From the World Bank blog:
Despite tremendous progress in getting children into the classroom, we are experiencing a global learning crisis, where a large share of children complete primary school lacking even basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. What explains this phenomenon? To answer this question, consider the following examples of classrooms that are unlikely to put students on a path to success.
In Kabul, Afghanistan, a teacher begins his lesson by reading out the learning objective. He then asks one student after another to read the same information again. Over 20 minutes are spent on this activity.
In Dar es Salam, Tanzania, students are left unattended with no learning activity for the first 20 minutes of class. When the teacher arrives, he asks the students to independently solve 36 plus 19. During this time, the teacher sits at his desk. After 10 minutes, the teacher asks one student to solve the problem. When the student can’t solve it, the teacher asks another student to do it.
In Rawalpindi, Pakistan, a teacher asks students to divide four by two. He gives the students five minutes to solve the problem independently before asking a student to solve it on the board. After the student correctly solves the problem, the teacher erases it from the board and asks five more students to solve the exact same problem again.
These are not isolated examples. A growing body of evidence suggests the learning crisis is at its core, a teaching crisis (see evidence from Afghanistan, Latin America, the Philippines, and Sub-Saharan Africa). Teachers play a critical role in helping students learn (see evidence from India, Pakistan, and Uganda). However, teacher’s formal education, years of experience (beyond the first two), cognitive skills, and entry exam performance only explain a small fraction of the variation in student learning. Research from Chile, Ecuador, and Ghana highlights the crucial role teaching practices play in explaining student learning outcomes. Despite its importance, low- and middle-income countries rarely measure teaching practices. This is due, in part, to a lack of adequate classroom observation tools and high transaction costs associated with administering them.
We would not want to underestimate the power of a good teacher and certainly many teachers need further support and training -but are we missing out the student in the learning equation?
Escuela Nueva has shown the importance of engaging students through a student government and seeing students as partners rather than as objects to be ‘taught’.
We do need a revolution in education, one where we use the new research on learning from neuroscience, link it to the rights of children and provide education opportunities for all, with a very different future in mind.