How the progressive pedagogies learning model provides an opportunity for youth to develop skills

July 15, 2021 6:17 PM

Progressive learning is a great pedagogical tool to enable the inculcation of these skills in students. Broadly speaking this method is about learning by doing. But more specifically, it includes identifying student-specific competencies and abilities and building on the same.

By Naman Jain,

Globally, in spite of the diversity of education systems and learning models, there is an unsaid consensus on how rote learning is not an effective method for holistic growth of students. Even though it can have limited advantages and may be useful for memorization, in the long term, it is considered ineffective in creating a learning curve that is progressive and takes into account a student’s needs and abilities.

There is a renewed focus on shifting the learning process from being memorization-oriented to learning-oriented. This is important as school education should be about giving students a set of skills useful throughout one’s life as well as an ability to constantly upgrade and upskill themselves.

Many wrongly assume that skill development is akin to vocational training – both of which are best pursued after the stage of secondary education. However, given the complexity of today’s world where careers are threatened by the rise of automation and potential job markets are getting volatile by the say, having a dynamic school education has become essential. A learning system that is reflective of fast-occurring changes enables students too become responsible for their growth and agile in picking up new skills. For a student to be able to identify variations in a system and to nip the problem of stagnating growth in the bud requires them to have studied in a system that recognises multiple learning models and diverse student needs.

The pandemic has fastened the pace of digitization and all stakeholders ranging from early adopter to the more hesitant ones have joined the online learning bandwagon. The pandemic is also a stark reminder of what an uncertain world looks like and the kind of challenges it poses. Children and adults – both have found themselves at a loss as to how to cope with the trials created by a global health crisis. What this tells us that now more than ever is the right time to include a diverse mix of methods in our bowl of pedagogical tools.

Given that students spend over a decade – and the most formative years of their lives – in the schooling system, it becomes imperative to include skill training at this stage. Skills can be classified as of four types: life skills, academic skills, employability skills, and entrepreneurial skills. The purpose of this mix is to ensure that one is prepared for each stage of their lives and can smoothly transition from one role to the other in case of a crisis or emergency. For instance, the pandemic again is a great example of a situation where one can use these four types of skills to cope effectively. The advantage of having a holistic skill set like this is that it allows one to anticipate crises and be ahead of them instead of catching oneself off-guard in an emergency.

Progressive learning is a great pedagogical tool to enable the inculcation of these skills in students. Broadly speaking this method is about learning by doing. But more specifically, it includes identifying student-specific competencies and abilities and building on the same.

For example, a student is found to be good with numbers and can likely become a financial analyst in the future. Once the teachers observe the desire to learn in a student, they work towards achieving this goal by focusing on improving the student’s ability to do error free and fast calculations. This focus on developing analytical skills not only prepares students for certain careers but also act as useful points of transitions and growth in case they seek a change in career trajectory. Further, it also helps reduce confusion in decision-making at the secondary school level where one opts for their choice of stream. The more skilled one is at a certain discipline, the more likely they will succeed in the same and this is a solid reason to opt for the said stream.

Another example for how progressive learning practices lead to skills development and building competencies in the learner is through skill labs which provide innovative “community outreach” activities. This allows students to find opportunities for hands-on practice in application of knowledge into continuous learning. They take the lead in identifying challenges, thinking of solutions and executing ideas into action, all under the supervision of teachers and mentors but with an independent mind.

An ideal mechanism to enforce this successfully is to adopt the novel STREAMS model which is an upgrade of the conventional STEM model and includes research, social science and a connection with the society. This model intends to create tangible deliverables and output in terms of community support and giving back to society while allowing students to look inwards and grow their skills. Often, both teachers and parents misunderstand support to mean handholding students which does not allow them to develop critical thinking skills or life skills that can help them cope with unexpected crises. However, an effective and solid pedagogical framework is one where students have the ability to think freely, work independently and plan using their teachers’ guidance while allowing for some leeway for mistakes and learning to take place.

The progressive pedagogies learning model borrows some of these ideal best practices that can allow students to grow wings and fly confidently without fearing heights or worrying about downfall. A system that includes multi-dimensional strategies that include forward and backward integration models of developing skills and competencies in the learners will help create leaders of tomorrow.

(The author is Education Policy Expert and Director Silver Line Prestige School, Ghaziabad. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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