Creating Deeper Learning In the Classroom

                                         Narayan Prasad Sapkota

                                         Educator I Teacher I Trainer  

In the Nepal, thousands of middle and high school students attend schools that don’t match the reality of their lives. By their teenage years, young people should be solving complex problems, thinking critically about tough concepts, and communicating their ideas effectively. Yet, our schools are organized to be lecture-based, encouraging students to simply memorize facts and follow rules. The evaluation system of Nepal is also not scientific. Its tests our memory power but not our skills.

Deeper Learning is a set of student outcomes that includes mastery of essential academic content; thinking critically and solving complex problems; working collaboratively and communicating effectively; having an academic mindset, and being empowered through learning. This more robust and responsive educational experience offers a new framework for educators and schools to rise to the challenge of preparing students for college, careers, and the world today. Very few of the educational institutions in Nepal are going towards this approach. As most of the educators have a readymade answers saying that parents, teachers and students are not ready for this change. This is simply a scapegoat answer.  There is need that parents need to invest on their child’s future. No doubt it takes time to change mindset of ages but isn’t impossible either.

Deeper learning can be maintained through varies approaches and strategies. Project Based learning, Problem Based learning or Inquiry Based Learning. In addition to applying what they have learned, they must be able to overcome obstacles such as complex interpersonal and multi-cultural relations of today’s world, as well as global socio-economic issues that affect everyone. This is why the role of teachers is more important than ever. Helping those master deeper learning skills is crucial, so following strategies can be applied in the context of Nepal to maximize the deeper learning.

1. Create a Community of Learners

The development of strong school communities is essential for students to evolve from playing a passive role in their education to being active, self-directed learners. A strong teachers’ learning and sharing culture should be developed. Teachers or faculty members should integrate the multidisciplinary approaches in curriculum, activities and assessment.   To create a more cohesive, genuinely collaborative school environment, blend support and trust with high expectations and a collective responsibility for learning. Teachers should and can inspire students to care about each other’s success; re-orient students to the value of learning and self-direction through various school wide activities, messaging, and rituals; involve older students as mentors, models, and guides; establish norms for constructive learning feedback and reflection, and design the building to reflect an environment that promotes openness and collaboration. Nevertheless parents and guardians are also major aspects of this approach.

2. Activate Students to Lead Their Own Learning

Several activities can be conducted inside the classrooms. The best approach might be problem solving approaches like students’ Quality circles, Inquiry Based strategies, panel discussions, mock elections. Peer evaluation is another powerful tool. Recently Satellite method has been quite popular inside classrooms. Group works, presentations, speakers club, extempore, elocution are different strategies and approaches in the classrooms. Teachers must constantly shift roles, from curriculum design to advising to coaching to networking, and so on.

3. Use Themes

Themetic Learning is one of the powerful tool ,especially in pre-schools and primary levels. Evidence supports the fact that learning becomes more meaningful–with deeper understanding of material–when material is personally relevant and subjects are integrated. Subjects are not taught in isolation and instead learning is connected to larger themes, concepts and across multiple subjects and apply their learning to real-world issues and problems. This method becomes very successful when grade teaching is done. A teacher can incorporate multidisciplinary approaches. Main theme is think globally act locally.  

4. Network Beyond School Walls

Reaching beyond classroom walls helps provide students with a more holistic learning experience. As consummate networkers, teachers scout opportunities for their students and tap local resources like museums and corporations that match the schools learning philosophy as well as students’ interests and projects, generate extended networks of support and learning for students, and help them explore potential career paths through internships or mentorships. Short trips, excursions, talk show can be conducted. This will help to connect words to the world.

5. Personalize the Learning

A teacher should be role model for their students. The personalities of teacher affect a lot either positively or negatively. A teacher is inspirer, motivator and idol for students. A teacher should be transformer. In order to tailor learning to meet individual students’ educational needs and aspirations, teachers should seek out and develop a balanced knowledge of each student’s unique tendencies, circumstances and interests through both formal processes(advisories) and informal processes (including casual conversations, insight from parents or other teachers) means. Effective communication with parents’ students and authorities are keys to know the students.

6. Make Technology the Servant, Not the Master

Deeper Learning incorporates technology purposefully to enhance, rather than automate learning. This happens in several ways, among them using programs and applications that build students’ research and critical thinking skills, offer digital methods to design projects, collaborate and communicate within and outside of the school, and broaden students’ options for presenting work creatively and connecting with multiple experts. In all of these cases, technology is used as a tool to drive student learning. We should master the technology not the technology.

Deeper learning is definitely the way of the future, because current learning models aren’t capable of keeping with the demands that the world of the future will have in store for our children. That is why it’s up to education leaders, as well as teachers, to prepare the students for the real world, by introducing and applying learning models which are much more practical and based on real learning, not just simple reproduction. It is a strategy that will pay off in the long run.