RE: We Have to Stop Doing This to Teachers | Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech

I’ve been commenting on a blog post by Dean Shareski who is a Digital Learning Consultant with the Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada.

I’d love to know what you think about my ideas and speculations… So please leave me a comment below…

Hi Dean,

I’m a lecturer in Educational Sciences at the University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Europe and I want to share my humble and preliminary thoughts about “imposed changes”. We are having a major reform of our school law (the last real update was in 1912!) partially due to what has been called the PISA-Shock in Germany (one of our neighbor countries), partially due to the fact that finally somebody got the balls and wisdom to see that our school system and it’s laws and regulations were actually well suited for a society of the beginning of the 20th century but did no longer fit with our changed demographics and the major changes in our economy and cultures (from an agricultural/industrial society to a knowledge/information society). We have namely had major immigration waves to Luxembourg from mainly Italy and Portugal during the last decades, so that the proportion of “foreigners” now takes 40% of the people living in Luxembourg. And we do have a lot of transnational commuters coming to work in Luxembourg everyday (about the size of 30% of our resident population).

Let me be clear at this point: I do think that the changes in laws and regulations were needed and would have been needed earlier.

However, I do feel, like you describe you do, that all the new requirements that teachers in K-12 schools have to handle everyday may be too much for them. I still hope that the new legal framework (away from an input-oriented/teacher-centered/instruction-based teaching system towards an output-oriented/learner-centered/competencies-oriented system) will allow teachers to free themselves from all the time-pressures they had to cope with before and allow them to creatively adapt their teaching practices. We’ve heard all the time from teachers that, given the strict and highly-demanding instruction programs they had to deliver, they never had time to do things at a pace suited to ALL children, that some kids were necessarily left behind, but that they didn’t really have the choice, because they had to rush through the school manuals and the instruction program as fast as possible to be sure that parents (mainly of the “good-grades” kids) wouldn’t come knocking on their doors and ask them why the neighboring classes were ahead of them in terms of this linear, progressive and predefined input program. That has certainly been quite a drain on their mental and physical resources over the last decades.

However, the reform we are living through now may put them under even more pressure, partially because they are not necessarily well prepared for the new requirements and challenges: working in teams, creating enriched learning environments for kids, doing on-going portfolio evaluation, giving each child the chances to learn at their pace, etc.

I hope to do my small and humble contributions to this enterprise by trying to empower my future teacher students to be better prepared for changes in the future by helping them to develop life-long-learning attitudes and behaviors.

However, there are considerable risks that the multiple new pressures that teachers have to cope with will make some of them even more conservative and rigid in their attitudes and believes… “I’ll stick to what I’ve been good at for decades.”

Structural changes need to be supported and scaffolded by those responsible for the change, when it comes from the top to the bottom… changes from the bottom are always more self-supporting, but sometimes changes in laws and regulations become inevitable to allow these bottom-up changes to happen and to be legal and acceptable…