education

Teachers must serve as mentors, says Abdullah

As traditional curricula become irrelevant, teacher must use technology to engage students, say experts

17:09 October 7, 2017

Abu Dhabi: In an era where the role of memorisation is increasingly moot in education, teachers must serve as inspirational models who teach children how to learn, conduct research and improve themselves, a minister said here on Saturday.

“Today, our children know more than we did at their age, and sometimes even more than we do now. They look up information at every given moment, and this is why traditional curricula have become largely invalid and irrelevant,” Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said, addressing delegates at the Global Teachers’ Forum, Qudwa 2017.

“Instead of delivering lessons and correcting homework, teachers must therefore work as mentors who engage children and help them develop on their strengths. Students, on the other hand, must also play an active role in curriculum redesign,” he added.

Shaikh Abdullah was speaking at the opening of the two-day forum which focuses on developing education by empowering teachers. A total of 900 educators and officials are attending Qudwa 2017, which is being held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The forum is being organised by the education affairs office of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and its director, Mohammad Al Nuaimi, said Qudwa aims to serve as a platform that allows educators to share knowledge and learn from one another.

The event will see 90 sessions centred on teaching strategies, character education, professional development, 21st century skills and innovation.

One of the main themes at the forum was the disruptive and changing nature of modern education.

Michael Horn, co-founder of American think tank Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, said schools today must prioritise differentiated teaching that allows every single child to reach his/her full potential.

“In the era of the industrial revolution, schools were first designed to model factories, and this system succeeded at promoting universal education, However, the rigid pace and curriculum meant that many children had large gaps in their education that would hold them back,” Horn explained.

In the digital era, technology, including online learning models, must therefore be used to educate children at their own pace about concepts that suit their needs and passions, the expert added.

“We should personalise learning to the different needs of each student — competency-based learning at scale. Teachers will still test and assess students, but will be able to get real-time and interactive feedback to know what to do next, and only move on to new concepts once students have mastered the course. In addition to the more rigorous academic outcomes, we will then see lifelong and better prepared learners suited for the knowledge economies of today,” Horn said.

The expert also stressed on the increasing importance of teachers in this new education ecosystem.

“Technology does a great job in delivering instructions and content to students, as well as data to teachers, but it is not good at providing social and emotional guidance. This is why teachers can play the role of mentors and counsellors, working with students on all the emotional challenges that can arise in an educational setting,” he added.