Transforming education: a possible challenge

Considering the child much more than a passive container of information is the great challenge of current education systems, which are often still reluctant to give the student an active role.

Many schools have now abandoned the traditional frontal lesson. The idea is that students should finish school with a baggage that is not only theoretical. We are talking about a space where one can learn to be critical, to accept only ideas based on solid and empirically confirmed arguments. Transforming education means offering a 360 degree teaching, making use of new methodologies and cooperative and collaborative learning methods.

The teacher no longer merely passes on knowledge; he or she tries to bring out what exists in the “pupil container” rather than fill it. The teacher is a guide, he or she proposes a theme; the child makes them understand what they are interested in knowing, a knowledge that in most cases goes beyond textbooks.

Transforming education beyond the book

Transforming education is the commitment to put the development of the human being before textbooks. It allows the use in the classroom of resources such as smartphones and tablets; it also upsets the spaces and times set by the school system, breaks established patterns and raises doubts.

It requires, of course, a greater effort than the classic frontal lesson. Textbooks are, in their own way, a comfort zone. Transforming education means, in other words, more work, more resources, more time and, above all, more uncertainty.

The student searches, the teacher is a guide, an orientator. If learning is built brick by brick, the student creates the content from different sources of information; in the meantime he also learns to distinguish what is reliable from what is not. It is a system, therefore, that allows learning – not only to be promoted – by encouraging the personal and school development of the child.

Alternative educational methods to traditional school

  • Flipped classroom. This method serves to “revolutionize” the class. At home you study and in the classroom you carry out activities and group work. Students can access educational content from home through ICT, with videos or blogs created by the teacher. The student, in this way, is the protagonist, takes part in engaging activities in dynamic and interactive learning; the teacher becomes a simple guide.
  • Project-based learning (APB). The main objective is to learn by doing. The result is a final project that provides an answer to real life problems; the priority, in reality, is given to the process itself rather than the end. With this method the pupil learns to apply the acquired knowledge to heterogeneous and changing contexts and thus to better understand reality.
  • Gamification or playfulness. It transfers the game into the educational context; it is a way to motivate the pupil to learn while having fun. As with any game, it is necessary to establish a goal and a working method. You can also establish levels, challenges and rewards that help direct the game and adapt it to the content to be transmitted.
  • Thinking Based Learning. A set of guidelines provided by the teacher stimulates the student to reflect. Addressing a topic or content in a reflective and critical way is the main objective of this methodology. Making decisions by questioning, for example, the reliability of information helps to develop creative thinking and thus to understand reality more deeply.

Transforming education: a new teaching/learning dynamic

These, together with other alternative methods to the traditional approach, allow to develop the teaching/learning dynamic. Storing data with the sole aim of getting a good grade or being promoted is no longer sufficient. The pupil becomes a protagonist and learning is enriched with new meanings. Although most of these educational methods date back to a few decades ago, it is only now, thanks to new technologies, that they are reinventing and spreading.

The importance of ICT

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is now very widespread. It is a natural presence with which children live almost from birth. New technologies offer excellent opportunities for the teaching/learning combination; they help to adapt information to the reality, interests and objectives of students.

The school and the education system, in this context, cannot stand by and watch or stand on the sidelines of change. Integrating ICT in the classroom is, in fact, a necessity for young people who need to learn how to untangle themselves in society.

Alternatives for new educational challenges

There is still no method that can be considered a perfect formula for learning. The new educational and social challenge is to prepare young people to be citizens of the future.

In conclusion, more effort is needed than in the frontal lesson where the pupil occupies a passive and receptive position. On the other hand, it is difficult to assess learning with a simple examination, so we welcome alternatives that involve young people in an active and motivating way.