Teach to Change the World

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Education innovators – among them many teachers – have the ability to reinvent the art of teaching in the classroom.
Yishay Mor in his new book talks about teaching as a design practice that can change the world. The French daily ‘Le Monde’ just published an inspiring portrait of a young teacher who wanted to change his class… and the world. This story makes you believe in the inspirational dimension of teaching.
Unfortunately teaching is just not a trendy profession worldwide, despite all the inspirational stories we read. UNESCO statistics indicate that many classrooms will be empty due to a lack of teachers.
Peter Dolton co-author of the Global Teacher Status Index  argues that, “we will only be able to attract (new teachers) if teaching is seen as both a highly paid and high-status profession.” But is it all about high salaries and high social status? What about teachers’ education?
Going over the literature on the pedagogy of teacher education often gives depressing results. “Using ICT in teaching and administration” and “Providing professional advice to parents” are part of the curriculum but “Changing the world” is not an indicator of a teacher’s professional development. Uninspiring pedagogy is not the best way to attract talented people into teaching. This could be another explanation for the shortage of teachers registered worldwide.
The recently appointed head of the New York City Education Department Carmen Fariña, aged 70, and a 40-year veteran of the school system, asked a politically incorrect question:  ”How do schools weed out ineffective teachers?” Until now, we were used to looking for solutions that helped us keep students in school, rather than finding ways to ‘retire’ teachers, especially when taken in the context of teachers’ scarcity.
What do we mean by an ineffective teacher? Maybe someone that doesn’t believe he or she can change the world!
There are no ‘magic wands’ to change the world (and help teachers teach effectively in the classroom) not even technological ones.
Technology provides new opportunities for teachers to engage in personal relationships with their students, and fully acknowledge their needs and their skills. The Open Education Challenge, for instance, brings innovative solutions for teachers into the classroom. But what they don’t do is substitute conviction and passion, two very basic ingredients to change the world… and the class.

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