DSC 1807“What an exciting time to be a teacher,” says Barbara Fisher, Acting Principal of Orana Steiner School. And she’s right; the role of the teacher is changing.

From being the custodian of information imparted to students through lectures, to being a guide and facilitator adept at using questions to deepen understanding. The modern educator’s role is to encourage students to explore and experiment. No longer is education simply about knowledge passed down, it’s about helping students make sense of a world disrupted by new technologies and giving them the tools to bring their creativity to bear on complex problems that we haven’t even thought of.

Not only has the role of teachers changed, but the traditional classroom as we know it is also changing.

“While you will still find classrooms with desks lined up in rows, in the modern school you will also find maker spaces and informal areas for brainstorming and collaboration,” says Barbara.

“For example, here at Orana we have an area in our Design Technology Precinct called the Brainbox where students can explore their ideas by sketching out their initial designs on the walls which are painted in whiteboard paint.

“They then take their ideas and flesh them out using various computer design programs before moving into the workshop and turning those designs into beautiful and functional objects in either the woodwork area or the metalwork forge.”

Barbara believes one of the roles of the modern educator is to move beyond teaching in discrete disciplines to encouraging students to see the links between subjects.

“Being a Steiner school we have always taught in this way through our Main Lesson where students explore a subject in depth for 3-4 weeks and see the links with other subjects, but in the last two years we have also hosted events like Teen Start-Up at the school,” she says.

“Through Teen Start-Up students are provided with the opportunity to explore some of the issues and problems their generation will face and come up with creative solutions.

“Programs like this help students improve their skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and the ability to work in teams – all skills recognised in the General Capabilities section of the Australian Curriculum.”

According to Barbara the challenge will be developing ways to assess those qualities that are not measured by standardised tests such as persistence, curiosity, resilience or self-motivation.

“As educators we are learning alongside our students and in many instances technology is helping us to better meet the students where they are.

“While quality data is allowing us to identify problems early and to tailor our teaching to each child’s pace and ability there is certainly more that can be done.

“By providing a rich curriculum that engages students not only in the content but the process we can offer them an education that prepares them to meet the challenges of the 21st Century”.


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