21st Century classroom, Teachers and Students

Knowledge is Like Coffee – Thoughts on Being a Teacher

Recently, I am having teachers training at HKU SPACE. It is a series of lectures teaching us how to prepare our classes. They are intended to prepare us to adapt better with technology and social media were unseen in classroom environment even just few years ago. Here’s a clip might better explain how classroom and learning have changed:

21st Century Classroom

For me, after a few lectures, my takeaway was that in our time, classroom is no longer the only place for education to happen. Technology and social media changed our way that passing of knowledge is no longer confined in classroom environment. Meanwhile, with information coming up more rapidly in various forms, the pace of learning become more rapid than the pace of creating content for classroom teaching. That is why the role of being a “teacher” and the action of “teaching” become more challenging than ever before, both are evolving fast.

…classroom will become the place to inspire students,  less about the content…

Classroom will still be the centre of focus when comes to teaching and learning. However, it is no longer the only place but become the hub for learning – with teaching happening in the classroom and students develop their knowledge branching out from classroom environment to the internet, peers and everyday observations. Therefore, I think, the function of the classroom will become the place to inspire students,  less about the content, but more about giving students insights of why the course they are take is interesting and matters to them. Classroom environment might no longer be the place where we stuff textbook content to students for exams. Rather, it will be the place to draw their attention, make them aware where to get information and make them ask questions.

Teachers become Facilitators

For us as teachers, our role evolved and our task is no longer solely be the knowledge provider – books, internet and social media are there to help us. Students do learn a lot outside of the classroom environment but barely in a curated way. That makes us being important in providing them a “mind drawer” to put things into prospectives. And no, it is not trying to restrict them to think in certain order or format, but rather giving them a way to organize and to reorganize the things they observed around them. Teachers become the facilitators for students to develop a network of knowledge rather than how we learnt at schools, teachers can be wrong and no one there to remind us of this!

Along that, I do believe teachers will benefit immensely from being the facilitator. As knowledge are developing more rapidly than ever before, we no longer have those happy days as our professors would use the same textbook over and over again and selling you the idea that “good things never change” – I am sure many of us experienced that before (At least I did, in multiple times in multiple countries). Of course there will the so called “textbook” materials of facts and theories that will be un-change, but how we present it and what examples we could use are up to us to imagine and to re-imagine. It is up to us being imaginative, or not.

 …Master, Shifu, Jedi, Professor Dumbledore, who are we?

Being said that, it is certainly not in our comfort zone of changing our attitudes of how we are taught as how teachers should behave back in the days. It is even more difficult to admit to students that we might even lag behind from the most cutting edge of knowledge at times. For sure it can feel embarrassing and awkward, but if we think less of ourselves being the Master/Shifu/Jedi/Professor Dumbledore of our teaching subject and being more readily to learn something new, we earn credibility from students, that they know we are forever learning and working hard to keep pace of our knowledge.

Knowledge is Like Coffee

I think knowledge is like coffee, we love it and we will forever like to have a cuppa for pleasure. Teachers are like being a barista – it is both an art and science of making coffee from bean to cup. Students are our customer, they come and go to our coffee shop (aka classroom) for a reason or two and, very likely, drinking coffee might not even for their reasons to come (aka maybe they just want to pass their exams?). While barista do make fuss of the beans, espresso machines and caring of water temperature – your customers will not even notice or border. But certainly the taste of coffee will leave an impression, maybe some will thirst for more, recommend someone to try or even go into great length to learn making coffee, who knows? We are their inspirer for good taste of knowledge!