Monday, October 10, 2011

The Relevance of Teaching Strategies in the 21st Century

Admittance to a good university or college is not what it used to be. The benchmark to get accepted into post-secondary institutions keeps rising and the pressure to get the high marks that meet the pre-requisites are felt on the parents and students alike. Naturally, parents and students today are well aware of the highly competitive nature of getting into their institution of choice in order to receive a good education and eventually embark on a good career. But what really defines a good education these days? Is it based on the reputation of the school or is it based on how the school's teachers implement their teaching strategies?

Good education includes many different variables such as a proper learning environment, equipment and teaching tools that can enhance or stimulate the learner and one of the most important but often ignored are good teachers. Of course a teacher should be qualified to teach their given subject and to implement a wide range of teaching strategies but that does not define a good teacher. A good teacher knows how to communicate and pass on knowledge and skills to their students. These teachers usually have an honest rapport with their students and know how to challenge them. They know how and when to utilize certain teaching strategies to compliment each class and have good classroom management. Such traits are instinctively recognized amongst teachers but this is not the same case for parents, especially high school parents.

When it comes to recognizing a good teacher, parent unfortunately fall short because their emphasis seems solely on the mark their child receives and not on the process that resulted in that grade. In my many years of teaching in a high school, the principal deciding factor for parents is to decide whether or not a teacher is doing his/her job is their child's grade. The reality is that not every child will become a doctor, engineer or lawyer but despite this many parents are quick to put the teacher at fault for their child's poor performance. Often, those parents who choose to think otherwise usually direct their hostility towards the teacher thus debilitating any possible means of working together with the teacher for the betterment of their child. I believe that their judgment is clouded with the intention to get their child into college and not on the actual skills and learning development of their child.

It seems that some parents today would like teaching today to mainly focus on the "fun" in learning and not the process or skills required. Failure is not an option and neither is a mark that honestly represents a student's current assessment. Today teachers need only to keep a high class average and basically dilute the learning process or skills that are to be developed. But any good educator or sensible parent will tell you that learning encompasses many other variables other than fun such as skills in being able to communicate, create, face challenges and problem solve.

Let's keep in mind that not all A's are equal and they are based on different standards according to the grade, the course, its curriculum, and teacher's means of assessment. These parents should focus on the process of how their son or daughter is being taught and evaluated. If their son or daughter is not meeting the expectations, work together with the teacher to help their child to achieve their academic potential. A student with good teachers will to have the required skills and knowledge to successful thrive and compete with their fellow students in a post-secondary educational institute.

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