New Perspectives in Teaching and Learning: Reforms or Educational Revolution?
Journal of Educational and Social Research
Although all disciplines, including education, have experienced large-scale transformations during the last several decades owing to remarkable scientific development, in many instances, current practices in education still reflect the philosophy and standards of the mass production model which was a direct product of the Industrial Revolution. Namely, in order to educate as many children as possible in a short period of time, children were grouped into classes according to their age and not
... heir age and not their abilities, needs, learning styles and social backgrounds; all learners in a particular class were exposed to the same curriculum and taught on a one subject-one lesson basis by teachers who usually specialized in one specific subject area. Today, many decades later, learners are basically still placed in classes according to age, are exposed to a curriculum that does not always successfully prepare them for the future workforce and are taught by teachers who often specialize in only one subject area, thus depriving learners of full exposure to the needs of the twentyfirst century, that is, interdisciplinary, collaborative task-based project work. All things considered, education throughout the world is still characterized by artificial barriers to learning; for example, holding lessons within the four walls of classrooms, using a bell system to denote the end of one subject/class and the beginning of the next subject/class, utilizing content-driven curricula based on the philosophy of one-size-fits-all classroom instruction. With the explosion of information in the fields of science and technology, professionals in education recognize the dramatic changes that have occurred during the last few decades, and acknowledge that a new insight into teaching and learning has developed. Contemporary teaching practices in the classroom are very different to the methods of instruction utilized in past decades; twenty-first century teaching is centred on a completely different approach to the understanding of the learning process, and thus also, to the choice of accompanying classroom activities. Information gathered from multidisciplinary scientific research in the field of education has contributed significantly towards understanding the processes involved in acquisition of knowledge and skills. The pedagogical branch of neuroscience has offered educators essential information regarding the learners' preferred cognitive path in acquisition of knowledge and skills, and how teachers can offer the most effective scaffolding in order to maximize the learners' capacity to acquire knowledge, learning strategies and skills. The above-mentioned unique challenges have made a great impact in the field of education and have launched a remarkable transformation in the classroom; not only are educators and learners required to take on new roles in the classroom, but also, the whole classroom environment has been channeled in the direction of the development of cooperative, collaborative learning communities. Transformation in the contemporary classroom extends beyond mere reforms of existing teaching and learning methods or modernization of teaching/learning materials and techniques to embrace the dynamism of a revolution in education that includes empowering learners to self-invest in their education and the reconstruction of classroom strategies to meet these new perspectives. This new rationale for education recognizes learners and teachers as colearners in a learning community that is based on shared teacher-learner responsibilities in settings that spread beyond the classroom walls and the school to include authentic learner experiences, often in the workplace, itself. Education systems that are contingent on learner uniformity, learner conformity and learner compliance are being replaced by systems that personalize education rather than customize education, that teach the learner and not the discipline, in other words, that meet the needs of the future. The development of transferable learner strategies, critical/reflective/rational thinking skills, creativity, leadership qualities including perseverance, collaboration, problem-solving skills, effective communication and conflict resolution skills, together with growth of global awareness and media literacy, highlight twenty-first century education. New Roles of the Teacher and the Learner As a result of new perspectives on standard occurrences in the classroom, teachers are required to re-examine their teaching strategies and learner expectations. The contemporary educational scene focuses on learner-centered Education programs at the beginning of the twenty-first century will give the learner the tools that are necessary to acquire appropriate and meaningful knowledge, and to develop necessary transferable skills and a constructive, reflective attitude towards learning; the teacher will be trained through continuous professional development to effectively and successfully teach through innovative educational practices that encourage life-long learning.