A student’s take on learning and teaching

I’m often asked what 21st century learning and teaching looks like for teachers and students.

When I was speaking at the 2012 Technology in K-12 Education National Congress in Sydney recently, I had the chance to sit in on the student panel and was impressed to hear our own year 12 student, Mark Elias, from Parramatta Marist High School speak so thoughtfully about his learning.

Four years ago, Parramatta Marist introduced the Project Based Learning (PBL) approach which, in Mark’s opinion, radically changed his learning journey from year 9 onwards.

Mark Elias and myself at the Technology in K-12 Education National Congress earlier this year

I’ve met Mark a few times now and thought he had some great views to share as a learner in one of our schools about how learning and teaching has changed for him and the skills he has developed as a result:

Learning has changed dramatically over my years attending Parramatta Marist. I started at the school in 2007 and was educated ‘traditionally’ which meant a teacher dictating information and the students reciting and regurgitating information.

After spending two years learning under this pedagogy, I was then exposed to a 21st century approach to education. This approach placed perfect emphasis on the three main aspects of a classroom: the students, the teacher and collaboration.

Students were taught the importance of adaptive thinking via discussing ideas in groups; not only strengthening their ability to think but also their ability to work effectively in groups.

The change was abrupt which forced the teachers to learn with the students, eliminating the tension between a teacher who knew everything and a student who knew nothing.

As the school and the teachers progressed with 21st century learning pedagogies, students’ learning was shaped positively – not only could they know the content, they could understand and apply it.

Using technology is imperative in this learning approach as it breaks down all barriers around what a classroom is, where it starts and ends; learning takes place via Skype discussion and emails with students constantly wanting others’ perspective on answers to help shape their own thinking and approaches.

2 thoughts on “A student’s take on learning and teaching

  1. I was present when Mark spoke at the 2012 Technology in K-12 Education National Congress in Sydney. He has inspired me as a teacher and as a learner. I would encourage Mark to continue expressing his thoughts. His presentation was one of the best professional development opportunities I have experienced. Thank you for sharing another learning conversation with us.

    1. Glad to hear that Mark has inspired you in your learning and teaching. Yes, it’s great that our students can be so articulate about how they are learning. These kinds of analytical skills will be highly sought after in the 21st century workplace.

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