Over the past 10 years I have taught in traditional elementary schools in Emmen. I was a teacher and ICT expert here. Or how they like to call it today: i-coach. I have seen a lot of change within the schools in these last 10 years. From textbook, notebook and blackboard to digiboard with newest digiboard software and iPads for students. I have also seen a lot of different educational concepts and changes in these years.
Think of: the IGDI or EDI-model, convergent/ divergent differentiation, development perspective, action – oriented work, cooperative methods, income – oriented work, suitable education, civic education, media literacy, multiple intelligences, positive behavior support (PBS), 21stcentury skills, executive functions, computational thinking, digital literacy, personalized learning. And I still haven’t mentioned all concepts. We have been occupied with all of it.
A popular concept in ‘education country’ at this moment is personalized learning. Letting children work on learning goals in their own way and their own speed. A good starting point! But how do you organize that in a school that still works with the ‘old – fashioned’ annual learning material grade system? Where we as teachers are still holding on to our methods? But where children with devices work on different goals and in no time work on several levels. How do you keep on following the children properly?
This got me thinking and I delved into our current school model: the annual learning material grade system. The only system that hasn’t changed in a hundred years. Does this system still even fit at all in this time?
Issues with the current schoolmodel.
I think there are two problems that we encounter with the current school model:
- The learning material is the starting point of the system while the child should be.
- The difference of level between kids becomes too big due to digitalization and thus making it increasingly difficult for the teacher to give the appropriate instructions.
In short, the annual learning material grade system.
In the annual learning material grade system, students are grouped based on their age. The learning material is the starting point of the annual learning material grade system. There are methods available that the students have to go through annually. The basic premise of the annual learning material grade system is that children of the same age have to meet the same performance requirements.
Problem 1. The learning material is the starting point.
The basic issue with the annual learning material grade system is that it takes the average student as starting point and bases the whole learning material on it.But the average student does not exist and this system does everybody wrong. The children who are under the average score, have to walk on eggshells, while the above – average children continuously receive too little offers.
Problem 2. Level differences are too big.
In this time of wide ranges of digital learning resources, children keep growing further apart at an ever – younger age. The limitations of paper – work are no more. A child can go through certain exercise materials very quickly, without the teacher having to search for the learning materials or that the student has to wait for the teacher to go through the material.
Students are obstructed because of the limits of the annual learning material grade system. These limits “write” a certain number of learning materials in a year. The digital resources are becoming more sophisticated and there will be more digital material available in the coming years. Exercise programs are also being increasingly equipped with instructional videos to make them more teachers – independent. The differences between students will become bigger and bigger because of this emergence. One can thus say: the more you implement personalized learning, the more the current school model comes under pressure.
Because of a move to the west of the country, I was forced to think about my future as a teacher. Will I stand before a class again? Will I encounter the same problems? Or will I look further and see if I can work on a solution.
As you can see, I choose the last option and recently joined sCoolSuite. sCoolSuite aspires to learning goal – oriented education, to personalize and differentiate. They have developed wonderful software which supports this. Curious about my experiences within sCoolSuite and why I think that this is one of the solutions to the many problems that we face in education? Then read my next blog next week!