August 19, 2016

Why there’s more to education than good grades

As Mark Twain once said, “Under no circumstances should we blind ourselves to reality. Nor should we take it as a thing of the past. A mistake remains a mistake as long as it remains uncorrected.”
This is very apt in the context of Myanmar’s education system, which has changed very little despite official proclamations to the contrary. Whilst we recognise the failings of the rote-based national education system, there hasn’t been a genuine shift to student-centred learning.
There’s a well-known saying in Myanmar that goes like this: “Any disease, once diagnosed, can be cured”. Why can’t we improve the education system with this optimism in mind? What is stopping us from implementing change?
Despite the Ministry of Education’s stated enthusiasm for introducing a revised national education system, some teachers still feel reluctant to embrace such as change. They cling stubbornly to good-for-nothing rote learning and oblige young people to memorise line after line, word after word. All this achieves is the erosion of students’ curiosity and motivation.
Student-centred learning is an approach whereby teachers foster a love of learning and analytical capabilities in their students, rather than a narrow-eyed pursuit of good grades. In other words, teachers are responsible for constructing real-life tasks that motivate students to learn about the real world and how to solve problems. Students need to be convinced that the lessons being taught are relevant to their lives. This isn’t an unreasonable source of motivation.
Student-centred learning demands higher academic standards from teachers and greater engagement from students. It is understandable that teachers and students alike need time to adapt themselves to such a drastic change of approach. Both sides should start taking small steps towards realising a brighter future for our country’s students.


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