Agnew teacher Beverley Hume has been teaching for more than 30 years and in that time she has seen a phenomenal number of changes in the educational system. Gone are the days of blackboard and chalk – today’s teaching is all about collaboration and supporting one another in completing tasks, as well as becoming self-directed learners.
“[When I first started], teachers taught masses of theory and the associated skills,” she says. “As my primary teaching areas are Home Economics and Hospitality, there were many practical demonstrations which accompanied theory lessons. Nowadays learning is much more dynamic, with students working in quite different settings and often on a number of tasks simultaneously. Group tasks and projects are more self-directed by the individual students within each group. They share their ideas whilst taking responsibility for making decisions more independently. Of course teachers still monitor, provide support, advice and direction as required.”
It’s not only teaching methods that have changed, but the resources used
by students and staff. “Decades ago we
used encyclopaedias and a range of hard copy reference books,” says Beverley. “In 2017 the focus is on
guiding and supporting students in deciphering which materials are authentic
and accurate, because the internet can be so overwhelming. Computer technology has changed so many
facets of education, especially research and communication.”
Although the world has changed significantly in the past 30 years, and career paths may differ – who knows what skills will be needed in 10 or 20 years’ time? Students still need a range of appropriate skills when it comes to making the most of their educational opportunities.
“The critical skills for students are to keep questioning, analysing,
problem solving and letting their creativity and imaginations run ‘wild’,” says
Beverley. “Our students need to be savvy, resilient and continually striving to
remain in touch with global developments. As Einstein said ‘Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions’.”
With her career spanning three decades Beverley says one of the biggest and most obvious changes she has seen is related to technology. Like others who have had longevity in their teaching careers, Beverley says this aspect of learning was a game changer.
“Technology can be a wonderful tool and both teachers and students love engaging with it” she says. “However, at times access to so much technology can be overwhelming and distracting from the ‘real work’. For adults and children alike, it is extremely easy to be ‘side-tracked’ with technology and waste a great deal of valuable time. My observations have been that technology is engaging, exciting and supportive, however, for many students it does require careful management with time and safety in mind.”
While there are positive and negative aspects of technology, the major positive that Beverley sees is. “We (the student and teacher) tend to work together and share, experiment and find many ways which do not work, before we discover something that does,” she says. “As a teacher in 2017 and beyond, being open, honest and to some extent vulnerable, is important. The main difference now as opposed to 10 years ago is that the teacher is a facilitator and guide rather than a wealth of knowledge to be accessed.”
Moving forward, and with such a wealth of experience accrued over time, Beverley has some advice for those just starting out in their teaching career.
“The advice I would provide to new graduates is to embrace everything; be open to new ideas and challenges, but ultimately ascertain what best suits each individual student in your class,” she says. “Get to know them as individuals, their needs and their varying learning styles. Lastly try to keep up with the younger generation and their interests. Not only will your relationships be more effective, but it keeps you younger as well!”