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Hopefully, the war against the deadly bugs has been won thanks to the scientists who discovered the vaccines.
And the world as we know it, appears to have regained a newish normal once again.
However, the situation is still precarious and it is of paramount importance that we don’t upset the equilibrium by pretending everything is fine when it’s not.
Only when the all-clear message is given can we attempt to relax, because every year a new virus no doubt, will manifest itself and next time round perhaps we will be more prepared.
Notwithstanding, the horrific suffering that people have to live with, it is often claimed that out of tragedy comes new strength and a new energy that has the latent potential to influence the process of change.
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The pandemic seems to have did just this. It gave time for teachers to experiment with a myriad of different learning activities, such as online teaching, Zoom meetings, and home schooling.
Being locked in created opportunity to work from home. In a way, it legitimised and validated innovation, giving freedom for teachers to try out new ideas, especially in technology.
Some of these approaches worked and some did not. Obviously what is required now, is an evaluation to gain further insight into the changes that have been made and why some were successful and others not.
Educational change is essential, especially if schools are going to elevate themselves to what will be required in Fourth Industrial Revolution (4I R).
However, change in itself is a highly complex matter that is often taken for granted. Change is a contradiction in terms, an absurdity, as it implies the necessity of moving forward and is meant to be progressive.
But, ironically, is stubborn and difficult to implement. Inasmuch as teaching and learning have remained linear, it appears that a paradigm shift will have to happen before a new way of teaching and learning can be realised.
To this end, up-skilling, on a linear and traditional platform, will only maintain the status quo. What is required is some upside down thinking.
Timetables, school bells, content, rote learning, exams, projects are all top-down approaches to learning and teaching.
They are based on traditional linear routines that have dominated teaching for nearly 100 years. Children deserve a lot more than this. Learning should be a fun activity and enjoyable.
There is little doubt that the exponential, growth of technology is creating a new techno environment which has had a positive global impact.
However, there are also extreme dangers connected with technology and for this reason, values must underpin the foundations of a new curriculum initiative, because in this new world children will be the most vulnerable.
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Values cannot be taught, but are imbued from role models.
This includes both at home and school. For many years now, schools have had to compensate society. Values have to become a shared activity.
No longer can school take on the responsibility for everything. Graduates of tomorrow are going to have creative skills, possess entrepreneurial skills, be adaptable, forward thinking, problem solvers, rather than problem creators.
They have to be fully competent in technology and aware of its innate, strengths and dangers. Above all, they are going to have to have strong communication, literacy and numeracy skills, which are crucial for research.
By the time these students graduate, they should be well on their way to being fully autonomous, so that will be able to move between jobs or create their own jobs with relative ease.
This is a very different curriculum that still exists in many schools today, where innovation is synonymous with simply adding another subject to the curriculum. Implemented correctly, action research will drive both the development and evaluation of the 4IR curriculum.
Action research is systemic and a powerful way to bring about educational change.
It is cyclic by nature and ongoing process that converts theory into practice. It is easy to implement, but for some reason has not really taken off in South Africa schools.
The only explanation, I believe, is that schools have become such busy places, that teachers have become overburdened with far too many activities.
This directly impacts on school communities adding further anxiety to already burnt out children, teachers, and parents.
What schools should be doing is reducing activities, not adding extra subjects to an already bloated timetable. A new 4IR curriculum must do away with the internal and external stress that places school communities under immense pressure.
It must be grounded on a well structured epistemology platform, that allows for plenty freedom to think creatively and induce constructive thinking.
Children should not be limited by a linear, single-minded of purpose, traditional curriculum.
This will only restrict creativity and undermine any form of authentic curriculum growth and development.