07 November 2022

Kids always want to know more, but teachers hit systemic obstacles

Author: Karolina Czopek

Research

Most teachers dream of education that will develop students’ talents, show them how to resolve problems, communicate efficiently, analyze sources and cooperate. However, through system requirements and outdated curriculum, they are rarely able to teach this way.

The mission

At the Holistic Think Tank, we strongly believe that changing the future starts with changing schools. We place our deep hopes in the new generation, which still has a chance to build a new and better world. To make this possible it is necessary to equip youth with the skills to understand themselves, others, nature. To show them how to act in the spirit of cooperation, communication, and respect. To point out that their creativity and passion can help them find new solutions.

We believe that the school can fulfill this mission.

Work ahead

Yet, there is an incredible amount of work ahead. Today’s schools around the world usually do not teach what they should. The fault rarely lies with the teachers. Let`s take a look at the schools of Lebanon, where HTT runs a research project. Our respondents were deeply concerned about developing competencies that go beyond acquiring theoretical knowledge: communication, respect, conflict resolution, compassion, asking for help, curiosity, critical thinking, or the ability to analyze sources. However, they have no systemic guidelines to provide these skills.

Pointlessness of memorization

– I would like to have additional sessions to allow our students to meet the challenges of the world, but the Lebanese curriculum does not allow this as there are too many subjects to be covered, note one of the teachers we spoke with. Lebanon’s education system, like the education systems in many other countries, implies a lot of memory learning. Teachers point out that forcing children to memorize information is ineffective for two reasons: first, it can be forgotten, and second – it can quickly become outdated in the ever-changing modern world. This is what happened with the program of Civics in Lebanon. According to one of our respondents,it is not applicable anymore. – Children are aware that what we are teaching them in the books is hard to find in real life, noticed another teacher.

Task

This points us to the importance of, on the one hand, providing schools with updated curricula, but on the other, teaching students how to search for information on their own. Knowing how to find sources and analyze them is a skill that is indispensable in the era of fake news and new media. Teachers play a key role in the change-making process: Kids always want to know more, so giving them the pleasure of seeking answers to all kinds of questions is a way that allows students to know how to analyze sources.

Our respondents were critical of such aspects of the educational system as grading and rote learning. They believe schools lack a connection between different subjects and a common agenda for all teaching staff. Although our respondents are trying to teach their students skills that will be truly useful, because of system requirements and an outdated curriculum, this is not an easy task. Especially since teachers often feel that they have been left alone with their mission. – I am aware that I cannot change a belief system on my own, that’s why we need to find it in ourselves as teachers to put in hard work and make time for this kind of thing, one teacher told us. Our respondents in Lebanon note that developing students’ key competencies are too complex and challenging for just one person to undertake.

Our mission is not to leave them with this task alone.