Once, students attended school to acquire knowledge. The purpose of education began at the basic level of understanding and gaining exposure to concepts we otherwise had no way to access. But the world has changed. These days, we have more information at our fingertips than any previous generation. Any question can be answered. Any fact can be obtained. We hold the knowledge of the world in a device that fits in our back pockets. And as the accessibility of information has changed, so has the purpose of education and the way teachers teach.
It is no longer the primary responsibility of the teacher to share information
More and more the preferred role of the teacher is a facilitator role, as students are asked to apply and synthesize the information that is so readily available.
Bloom’s taxonomy, a popular model for classifying learning objectives, positions remembering and understanding at the bottom of the learning pyramid. They are the most basic tasks, but historically they have been focused on heavily. This is because the higher levels of the pyramid — applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating — could not be considered until the basic knowledge was attained. But now that the knowledge is readily available, and now that easy-to-understand resources are plentiful, this is no longer the case.
Instead of helping students remember and understand, the teacher is able to put students into the role of active participants in their learning. By asking students to reach for higher levels of the taxonomy, they are not only gaining a deeper understanding of the concepts but making it more applicable to their lives. No more is learning “accomplished” when a student can recite a rote memorization list. Instead, students are asked to provide thoughtful, original feedback, and expand upon the information available to them.
Higher level thinking requires a shift in the way teachers teach, and in the way students learn
Teachers should encourage a variety of activities that promote a deeper look into the topics at hand. For example, instead of memorizing a series of dates and events during a history unit, a modern teacher will ask students to make use of that information. They may ask students to roleplay specific events as if they were the participants, to write a short story about how the modern world would be different if a historical event did not take place, or to create and defend a new set of rules that build upon those presented in the unit.
Teachers are challenged to differentiate more
As students delve more deeply into topics, they’re more likely to be presented with opportunities to express their creativity. This means structuring lessons in a way that allows them to play to their strengths, while also challenging them. Teachers should encourage their students to develop a growth mindset, and view these challenges as learning opportunities rather than failures. No more is it about a simple “right or wrong” response.
Students are encouraged to express themselves more creatively
As teachers step into the role of facilitator, students are asked to be active participants in their learning in more creative ways. As a result, they are able to feel more invested in the material. Often, lessons that extend beyond simple knowledge acquisition ask students to apply the concepts to their world, meaning they can see an immediate connection between what they are learning and their day-to-day life.
As a facilitator, you no longer need to worry about standing up and delivering a lecture your students won’t listen to or absorb. Instead, your students become active participants in the conversation, allowing them to become more well-rounded learners and encouraging them to make higher-level thinking a daily, lifelong habit.
For more information, please contact us at The Tenney School.