In December 2012, one of my employees who came from a migrant family got sick and he sent his younger brother to help out in the office. I was apprehensive to deal with a person who had no experience of IT work but it turned to be a blessing in disguise.
After working with him for a few hours, I learnt that he was quite talented but less than average in his class grades. He was moving into year 10 at school. To cut the long story short, I negotiated with his family, school and education board to let him complete his studies while working at our office.
He then completed his HSC before his elder brother, finished a diploma in IT Networking and is now studying his Bachelor in Information Technology in WSU. In this journey, he also earned enough to fund his education and save a bit for the family. Now, at the age of 19, he is not only studying but also working as a Tech Lab Manager at Notebook Solutions.
This is one of the stories of 260+ work placement students whom I mentored. It is quite obvious that the schooling system the student came from was not able to fully realize his potential. Thus, it behooves us to have a closer look at the modern Australian education system which was invented 150 years ago.
While over the years, it improved only marginally there have been massive technological improvements and jumps in the last 40 years, since computers & the Internet came around. It did not take long to become the information era. Some observers would say that the knowledge and innovation Era is the next logical step in this progression.
However, we wonder if our education system is ready for it? Unfortunately, our education system is not matching up with the needs due to its slow response. It is a great start to putting laptops, iPads, into the classrooms but these measures are superficial. It will not work until we evolve the whole teaching approach.
The emphasis should be on learning and not teaching. Previously, everything was about information. The teacher had information and students would need to know that information which was stored in their notebooks and sometimes in their head.
A lot of emphasis was put on memorizing information which needed simplification. The whole challenge was to contain that information and then convey and use them. It wasn’t complex like what we have now. We used to do to different things. Most of the things were manual. There was no global village concept previously and even national borders were irrelevant 50 years ago. It was passive learning but active teaching.
In the current era, as the world became complex, the quantity and complexity of the information increased exponentially. Information is not ‘on’ but ‘under’ our fingertips with touchscreens becoming a potent gateway to the internet .To read a book, we do not really need to go to the library but rather look it up online due to the digitalization of the library.
Thus, in a world where the role of books is seemingly decreasing in importance, we need a learning approach where learners should be on driving seat, letting their passions fuels their journey. It requires a form of teaching called ‘Active Learning and Passive Teaching’ where the teacher’s role should be that of a facilitator who:
- Identifies the student’s passion through a series of fun based learning activities,
- Fuels the passion of the student by encouraging them and supplying learning resources,
- Improves and gives them new skills by giving them real life assignments and projects which can be done at school, home or even by communities.
This is what we do in our Young Innovators Network, where our pool of passionate teachers mentor children who do not excel in our “over systemized” schools. We run learning activities which complement the gap left by schools.
If you have such a child or if you are interested to know about our activities, workshops and programs, visit our site:
YoungInnovators.net.au and go to the ‘Join us’ section.