By Suseela Santhosh
The education sector witnessed an unprecedented disruption during the past couple of years owing to the pandemic induced lockdown where the traditional classroom-based pedagogy was completely upended to a virtual one. This pivot (to virtual pedagogy) however was so sudden and unplanned that neither the students nor the teachers were equipped to engage with it in a manner so envisaged; with reasons ranging from students lacking access to smartphones/internet to the teachers focusing on enrolment and teaching/completing the syllabus within the stipulated time and not on learning. While “from nothing to something” might be the mantra underpinning this transition, the unintended outcome of this discourse has been a significant lack of grade-equivalent competencies and consequent chronic learning deficit in students, which over time greatly affected their capacity to acquire real-life skills as they graduated to the higher levels of schooling.
As we now enter 2023 (with the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us and schools returning to classroom pedagogy), it may be worthwhile to take a stock of the various education trends underpinning the efforts of the educators to compensate for the learning loss for last 2 years while simultaneously ensuring that the mundane teaching discourse continues unabated. The Oxford Dictionary defines trend as “direction of change or development of a situation”. Below are some of the “directions of change” i.e., trends anticipated for the education sector in 2023 –
Integration of classroom teaching with skills-based education
The education discourse is expected to focus on building more hands-on skills in students. Thus, real-world skills like critical thinking, visualising, interpreting, analysing and articulating along-with problem solving will be progressively integrated with traditional skills like reading, writing, listening and speaking. Given that we are now wiser by experience (of lockdown induced online education), the attributes like agility and resilience may also be mainstreamed into the training pedagogy to equip students and teachers to better deal with black-swan events (like Covid) in future.
Student Centred Learning (SCL)
The genesis of SCL lies in building curiosity, inquisitiveness and creativity in students to enable them to ask the right questions (to themselves and to their support system in form of teachers and parents) to find solutions to their issues by themselves. Mastering these questioning techniques (to find the root cause of the issues and address the same) ensures that students eventually become the co-curators of their own destiny as they continue with their education and are able to take decisions (and responsibility for those decisions) by themselves.
Learning outside the classroom
It is entirely plausible that the teaching discourse in schools may no longer be confined to the 4 walls of the classroom but shall progressively incorporate elements of experiential learning to make the learning experience (for the students) more immersive and attuned to the real world. This would help students relate the theoretical knowledge they gain in the classrooms with the life experiences underpinning the subject of study, making the subjects more interesting and learning more practical.
Virtual and/or blended Learning
As mentioned earlier, the world pivoted to virtual learning with the advent of the pandemic. Even as the said pandemic has receded, it is unlikely that the world will abandon virtual learning altogether. However, a more amended approach where virtual classes/curriculum supplements (and not supplants teaching discourse – as was the case during pandemic) is a more likely scenario. An alternate can also be a blended model, where the theoretical concepts may continue to be imparted in a virtual mode, with practical being conducted in classroom is also possible.
Often games are associated with entertainment. However, in the context of education it would mean applying the theory of games to non-games/academic context. It means leveraging elements of “games” like competitions, badges, point(ers) etc to explain key concepts, thus ensuring that the learning discourse becomes more engaging and interactive without compromising the content.
Introduction of non-conventional courses
Non-conventional courses may refer to certain additional courses that complements the school curriculum with an aim to build the certain intended skills in the students. These may include specific courses in craft and drawing to build on the creative and ingenious attributes or vocational courses to build real life skills in the students. It is imperative for schools to impart such courses to ensure that the students build the right Knowledge-Attitude-Skills-Habits (KASH) as they graduate from school students to productive citizens.
As we emerge from the long shadow of the pandemic, a key lesson for us as educators to understand is that today’s (and tomorrow’s) problems require solutions that are scalable, sustainable and economical. This mandates us to help create our next generation of students who are curious, empathetic and ingenious on one hand and critical thinkers and problem solvers on the other. This will require us to amend the student grading process to make it more comprehensive so as to facilitate a more all-encompassing assessment of the students – which can also act as constructive feedback for them to improve as they progress in their academics. We owe this reform to our students, parents and the society at large, if we have to eventually achieve the goal of a more socially conscious and prosperous society.
The author is director at Vishwa Vidyapeeth Group of Schools.