Why Primary School Teachers need to be Lifelong Learners

Image rights: news.continuingstudies.wisc.edu

Today’s job market is markedly different from what it was 1 or 2 decades ago. Continued integration of technology into the Kenyan society has hastened the rate of change in different sphere of society including the shifting mindsets of young children introduced to technological devices such as smartphones, iPads, tablets, and laptops at a tender age.

The shift is having significant ramifications of their learning process, and affecting the pedagogical styles and approaches employed. The role of the teacher is markedly changing as the world moves towards student-centered learning and technological integration into the classroom.

All these changes will expose unprepared teachers and render their methods and approaches ineffective in the model learning environment. Such transformation of the learning environment will also negatively affect teacher job satisfaction levels, their motivation, and adversely hamper the ability of the education system to achieve positive overall outcomes.

How do educators prepare for these changes? How do they harness such transformation to optimize educational outcomes? The answer is becoming lifelong learners. It will help educators to incorporate new strategies and tools into the learning process to bolster the students’ learning development. 

Lifelong learning is a mindset that challenges oneself to invent the future of our societies by keeping up with developments, innovations, changes, and inventions in relevant fields. In the modern learning environment, lifelong learning has become a necessity rather than a luxury to maintain the value of education to students.

Educators who are lifelong learners will curve out a niche in the changing education sector, and make themselves indispensable, while also playing a crucial role in shaping the future of this country. Here are four emerging themes that teachers who are lifelong learners will be equipped to handle.

1. The Shifting Role of the Teacher

Traditionally, in Kenya, the learning process is run by the teacher, with the students taking a passive role in the process. Modern learning approaches are increasingly adopting a student-centered approach to teaching/learning.

The role of the teacher is mainly to facilitate and guide the learning process.

This shift is central to developing students that can take responsibility of their learning, develop critical and problem-solving skills, improve intrinsic motivation to learn, and help them to transfer skills to the real world.

Teachers are also facing changes to the traditional assessment methods with an increasing preference of a broad range of assessments methods as opposed to the traditional formative and summative approaches.

Teachers who are lifelong learners will take these changes on board, adjust their mentalities, and gain new skills aimed at creating value within the new education system.

2. Changing Student Mentality

The traditional Kenya student – with a pen and paper – is increasingly shifting towards the contemporary student – one with a one-on-one device in the classroom.

Additionally, charged with more responsibility over the learning process, the students are becoming bolds, engaging with their imaginative selves, and working on their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Educators have to create learning environments and settings that are receptive to the new student mentalities and allow them to thrive.

Educators who are lifelong learners will embrace these changes, make the right adjustments, and cement their role in nurturing capable players in the contemporary society and the future world.

3. Integration of Technology into the Classroom

Most Kenyan educators did not grow up with much access to any form of technology; leave alone the advanced forms in use today. However, most of these educators will be entrusted with nurturing technology natives.

In many ways, most of the teachers are characterized by massive gaps in grasping the various education technologies (edutech) used in the modern classroom.

Without lifelong learning, most teachers will be stuck in the past, unable to adjust to the new learning environment that requires mastery of technology, nimble in its use, and applying it optimally in the learning process.

4. Unconventional Learning Settings Away from the Traditional Classroom

With emphasis on giving students direct access to knowledge and charging them with the responsibility of learning, more and more schools are adopting flipped and blended classrooms; and thus moving away from the traditional settings.

Such changes highlight the need for agility for teachers in responding structural and pedagogical transformations.

Adopting lifelong learning allows the educators to be abreast of these shifts, which hands them ability to harness such change to create value.

Overall, educators who are lifelong learners develop a mindset that treats mistakes and challenges as part of the learning process, equipping them to conquer the ultimate challenge – disruption.

Lifelong learners also look outside their professional development to improve their understanding of society – positioning them well to come up with outside-of-the-box thinking and innovative teaching methods.

Moreover, lifelong learning is an important aspect in any career; therefore, such educators will act as role models for the students by practicing what they teach.

mboserogeoffrey@gmail.com | @geombos


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