Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Random Ramblings on the 21st Century Educator

I am currently completing a teaching degree, in the form of three annual short learning programmes, and my first assignment is on the 21st century Educator - as opposed to the 20th Century Educator or as we used to call him at Orient, Hanif.

There is a quote from Lethal Weapon 4 ( 1998 ) that has helped me understand 21st Century educators. It might seem like an unlikely reference

Capt. Ed Murphy: We're dinosaurs headed for extinction.

Martin Riggs: Speak for yourself...

Capt. Ed Murphy: Gotta make way for the NEW-IMPROVED police department; guys with guns and psychology degrees, like Butters, out there.

Similarly, our roles have been redefined and are constantly changing- the hierarchy or authority as it were, is changing due to technological determinism. The educator is no more seen as being the infallible authority, but rather a sometimes hesitant navigator.

The Visionary (one who sees the potential in new technologies and web developments) is perhaps the most difficult to apply in our context. Creativity versus Practicality - To what extent do we draw on First World tools and empower students with skills that they will not use, for markets that do not exist here. So while its cool that everything is digital and that South Korea is replacing text books with ipads (web 1) - can we implement something like this in South Africa?

I think a visionary in our context should be creative, but within practical limits like NQF outcomes or student levels of comprehension. It isn’t fair to impose and assume that the students will see the bigger picture, when for many of us - it only clicked at postgrad. I know this sounds presumptuous, and I don’t want to dismiss student ability, but I do not want a situation where I use a term like visionary just to feed my own ego.

There is a piece of technology that every student brings to the class-room. Cell-phones. Traditionally, cellphones were something that was frowned upon. Distractions that did not belong in the teaching environment. But how can you be an effective journalist without twitter? Or an Aspiring Account manager without a facebook presence?

Social Media has not only redefined organisational culture, but also the culture of work. We are moving from a monochromatic understanding of time to working with deadlines in mind. One of the students whose B Tech I'm supervising is currently doing research on how twitter has supplanted radio when it comes to breaking news. The world is changing, its up to the classroom to catch up.


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