Rethinking Education: Part 1

A way to redesign our educational system for the future

Strong relationships are built on the foundation of trust and care. When you can trust someone who cares for you/you care for, it elevates your personal growth and gives you the freedom to fail and learn from your mistakes.

However, when it comes to the relationship between students and professors…it’s a bit complicated.

Students, spend so much time on grades and professors, the professionals of their field, spend most of their time on grading and material prep that they both lose sight on nurturing this significant relationship.

They’re building a wall of misunderstanding between themselves, rather than a bridge of communication.

They’re both frustrated, intimidated, tired, disengaged and angry at the current educational environment. They don’t know how to talk to one another, creating the problem for both students and teachers even before they step into the classroom.

So what’s the solution? For that, we need to forget about the pre-existing notion of student-teacher relationship — we need to rethink it.

Focusing on Student-Teacher Relationship

Students are afraid of speaking to professors because they feel intimidated.

Why? Because they don’t feel comfortable talking to and challenging their professors.

Why? Because they don’t know their professors and what they’re like outside of class. They forget that the professor is a human being.

Instead of advocating for a stronger communication between professors and students, our system is focusing on lecturing, supremacy, and grading. This makes students feel powerless and as a result, it makes them think twice before approaching their professors.

Let’s not give students a green light as most don’t speak up for their education. Most students rather stay quiet when they’re confused in a lecture than speak up to get clarification.

This relationship needs to begin with students wanting to learn and stand up for their education. This could be done if and when the professors advocates a student-driven learning environment.

Student-Driven Learning

Why do students not feel comfortable raising their hands when they’re lost in a class? Because they’re afraid of looking stupid.

Why is that? Because they don’t feel comfortable with their professors and classmates. They’re afraid that they’re dumb for not understanding a concept, even though half of the class is confused just like them.

The problem is that students and professors haven’t nurtured their relationship. Here’s what they should do.

If a professor allows their students to have an input into class material and learning, this will indicate professor’s interest in students’ learning over class learning objectives. This leads to higher attendance and retention in class because students feel that their professor cares about them (backed up by professors who’ve experimented with this in past).

How about engagement? For that, professors need to inspire students to learn instead of forcing them to learn. If students are excited to learn, they’re more willing to participate, collaborate, and help each other out.

This means no traditional lectures — they don’t seem to work, said multiple professors who research into how students learn in classrooms. Instead, give students that power of learning (having control over their education). That means to allow students to lead conversations about topics, ask questions, present, group activities.

“But wait, most classes already do that!”

Yes, you are right. But we’re currently forcing students to do it, not inspiring them to. To do that, professors need to show interest in students’ learning and present material students are interested in (more on that in my next story).

What about professors? Well, there should be no professors — there should be only mentors.

✌🏼 Professors. 👋🏼 Mentors!

Instead of promoting student-professor relationship, we need to cultivate a mentor-mentee relationship.

Students don’t want lecturers, they want mentors. They want mentors who can allow them to make mistakes and learn, and guide them when they’re in help.

Instead of lecturing and assigning homework, assign resources to help students learn, whether it’s a resource they find useful or students from previous class found useful (given that students are inspired to drive their own learning).

This means both the students and professors need to provide constructive feedback to each other so students could become better students and mentors/professors could become better mentors/professors.

Good mentors share knowledge, experiences, networks, and resources that help students adjust to and progress beyond their classrooms.

This is a win-win for both. Students get to learn about concepts they want to learn and the professor can spend more time focusing on students and providing them with best guidance and resources.

This is simply a mindset change, but it requires open-mindedness from both professors and students. Professors need to realize that lectures don’t work. Students need to realize that they need to take charge of their education.

This is a first step into rethinking the new blueprint of our educational system. At the end, everything begins & ends within classrooms and what happens inside them is what matters the most.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
— William Arthur Ward
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