With rapid changes in life’s pace, accelerating globalisation, and the challenges of an uncertain future, those in charge of education must meet the needs of young people by preparing them for a rapidly changing world in which the ability to learn is critical (Claxton, 2007). Therefore, schools must reinvent and revitalise learning by adopting a new mindset to create an education system that embraces the digital age and enables students to learn, engage, and thrive (Robinson, 2020).
Developing the Space
How young people learn begins in the educational setting, where teachers create conditions for learning that monitor and assess student progress. Teachers bring not only a toolkit of teaching experience, but they are also enactors of the learning process, developing the framework for learning through knowledge sharing, support, and constructive feedback to maximise the learner’s potential. Teachers have a unique opportunity to adapt and make professional judgments by considering the next step in the learning process.
It is said that teachers are “at the heart of the action” (Bruner, 2002) and are in the best position to effect necessary changes in our educational systems. Bruner (2002) believes that for educational reform to be successful, teachers must play an essential role in shaping its future. This belief in empowering teachers to ensure learning occurs is evident in Finnish schools, where teachers have the freedom to choose, implement, and develop assessment practices in their classrooms (Eteläpelto et al., 2015).
This policy is not the case worldwide, as other countries’ education policies have sought to limit teachers’ ability to exercise complete control over their classrooms. Often governments have taken an evidence-based and data-driven approach, assessing students’ ability to pass summative assessments and evaluating teachers’ performance based on their student’s ability to pass them.
Increasing teachers’ autonomy does appear to make sense. It is likely to result in increased personalisation because teachers can respond to educational and social changes, such as changes in the school community’s demographics or policy changes. Thus, by providing a space for teachers to develop a personal and professional identity that is not fixed or shaped by political reforms, teachers can exercise their agency to evaluate learners’ performance in a dynamic learning environment.
Bruner, J. (2002) Tenets to understand cultural perspective on learning, in Moon, B., Shelton-Mayes, A., Hutchinson, S. (eds), Teaching, Learning and Curriculum in Secondary Schools, London, RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 10–24.
Claxton, G. (2007) Expanding young people’s capacity to learn, British journal of educational studies, 55(2), pp. 115–134. [Online] DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8527.2007.00369.x. (Accessed 24 April 2021).
Eteläpelto, A. Vähäsantanen, K. & Hökkä, P. (2015) How do novice teachers in Finland perceive their professional agency? Teachers and Teaching, 21:6, 660-680, [Online] DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2015.1044327
Robinson, K. (2020) Creating a New Normal (YouTube video, added by The Call to Unite [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUvNTt6crFM (Accessed 25 April 2021).