical inquiry as part of this philosophy to deepen students’ understanding of the subject matter and enhance their capacity for independent and purposeful learning.