In the last decade, there has been a big push globally to innovate our education systems. Education institutions have focused on various new methods, including: project-based learning, research-based learning, flipped classrooms, game-based learning, learning through video, thinking based learning, etc. However, the truth is that in order to successfully innovate, teachers must change how they view themselves and their role. Teachers are no longer transmitters of knowledge; they now must serve as facilitators of learning, encouraging students to actively lead themselves to information and knowledge. Beyond this common thread, there are significant differences between the various methods, and in order to utilize them in the best way, the teacher must be able to address several core questions:
- Does the methodology change instruction from direct to comprehensive? Direct instruction means the teacher is at the center of learning and manages the process of learning, even if a methodology is being used in the process. In comprehensive instruction, the teacher becomes the facilitator, an enabling leader, who gives students independence, the ability to search, explore, discover and learn in depth.
- Does the method encourage learning in depth? Research has shown that active learning is not sufficient in order to make learning meaningful and improve skills and achievements. The most significant progress is actually seen with in-depth learning, and is not based solely on how involved or active the student is. Unfortunately, we have all seen many classrooms where students seem very active, but still cannot answer questions which indicate a significant comprehension of the content being taught.
- Does the method address differences between various students in the classroom? At AMIT, we’re very in-tune with being sensitive to how each child learns. We create individualized learning plans or individual growth plans for every person in our system, whether they are principals, teachers or students. There are methods that enable personal progress and see each child as an individual within the classroom, and other methodologies which do not. And this brings us to our next question:
- Does the methodology encourage cooperative and collaborative learning? Research has shown that there is a clear correlation between collaborative learning and achievements, and that students learning together and helping one another have a direct impact on the individual progress of students.
There is not one correct answer to the questions I raised. As teachers evaluate their current methodologies and the changes they would like to make in order to innovate, they must ask themselves which skills and abilities they would like their students to acquire? What stands at the core of our school’s beliefs and values? Once the “what” is clarified, teachers can then determine the “how” – the best and most fitting methodologies in order to enable meaningful learning.