Regaining the true purpose of education
Date : 02 June 2020
Reported by : Roslan Bin Rusly
Category : News
LETTERS: While I appreciate my children's teachers' attempts to continue providing learning activities to my children, I am also concerned that this is indicative of missing the opportunity to regain the purpose of education.
The homework assignments are mainly exercises, normally given to reinforce what teachers cover in class during regular school sessions.
And therein lies the poser. It is now not regular school sessions, but remote learning.
So why should homework be a source of concern? Because teachers are giving out the same kinds of homework as they would during normal school days. It is as if we are simply changing the platform — from physical to online — without giving much thought to the uniqueness of each one.
And with that, I believe we are squandering the opportunity to return to the way education should be — a renewed normal in education that is the purpose of education and the nature of learning.
Early in my career, as a teacher trainer, I was aghast when in one school, my students were told to only teach Science in the classrooms.
No reason to go to the lab as the pupils only needed to memorise things to do well in their exams. As a parent, I was made even more painfully aware that my children's performance in their exams mattered more than their actual growth in other areas.
We did our own experiments at home so that the children could experience the joy of discovery.
As a preschool education consultant, I found myself fighting against the mindsets of some parents, who only expected their child to be able to read as early as they could, and expecting exams in kindergarten.
They mistakenly think it would make their child excel later in school. This excellence was translated over and over again within the public consciousness as getting a string of A's.
The focus for meaningful learning often times is sacrificed for the A's, resulting in spoon feeding, including those reinforcement homework exercises.
The purpose of education is lost. Engaging students in their own learning and making students become independent learners were sidelined for the number of students with straight A's.
Covid-19 provides us a chance to regain that purpose. With remote learning, teachers are no longer able to spoon-feed the students. Students need to take charge of their own learning.
Students need to be disciplined so that they spend more time improving themselves. Teachers should find tasks that will excite the students to love information and transform their knowledge to something purposeful.
When students are no longer reading a page only because it will be quizzed on in class or when students are excited to share with their teachers what they have learned, we are renewing the purpose of education.
Renewed normal in education is not about the platform we use, but the learning activities designed to engage our students to become life-long learners and thinkers.
Office of Knowledge for Change and Advancement
International Islamic University Malaysia