- From a rigid system to a flexible one
The traditional education system was rigid. He treated all the students as if they were the same and wanted everyone to complete their studies with the same knowledge. He expressly sought to homogenize. This is very problematic in a society that aims to empower individuals and requires everyone to decide what to do with their life.
“We should have much more flexibility at the level of schools and teachers to adapt teaching and learning to the situation of students, to what they need to find their passion,” said Sahlberg.
Alec Patton, a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, a specialist in education and a middle school teacher in the United States, asked his students at the High Tech High Chula Vista in San Diego what 21st-century students needed. “They said that they had to be able to move more in class, instead of sitting all the time, and that success is not determined by standardized tests but through means such as learning presentations. They also talked about the importance of project-based teaching, which consists in learning about specific content in depth, instead of covering many different topics more superficially, “Patton told Infobae.
Another feature of that rigidity had to do with teaching sometimes very complex subjects such as a closed package that can not be discussed, almost as revealed truths. This is in flagrant contradiction with the inevitable relativism imposed by the information society, where many different interpretations can be found of each phenomenon.
“Schools should teach students how to think critically, and that can only be achieved with a culture that encourages children to question authority,” Patton said.
There are already institutions that work with this unstructured logic, which adapts to the requirements of children. The Khan Laboratory School, founded by educator Sal Khan in California, is a good example. There are no courses separated by years, nor a teacher who stands in front of a class of seated students. These are the ones who decide – with certain limits, of course – what and how they want to learn, and the teachers are there to guide them in their training process.
- The learning of human competences, not only of knowledge
“Education should be more balanced to focus on the whole development of the child, not just the basic instrumental skills that are usually used as criteria to measure educational success. Schools would have to add time and resources to include arts, music and physical activity as equivalent elements of their work with children, “Sahlberg said.
Reimers gave some examples of countries that are working in that direction. “The purposes of the curriculum have expanded in the last decade in Chile, China, the United States, India, Mexico, and Singapore. There is a true elevation of the aspirations on the type of competencies that young people must develop, to include cognitive, character, social and leadership competencies “.
Singapore, the country that leads the PISA tests of educational quality, opted for psychic and human education as a standard of its teaching system. The objective is to instill the importance of values such as solidarity and coexistence, as well as to work on resilience, to learn to overcome frustrations and develop a positive mentality.
“We have to elevate collaboration, conversation, leadership and empathy to educational policy priorities,” Sahlberg said. I believe that technology has been and will continue to be the decisive factor in our way of living and understanding the world. But this does not mean that technology has to address what happens in schools. It is necessary to emphasize the aspects of human existence that are threatened by the excessive use of digital technologies. “
Another outstanding case in this regard is that of Finland, which for many years also led the PISA ranking. According to Sahlberg, some of the innovations that they incorporated decades ago into their teaching system are cooperative learning, shared leadership, and democratic education. This type of practice enrich the students as people and make their passage through the school more complete.
“The key lessons of the Finnish experience,” said the educator, “are: always keep collaborative and teamwork in the foreground instead of the competition and the race to the top; invest heavily and systematically in educational equity rather than increasing privatization and the possibility of choosing between different schools; and make teaching a real profession, insisting that all teachers have high academic and professional credentials, instead of creating shortcuts so that they can teach amateur and unprepared instructors. “