Teaching-Learning

Teachers as Lifelong Learners

Teacher and lifelone learners
Masum Billah
Written by Masum Billah

Why should teachers also be lifelong learners? Well first and foremost, teachers are role models. If teachers aren’t interested and intrinsically motivated by the learning process, their students’ should not feel interested to learn anything new.  This subject can be broken down into four main points.

Why teachers also need to be learners- (i) to improve teaching style. Teaching style changes with the passage of time, topic and suitability of the topic. (ii) to keep up to date: teachers must be well acquainted with the latest way of teaching techniques. The world advances fast. To keep pace with the latest norm of technique and most modern way of teaching, teachers must study. As it does not have a particular limit, it continues throughout the life of a teacher. (iii) To remain enthusiastic: Teaching must not be made a boring job. If it becomes boring to a teacher, it does not only harm his/her own profession much but also it harms seriously the young learners who will get a negative idea of the teaching-learning process having a serious negative impact on the future generation. (iv) to give something back to the community: The community expects to get something new from the teachers. They don’t want to see a similar kind of learning or teaching style always. They will always expect something new, innovative and effective from a teacher.

Whilst I am not advocating that every teacher undertake some kind of postgraduate degree, I do think it is necessary for teachers to put themselves in the position of learners regularly. Putting yourself in the position of learners, the non-expert, allows you to see the world in a different way. A good teacher may not think that throughout his life he will conduct his teaching in the same way. Rather he should conduct research on his way of delivering the classes. Every time newer ways and means need to be devised and invented to hold the attention of the class and to bring novelty when a teacher delivers. He never can think that he is a good teacher and so his way of teaching should be static and no change is needed. If it is done, the process of his/her further professional development will become static.

Your classroom should instil the ability and desire to become a lifelong learner. There are many methods that you can help your students move in the direction of obtaining the attributes of a lifelong learner. Some of the attributes of a lifelong learner are:

Active investigator

You need to teach your students to initiate questions or hypothesis about a particular topic. The students will need to use a variety of method to locate, collect, sort and record information. The last step would be to draw some sort of conclusion for the information obtained. Being an active investigator will help children to become lifelong learners.

Critical thinker

As a classroom, you will need to help your students use a variety of strategies to analyze and synthesize information. From their research, they will need to judge the date to see if it is useful for the question at hand. Becoming a critical thinker will help children be lifelong learners.

Self-directed learner

You can help your students by considering their learning styles, their prior knowledge, and their strengths and weaknesses. This will help your children plan and organize their own thinking. Being a self-directed learner will help children become lifelong learners.

Effective communicator

Your students will need to demonstrate and express one’s feelings, thoughts and ideas concerning a topic of investigation. Your students need to work in collaboration to help facilitate good communication. Being an effective communicator will help children become lifelong learners.

As a teacher, I’m sure that we live in an information-rich society. In the past teachers were the dispenser of information but time has changed. To help children become lifelong learners, the teacher needs to show students how to do with the countless pages of information, how to analyze the information, how to critically think about the information and to be able to use the information.

As you consider the value of becoming a lifelong learner you see quickly that children need repeated practice with real-world scenarios and guidance to foster the attributes of the active investigator, critical thinker, self-directed learner and effective communicator. These attributes will help strengthen the desire and the ability to become lifelong learners.

Teaching for understanding, multiple intelligences, critical and creative thinking, and assessment of learning and learning through the arts are very important points in the process of lifelong learners.  It is a fast-paced and intense program of plenary sessions, mini-courses and study groups where researchers shared their most current findings with educators from twenty-five countries and thirty –states. Teachers in their first few years of experience are particularly vulnerable to the challenges and pressures of developing effective teaching skills while attempting to contribute to the building and maintaining of a professional learning community. These factors are also important to those who are experienced in the classroom, but to the new teacher, it may make the difference between staying in or leaving the profession. If indeed, an effective teacher is, the most important factor in producing consistently high levels of student achievement (Alliance for Excellent Education 2004, Fullan, 1999). It is incumbent upon those in the profession to explore ways to strengthen the existing practices in schools designed to inculcate new teachers into effective practice and the culture of the school. Novice teachers need high quality, sustained professional development at the beginning and throughout their careers. This is an especially important factor if a novice is assigned to a more experienced mentor teacher who may have been demoralized in the past, not only by seemingly endless educational changes but by professional development perceived as irrelevant, ineffective and unrelated to the rigours and responsibilities of everyday life in the classroom.

Teachers must skillfully navigate the uncertain waters of today’s accountability movement and all the while carving out a personally satisfying, growth –orientated place in the field of education. Lifelong learning is a way of instruction and a way of life. Professional educators must revisit this foundational tenet and create a vision of lifelong learning as it informs day to day instruction. If society‘s concern is to improve quality in education and to foster creative, enterprising, innovative, self-reliant young people, with the capacity and motivation to go on as lifelong learners, then this will not happen unless the corps of teachers are themselves challenging, innovative and lifelong learners. Novice teachers as lifelong learners will likely experience increased confidence and security. Developing as a lifelong learner provides novice teachers with a two-fold call to duty. (i) to strengthen and enrich their own knowledge and skills as educators and (ii) to impress upon their students the importance and value of learning across the lifespan.

The concept and actuality of lifelong learning have stirred interest and procured favour from antiquity to modern times. In some respects, one cannot stop oneself from being a lifelong learner as we are constantly learning simply by the act of living and making our way through each day. However, there is little agreement as to what actually constitutes lifelong learning in a more structured or productive sense, what is of true value to learn and how to prepare for lifespan learning. A lifelong learner is one who typically exhibits a love of learning for its own sake, voluntary participates in learning activities, demonstrates the ability to be self-directive and reflective, and sustains engagement in learning enterprises—qualities that are expressed regardless of personal or social circumstances.

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as a Program Manager in BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and Vice-President of Bangladesh English Language Teachers’ Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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