In a recent article in the NY Times, Fred M. Hechinger writes:
“One major reason, he believes, is that while a great deal is expected of the schools, from teaching the fundamentals to creating civilized adults, ”whether schools are satisfying places for the students who attend them is largely irrelevant or of only passing concern.” The message teachers get from outside the school is ”back-to-basics and more discipline,” a message that does little to stimulate imaginative planning by teachers and leaves even less room for change. Most teachers, in their training, read about some of the more interesting alternative ways of teaching, such as those advocated by John Dewey and by other reformers since his time; but Mr. Goodlad found that in their classrooms teachers have little or no opportunity to test such ideas.”: (Via About Education – New Study Finds Lack Of Creativity – NYTimes.com)
It’s fair to agree that “teachers have little or no opportunity to test such ideas” given that this a summary of data across a seven-year study.
In my engagement with teachers (in India) the response has been that there is no time to plan anything interesting. Which does beget the question, how is an average teacher’s time spent? Do classroom hours and administrative work completely consume a teacher’s time?
If true, there needs to be a serious rethink about how teachers spend their time; identifying activities that are unproductive and either automating them or outsourcing them. Especially those that are rote, predictable or mechanical.
Further, parents in specific and society in general, has to refrain from telling the teachers what to do. And if we must, we have to enable and encourage them to test imaginative and alternative means in the classroom. For the more we rely on the curriculum as the holy grail, the lesser we are enabling the students for the future that will make demands of them that we cannot even imagine.
Enabling a teacher from any quarter, has no downsides.