29 September 2022
“School should not just be a four-walled classroom”
Teachers who took part in the HTT research project in Brazil dream of a student-centered and reality-based education that inspires students to aim higher.
Opening doors to the future
School can change one’s life – this belief was omnipresent in the conversations with Brazilian teachers conducted as part of the HTT research project. At the same time, the teachers observed that this belief wasn’t shared by many of their students, who struggle with low motivation and poor engagement in the educational process. According to the participants in the HTT research project, students coming from underprivileged backgrounds have very low aspirations and no hope for a life different from the one they observe around them. The role of teachers, therefore, exceeds far beyond merely teaching: Nowadays, we are not only a teacher to teach. We are teachers to have the sensibility to understand what the child brings, what the child needs. The teachers saw individual approach as key to changing students’ perspective on their future.
Teacher as an agent of change
Reminiscing about their own school experience, our respondents reflected that the traditional, authoritative way of teaching doesn’t work. The teachers stressed the importance of students having space to participate, share their opinions and be heard. In fact, this very sentiment was at the core of certain individuals’ decision to become teachers. They wanted to change the way children were treated in schools and make a positive difference in their lives.
School needs to empower students
I believe that the school should get closer to the student’s reality, the content should be more focused on their experience, their environment, because that would bring more interest to them – said one of the Brazilian teachers. The interviewed teachers observed that students often lack interest in learning because lessons are not in any way relevant to their reality. The educational content taught at schools should thus be more focused on the actual experience of students and their environment. Another major issue exacerbating the problem is textbooks. They contain information that students cannot directly relate to and largely neglect local aspects – the very thing most relevant for the students involved.
Learning does not happen through acquiring theory
A major challenge in the process of changing education is the preparation of curricula and learning materials that would fully address the needs of students. The participants in the HTT study believe that combining theoretical and practical knowledge would truly engage students in the educational process. At the same time, they feel an overwhelming lack of systemic support in this endeavor. The Interdisciplinary Subject HTT is working on is an answer to this need – it will integrate the school with the reality outside the classroom, providing educators with effective tools to teach any and all subjects.
School should prepare students for challenges that await them in their future lives. It should also inspire them to be ambitious in setting their goals and equip students with all the skills necessary to accomplish them. The experience of our Brazilian respondents shows that the change should encompass the entirety of the educational system, from textbooks and curricula to relationships between teachers and students. In HTT, we believe that putting students’ needs first should be at the very core of the process of transforming education.