Education is the pillar our modern society is built upon. Without it, none of the advancements we take for granted would exist. We would not be where we are today as a species. But the system of education has been shifting and changing and growing for hundreds of thousands of years. But this does not mean it is anywhere near perfect, or even that good. Our current education system is very much based off a capitalist system that seeks to educate by piling information onto a student and then rolling out standardised tests. A flawed and often criticised system. But this is where active learning comes in.
What is it?
Active learning is a term that encompasses any teaching style that aims to get a student more involved in the learning process. This does not simply mean getting them to turn up to school. It means the students are a key part of the lesson process. They are not simply fed information and expected to take notes. Most traditional schools already utilise a minor aspect of active learning in the form of asking questions. Getting students to think of an answer is getting them to actively engage. But how is this method being taken further?
How is it Used?
A lot of progressive schools and tutors are creating lesson plans that utilise active learning to a much higher degree. Educational games are a fantastic way of getting a student involved. For younger students, teachers often play a game of this or that to stimulate memory and association within the student. Other games, such as pairs, picture association and word search are other great ways of getting students actively involved.
For older students, teachers are holding their lessons in a more forum discussion system, rather than a lecture. They will ask the students to come prepared with the information they have studied on the topic and then, as a group, will discuss and ask questions to the teacher, and each other. This is a great way to get them viewing the topic from their own point of view while also opening their mind up to the views of their classmates.
Why it Works
Different students approach learning differently. It is a mix of nature and nurture in how they learn. It is impossible to find a ‘one size fits all’ approach to teaching. And this is why active learning works. It allows students and teachers to discover what works for them and create a more open, and friendly environment that takes into consideration the needs of every student, not just those with more traditional learning capabilities.
Active learning can often be more fun and engaging than someone simply rattling off a bit list of information. At young ages, children are more inclined to give their attention and learning powers, to something that entertains them. Active learning has been proven to improve information retention in activities where the students are having fun while learning. This is why educational games and lessons where students participate are favoured by progressive educators.
Challenging the System
A lot of the older, more traditional educators, push back against active learning, citing that the system has worked for hundreds of years so it does not need changing. These people fail to see that the current educational systems have failed, past tense. Millions of people every year feel failed by their educational systems and wish for a change in how the world deals with education. It is a right, not a privilege that should be accessible to only those suited to deal with the current system. This is why active learning is causing such an upheaval in the education circles. It is challenging the systems that are currently maintained by powerful institutions and people who have been in the field for countless years. But it seems active learning is steamrolling its way across the globe and will soon become the major, and accepted, method of teaching. Particularly in schools for younger children. Active learning is also encouraging more young people to look at turning to a career in education. Now that their lessons can be fun and engaging, they are more willing to dedicate their lives to the noblest of professions.