A New Paradigm in education | Sunday Observer

A New Paradigm in education

20 August, 2017

Traditionally, education is defined as creating a permanent change in the behaviour of a person by infusing knowledge, skill, attitude, aptitude and values to achieve pre-determined goals. According to professionals such as Malcolm Forbes, education should be looked at as follows; “Purpose of Education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” This leads to the need to look at a new paradigm in education in the 21st century (the knowledge century), since the current system is decaying and cannot cope up with the challenges posed to the system today and tomorrow.

The key words in an education system are the Industry need, the Learner, the Learning environment, Motivation and Employability. The gap in the industry needs and the educational system production is directly proportional to unemployment. Therefore, Industry needs analysis is an essential component in organizing effective educational programs. Prediction of Industry needs and job analysis will inform educators the exact skill-set required by future employees which will be a great help to them.

The second area to consider is identifying the learner, which would be the profile of the candidate that arrives as an input to the educational program. The learner profile includes Language competency, English literacy, Intellectual capability, IT literacy and the learning styles of the candidate. The current system definitely focuses on the mentioned areas except the learning styles of the student.

Our brain is the main organ responsible for learning and each part of the brain has special areas to perform certain tasks of the nervous system. For example, the back of the brain (the occipital area) controls vision and the side of the brain (the parietalarea) is responsible for speech. Similarly, different types of learning involve specific areas of the brain. Prof. Howard Gardner of Harvard University produced a theory called “Multiple Intelligence” where he discovered seven distinctive learning styles. According to this theory,”students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform and understand in different ways.”

The theory specifically identifies that people with different learning styles would absorb their education according to their ability. Current learning methodologies of the Asian region are ‘Linguistic’ and ‘Logical’ teaching methods. In other words, the teaching methodology is through verbal, written and mathematical forms. In case the student’s learning styles does not coincide with these two styles, he or she would not understand the material taught but will also not be successful in exams since they are conducted in written and logical methods. Therefore, understanding the learning styles is an important component in organizing the learner profile of the candidate. The other learning styles of this theory include visual (pictures), musical thinking (the use of music for learning), spatial (practical work ), interpersonal ( group work) and intra personnel (individual work ), where each individual would differ through the strength of these intelligences – or the so-called profile of intelligences - and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.

Assessing of the learning styles could be done through ten minute tests through www.acceleratedlearning.com. Therefore, current teaching methods have to diversify by not only using reading, writing and logical analysis, but also through the use of videos, music, practical sessions, group work and individual work.

The third area to be considered is the learning environment, where all the resources are directed to obtain the maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the educational program. Today, learning is geared towards convergent thinking, where there is only one answer to a question and students are trained under confined environments. According to Sir Ken Robinson, from the University of Warwick, UK, students today are distracted by multiple information inputs from mobile phones, social media, television, written media and through many other channels. Understandably, the teachers become uninterestingto the students and therefore teachers would force them to study in this environment by anesthetizing them. Ideal learning environment should be teaching when the students open their senses in an aesthetic environment (for example, when you see a movie or a drama). This creates a direction of the learning environment supporting divergent thinking, an essential capacity for creativity, where there would be many answers to a question.

Another important component of modern learning is collaborative learning, where many brains intermingle and exchange ideas for learning. This is a very effective learning method where group studies and group assignments will motivate and get the students to a higher level. Further, this method will move the teacher centric learning to student centric learning where the learning systems are far more effective. For this to happen, the education system should support to improve English and IT literacy among the students, which would enhance the access of the whole world’s education to the students’ fingertips.

It is said if the educator could create an emotion in the learner, the topic in learning will be best remembered. Therefore organizing Problem Based Learning, through real case scenarios and reflections of the industry educators are some of the strategies utilized by the new world education.Furthermore, taking students out of the class room to the industry through Community Based Learning and Industry Placements, will support students in gaining hands on experience and build confidence to be industry ready.

The world is moving towards Evidence Based Learning whereresearch is a core component of most of the educational programs. Stimulating students to pursue research will definitely improve their logical, analytical skills and also serve as an additional qualification, or rather “a feather in their cap” in their CV.

Time is a short for today’s world and E-learning is an essential component that will support learners add qualifications to their resume in this busy world. This would immensely support today’s learnerswho tend to have a “digital mind” which works at “downloading speeds” of computers. Furthermore, e learning provides improved accessibility to tomorrow’s knowledge in the global context. In Asia, Hybrid learning is coming into the limelight, where both face-to-face and E-learning is conducted in combination for an effective outcome compared to theprimary and secondary learning done in traditional class room setting.

(The writer is a Consultant Medical Administrator and is an Academic with Certified Master Trainer qualification from Australia. Having visited many leading education institutes in the world, he is well-travelled and possesses a wide range of knowledge in the Health and Education Systems globally. He also has many publications on Education. Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe is the CEO and Founder of International Institute of Health Sciences, Sri Lanka’s premium International University Learning Centre).