Newspaper Article: Education is Needed More, now than Ever”

2020-4-22

 

Education Is Needed More, Now Than Ever

By: Matthew Jellick

Critical discourse, idea sharing, and support of evidence are some of the practices I encourage in my classes, using the notion of “Teaching as a Language” to not only promote English as the medium of instruction, but also to foster a strong pedagogical approach to teaching and learning; both needed now more than ever to sustain not only our thirst for knowledge, but perhaps more importantly, our path towards it.

The classroom, whether online or in a building, should always act as a conduit of idea sharing, with equal validity given to teacher and student talk, a highway of information flowing in a circular motion where there is no beginning or end. The depiction of a teacher standing in front of a classroom lecturing to diligent students reciting, without question or feedback, is rife with a false understanding of strata, for our job as educators is to shed light, not to master.

This semester, our Center for Language Education is working on a TA Teaching Development Program at Southern University of Science and Technology, further developing English competency for Teaching Assistants across a variety of disciplines. Within our weekly classes, I address the TAs as colleagues, rather than students, as although I may know more about English, they know more about their specific subjects, including Engineering and Mathematics. This gives credibility to their voice during our conversations on pedagogy, and in turn, creates a student-centric classroom where everyone has an equal platform on which to share their ideas.

Critical thinking is a skill which is learned through practice and plays an important role in how we value input, regardless of where it is from. The filtering of ideas through a mechanism where we identify and analyze helps us, as learners, assign weight to arguments, and then come up with our own individual understanding of what we have been told. The ability to question a teacher, for example, shows thought, not skepticism, and should be applauded as an identifier of a critical thinker. Different sources of research, and the validity of each is how we confirm the information we are getting is authoritative and can be used to support our argument, using it as a tool to make a claim and corroborate it.

Education is lifelong and worldwide, and during our current set of circumstances, the positive approaches to teaching and learning are vital as we move forward. While there will be a transition back into traditional models of instruction, we should be careful to keep the students as the center of the classroom, using their knowledge to enhance discussions, giving ownership to their ideas. The best teachers are always good learners, constantly adjusting to developments through innovative practices which reflect the strengths of the students, not themselves, ensuring learning opportunities which are sustainable both inside as well as outside the classroom.

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