TEACHERS; if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority

We need to face the truth: TEACHERS CAN'T TEACH EVERYTHING and they can’t prioritise everything.

Are you tired of hearing what we 'should' be teaching? I know I am!

Australian primary school teachers are required to teach eight subjects, seven capabilities and three cross-curriculum priorities. While all of these skills and knowledge are important it is simply impossible to teach it all. And on top of the mandated curriculum, teachers are expected to teach additional “21st century skills” to their students.

There has been a lot of talk in education about producing students who are “autonomous lifelong learners”. Yes, fostering self-directed learning skills in our students is critical for their success in the 21st century, but who has the time to explore that topic let alone teach it in the classroom? “I can’t even get through the core curriculum with my students. What chance, or time, do I have for teaching these extra skills?”

But what if we flipped this attitude? What if we prioritised teaching students how to manage and direct their own learning? What if we emphasised the teaching of investigation skills; and how to think critically of new information and ideas? What if we instructed students in how to identify problems in their own learning and solve them creatively? What if we gave them tools and strategies to help them construct new knowledge and develop new skills by themselves. WHAT IF WE TAUGHT THEM HOW TO LEARN WITHOUT A TEACHER?!

Sounds impossible, right? But the current approach is also impossible: teach everything and prioritise everything. IF EVERYTHING IS A PRIORITY THEN NOTHING IS A PRIORITY.

Teaching a child to become an autonomous lifelong learner is not impossible – as long as you have the right pedagogy, practice and program - and as long as you start early. Children can start in Kindergarten and graduate from school as independent and self-directed lifelong learners. They might not have learned every single piece of content from the core curriculum, but if ever they do need it they will have the skills to teach it to themselves.

James Phelps

James believes it's not only possible, but simple to teach kids to think for themselves. Click the link below to see if James is coming to your area this term.