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Is the school model really in need of rethinking? After all, why rethink a model that works relatively well? For Shawn McCusker, education leader and trainer for professional development company EdTechTeacher, the reason mainly stems from the relationship we have with information. On this subject, he signs the article Teaching in the New (Abundant) Economy of Information on the MindShift site. Here is a summary of what he said.
Historically, the teacher was a master at finding information and passing it on to his students. The school and the teacher were therefore the source of content for the student. With the advent of the web and mobile devices, access to knowledge has changed completely.
Teaching in an environment of scarcity
The current school model was put in place at a time when information was scarce. The knowledge was held by the teacher, in the few books he owned and in the few libraries. One can easily imagine the first row schools in Quebec at the beginning of the 19th century. For more than 150 years, these small schools have enabled children in the countryside to obtain the necessary knowledge in basic subjects (French, mathematics, history, geography). These children did not have access to knowledge outside of this small wooden building. Some privileged people could aspire to move to the city for classical studies which led to the liberal or ecclesiastical professions.
Twenty years ago, most schools did not have a computer lab. In order for students to research, they had to go to the library and find books that spoke about their subject. Highly interesting books, but which were sometimes outdated since the field had evolved.
In this era of scarcity, the teacher had to have a highly important currency in the bank: time! It was with a lot of time that he could search and collect a scarcity of information and present it to his students. It was the era of the golden age of teacher-centered education.
The new economy of abundance
Today, the amount of information available at your fingertips is staggering. The company Google has set itself the task of organizing this information. In 2012, it indexed in its servers over 30 trillion documents. Are all these documents relevant? Obviously not. On the other hand, the Internet is filled with hundreds of reliable and really serious sources. A teacher who wants to continue to present his subject in a masterful way does so in direct competition with this wealth of information, which otherwise is an opportunity to make students active rather than passive.
Finally, the author sees the new role of the teacher in relation to this information. According to him, the teacher must become a chief analyst, a validation coach, a research assistant, a master of differentiation and a creator of shared learning experiences. Isn't that interesting?