Breaking the Norm of Direct Teaching

Jul 17, 2019

In a world that constantly updates itself, and takes pride in modern marvels like the inhabitation of mars, flying cars, cyborgs, and smart homes, there still is a field that hasn’t let go off its roots and old patterns, unfortunately so. The same profession that plants the seeds of these tremendous modernization, is ironically still stuck in the past. Teaching, despite the advent of technology and its amalgamation with focus on human minds and its functioning, still redundantly clings to the convenience of direct teaching. The world may have moved forward on the lessons teachers laid for us, but teaching still has a long road ahead. Several teachers today, pretend to be stuck in an era of yesteryears, walking into classrooms with books in hand, only to deliver an hour long lecture and replicate text book content.

Direct teaching is easy for teachers to deliver. It looks convenient, time saving, and doesn’t require much brain storming homework, research, or personalized attention. But the truth is, its effect is far more disappointing. Students don’t choose to listen to the class, but are rather forced to. Irrespective of the type of intelligence, their interests and skills, all students are given the same learning objective, and are expected to learn in the same way. The idea of one size fits all, isn’t just wrong, it can be harmful too. In their growing years, students form opinions about their own selves, their minds, and various other subjects, depending on their experiences. With an approach like direct teaching, students who fail to fit into the mould, may either rebel, or assume the worst about their own skills and abilities.

Direct teaching is easy for teachers to deliver. Everyone is forced to listen, the whole class completes the same learning objective at the same time but unfortunately it fails our students drastically. The way children learn varies so much, that it’s important to allow for each and every child to learn in the way that suits them. Lessons must be delivered in several ways, to allow students to reach their potential, while letting children drift through classroom sessions, and discover which method is right for them at any given time.

Direct teaching has its place, but there are other ways to consider if teachers intend to get the most out of students and their teaching time. Here’s a look at several other forms of teaching, that don’t just appeal to different learning styles, but also develop in students, the interest and hunger for learning.

Emily Roland - Teaching for Transformation

1. Peer Teaching: Just as the name suggests, peer teaching encourages students in a class room, to teach their peers. Done individually, or in groups, exchange of information and knowledge between students doesn’t just reinforce and revise their own learning, but encourages them to understand concepts in depth. Peer teaching also fosters better understanding, respect, and confidence among students.

2. Community Projects: At the heart of all teaching, lies the intention of grooming students for the world out there. Therefore, it’s important to familiarize students with the people and ideas they are being groomed for. Encouraging community projects, and possibly crediting them for the same, will help students learn while also realizing the importance of being better humans. Volunteering at places, participating in donation drives, hosting events for a cause, creating groups to work on a project for good, being involved in activities for social, environmental, animal welfare, can all be excellent learning opportunities for students, and also inculcate empathy in them.

3. Guided Writing: Guided writing involves students in groups, being guided by the teacher, to write about a certain concept, or subject that they learned. Guided writing doesn’t just encourage discussions, introspection, creativity, writing skills, but also appeals to different kinds of learners, helping them approach a subject at their own pace and style.

4. Group Tasks: Students tend to remember, what they participate in, more than what they listen to. Assigning group tasks, such as projects, activities, experiments and discussions, help students delve deeper into the subject, learn to reason, explore, and research. Students that participate in group tasks find learning more engaging, fun, and non monotonous. Group tasks make learning less of a chore, and spark curiosity and enthusiasm, while also inculcating leadership and team player qualities in them.

5. STEAM Lessons: STEAM is an educational approach that integrates Arts with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. First formulated by Georgette Yakman in 2007, it is a formal procedure of integrating different subjects, for better understanding. Teachers may integrated design and arts in subjects, or integrate similar concepts of different subjects through projects, workshops, design. STEAM lessons can be an effective method to help students deal with intimidating subjects.

6. Pick a Country Theme: Geography, Humanity, Culture, and Ethics can be further more interesting in real, than in books. Students of today, would be the future leaders and global citizens of the world, and with increased connectivity and globalization, learning about these countries and their cultures theoretically may not always suffice. To help students learn more about different countries and their people, pick a country theme can be organized in classrooms, where each day in a week, or different weeks, is dedicated to learning about a new country. Following the theme may involve learning more about the country in the classroom, choosing a dressing theme, bringing in the country’s food, playing their sports etc.

7. Independent Tasks and Deadlines: The major drawback with direct teaching, is that it assumes all students to have the same learning style and understanding level. There are several ways for teachers to incorporate students learning styles in the classroom, without having to worry about time and resources. Assigning independent tasks to students, and deciding their deadlines based on their learning style, will help students learn at their own pace, and not get overwhelmed by the unfair competition the traditional classrooms impose on them.

8. Reflection Time: Student centred classrooms encourage students to reflect on what they learned, rather than absorbing information. Dedicating sometime in the class room, to help students reflect what was taught, or dedicating some time while being taught, encourages flexible and critical thinking in them, while also reinforcing learning. Reflection can be done as a group or individually, and through discussions, reviews, journaling.

9. Field Trips: The monotony of classrooms and routine can sometimes come in the way of learning. Field trips can break this monotony, and bring in fresh perspectives while learning. It will also help students see the other side of the concepts being taught, thus sparking an interest in the subject, and making them view it as useful and applicable.

10. Unconventional Learning Material: Relying on textbooks all the time, may bore students, and discourage their enthusiasm of learning from different sources. Introducing different learning material, such as story books, videos, movies, guest speakers, can all break the monotony of everyday reading, and encourage students to keep their minds open to learn from different sources, both inside and outside the class.

There are several ways to make learning more interesting for students. Direct teaching through its convenience, dilutes the intention of teaching. Therefore, it’s highly essential that teachers break this norm, and inculcate different teaching methods in classrooms, for its not just students being taught, but minds being shaped in classrooms. When something as simple as changing a teaching approach, has the potential to impact how the future of tomorrow shapes up, it’s imperative to pause and think – Isn’t it high time we break the norm of direct teaching?

Jiji Tharayil

Writer. Reader. Dreamer.