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'What does it mean to be a learner in new times?

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Introduction

'What does it mean to be a learner in new times? Introduction Much has changed within our education system over the last decade or so. Gone is the mentality of teaching the 'masses' or the 'stereotypical student', who, it was thought should learn in a particular way. This particular way was thought to be suited to all students. Whereby, teachers taught according to a standards-based curriculum as opposed to a learner- centred curriculum( Dembo 2004). This type of standards-based teaching reflects the 'Old world' type of education or the 'traditional type' of education where the role of the teacher was to impart knowledge and facts and to prepare students for the workforce. Due to the ever changing socioeconomic climate that we live in and the uncertainty that comes with it, "the world of the twenty-first century is characterised by the development of 'knowledge economies' wherein nations' social prosperity and economic viability are premised upon skilled and knowledgeable citizens" (pg. 1,ACDE 2003) as a result of this changing and uncertain world that presents, the role of the teacher or the way in which they taught had to change, so as to accommodate this new learner. The way in which students learn has perhaps been taken for granted, assuming that all learners learn in the same way and therefore teaching them should be done in a structured manner. But research ( ) has shown that there are many different learning styles, characterised by how the learner learns. Theories on how one learns include; the behaviourist theory which views learning as a passive process. Behaviour is changed by positive reinforcement of each step in a series of carefully sequenced stages until 'learning' has occurred. A traditional teaching method of drill and practice or chalk and talk are indicative of the behaviourist theory of learning. The cognitive theory of learning suggests that learning is an active process, involving thinking and mental processes. ...read more.

Middle

Old and new social issues demand an informed, concerned and empowered learner. This has brought with it many positives and negatives. We have become more aware of our environment and our position within the global community. Due to this increased awareness, as a result of distant cultures and countries being within our reach and theirs, our knowledge and caring of the global environment will become a part of everyone's lives. Highlighted by, the destruction that we are baring witness to now, caused by our ignorance and over-use of natural resource. Learners in the new times need to forge strong links with their local and national communities; they will need to have a social and ethical conscience with a strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others. Actively negating their own learning pathways as they progress through the stages of schooling (Shared Journal, pg13). The learner needs to be flexible and adaptable, problem solvers with a critical and reflective way of thinking. We live in a media-saturated society, in a world of infotainment and spectacle. Students today live in a contemporary world, a blend of "old" and "new" information environments, they draw from diverse sources of information, means of communication and community engagements, suggesting that learning, information exchange and production occurs in a socially interactive community (Luke 2003). "Multimodal readings and experiences of the world begin in infancy and constitute the social practices in everyday life" (Luke, p2 (2003)). Our schools have been left behind ( or had been left behind) for they are or were one of the few places were curriculum and timetables discouraged children from blending, mixing and matching knowledge drawn from diverse textual sources and communications media. It is because of this that imparting knowledge has had to reconceptualise. The content and the way in which it is administered has become the centre of pedagogy. Pedagogy, being the integration, in practice of particular curriculum content and design, classroom strategies and techniques, and evaluation, purpose and methods (McLaren p189). ...read more.

Conclusion

Contrary to this, Kincheloe etal (2000) suggests that educators should understand that no one curricular program, regardless of how sound the pedagogical content is, will be able to address the needs of all segments of the school community. Kincheloe etal (2000; p45) continues, by suggesting that the curriculum must move away from rigidity and conformity and aim at the sociocultural context that will have an influence on the spirits and consciousness of those struggling to survive and flourish and amidst the trauma and marginalisation of contemporary education. So it seems that the learner in new times needs to be self-regulated, (so that they are able to take charge of their own learning), intrinsically motivated and have a willingness to learn, they must be able to utilise the technologies of today and adapt to an ever changing world. The teacher or educator must be well informed of the different learning styles that will be present in the classroom. Differentiating one's instruction, so as to meet the needs of every child (Tomlinson 2002) by appealing to differing interests, by using varied rates of instruction along with varied degrees of complexity. This then ensures that student competes against themselves as they grow and develop, more that they would compete against other students (Tomlinson, 2002, p21). I can't help but wonder are we wrapping them up in cottonwool, protecting them against too much? Isn't more fun to know that you have achieved a highest score or mark in relation to others within your class, instead of knowing that your mark, compared to your last results have increased. Don't we need something to measure it against? Or would you be content with your own competition? Everyone says that it's not about wining the race but being part of it, but really are we just kidding ourselves by suggesting that being part of it gives just as much satisfaction as wining. Upon reflection, I know or feel that learning in the new times makes mores sense when we look at the different learning styles of the learner and adapt the pedagogy to suit these styles. ...read more.

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