Place your two arms straight out in front of you. Imagine the left hand represents teachers; the right hand represents students.
Between them, there’s a big gap. It’s where the transfer of knowledge takes place. Left to right.
Now clasp your hands together and close the gap. This is the way teaching and learning should be; teachers and students together, collaborating. So how do we get to this ideal environment?
The learning gap
One of the major obstacles to overcome is what we refer to as traditional teaching. Traditional teaching is based on a method of knowledge-transfer utilised over centuries … the Elders teaching those people soon to take their place while sitting around the camp-fire. It doesn’t recognise nor acknowledge the profound changes in learning processes embodied in inquiry-based learning and learner autonomy. Traditional teaching is often perpetuated by teachers who have never taken an interest into how learning has changed, or those who have had difficulties adapting to new methods.
The disparity between what traditional teaching offers and what students actually need is the source of a major learning gap. How do we eliminate the gap? We start by eliminating teaching to leave only learning.
Imagine a school with no teachers and no classrooms
Teachers in a traditional role today will be absorbed into a mentoring role tomorrow. Technology provides a powerful learning platform, but there’s more to it than that. The physical learning environment also needs to change to allow flexible, personalised, ubiquitous learning. Technology also provides the means to eliminate traditional classrooms.
Now imagine a school with no teachers and no classrooms. Only students learning within collaborative groups being actively mentored.
Where do we start? By forming student groups on a global basis and not by country, connecting them, and providing them the freedom to explore and engage with their mentors or avatars. Groups could comprise of students from anywhere in the world, based only on their learning needs. What is their common language? Mathematics. Or science, physics, geography, ... or any other subject!
This is the future of education... are you in?
About the author
Alan Power lives in Sydney, Australia and has been searching for the Holy Grail of making students think in today’s world when applied to mathematics. To that end, he co-founded the educational startup MathsRepublic. His background in both teaching of mathematics and computer information services (throughout Asia/Pacific) provides him with the vision and imagination for that search which he freely admits is unlikely ever to be finished as the technology keeps jumping ahead. He has completed nine marathons and is currently training for the Sydney half-marathon next month. He intends to finish his marathon running with either the Berlin or Paris marathons or maybe the one in Havana, Cuba!