When we talk about change in education, apart from the system, curriculum, process and methodology, shouldn’t we be talking about the role of the teacher/educator a bit more?
Having finished a talk at the Innovation Explorer conference in Bulgaria and having the chance to meet some amazing people and share thoughts during a panel, the role of the educator became more and more central to the issue of change in education. I have written a few articles on educators and through my work as a Board Member of SoFIA (School of the Future International Academy), which focuses on education and administration models, it is evident that we need to find ways to upgrade and focus more on the role of the educator, as these people will be the real drivers for change. This applies to educators at all levels.
School systems, educational methodologies, entrance tests, curriculums, competency development and other areas are important, but the true driver for change is the educator. Policy makers can make any change they like, but at the end of the day it is the educator that will make it happen. Furthermore, many policy changes that relate to the incorporation of educational tools or new teaching methodologies like action based learning, virtual classrooms, on-line support and mentoring (to name a few), require changes from the side of the educator. These changes can be in areas of communication, delivery, facilitation, debriefing, case study methodology etc. etc. When was the last time a number of professors decided to change the way they teach? Change is – almost always – disorganizing as a pressure and trainers / educators are resistant. Why/ Because they fear change. They may be afraid of learning a different technique. They are afraid of getting out of their comfort zone. They are afraid to listen to others and be challenged by disruptive ideas. A recent study indicated that the average age of the professors in Greece was over 50(!)… Shouldn’t we therefore be looking more into this?
Many countries do not even have (nor require) a teaching or training certificate; a relevant University degree, or possibly a PhD gives you the permission to teach for life. Does the title (i.e. PhD or an MSc) automatically give you the skill to deliver? Does work experience give you the right to become a professional trainer? Shouldn’t training have its own requirements? Shouldn’t training require a specific set of skills? Of course, in some countries (but not all) there exist requirements like a teaching certificate or being present to pass a simple exam, but even in these cases, the requirements need to be fine - tuned due to the dramatic changes in technology that have also affected the classroom (virtual settings, digital material, cloud systems etc.).
Finally, in most cases around the world, there is no need for continuing professional development (CPD) apart from a possible requirement by the school or University itself (i.e. for private schools). This may be a ‘taboo’ subject, but I feel that the fact that educational institutions are moving away from the real world may be because of the educator.A bad curriculum can be taught by a brilliant trainer/educator and make it seem like the best in the world; a great curriculum will always look bad with a ‘poor’ educator.
BiteSize Thought by Dr. Constantine 'Dino' Kiritsis