Despite the advent of technology and recommendations made by educationists-cum-researchers who have carried out empirical studies on the importance of applying new techniques in educating the millennial generation of students, some teachers still believe in traditional teaching methods.
From my observation, students love to talk, play and move around; this keeps them happy and energetic. While some teachers perceive students as lazy, rambunctious, useless and undisciplined, I realise that students need fun to keep them “alive”.
This explains why teacher-centred lessons make students bored. I believe it is time for teachers to ditch old-fashioned ways of teaching and try implementing new methods, as we support the idea of 21st century learning.
The fact that some teachers compare between advanced, intermediate and weak learners, and worse, develop a negative perception towards slow learners, is frustrating, unprofessional and irrelevant.
Many teachers agree that it is easier to teach and carry out activities with good students than those in weak classes, considering the uncontrollable behaviours of hyperactive students and those not interested in their studies but, from my experience, this is usually because teachers plan the wrong activities or lose their passion when teaching students with low proficiency.
Teachers should stop doubting the ability of learners. Take group presentations, for example. Although many believe this student-centred teaching method is only for good students, it is actually applicable to weak learners, too.
They may mumble, lack confidence and be playful during their presentation, but with time, they will improve and find the activity intriguing as they are given the opportunity to share and shine.
All they need is continued encouragement and motivation. Practice makes perfect. Teachers need to realise that by applying a student-centred approach, it will encourage independent learning, which gives learners room and freedom to understand topics, interpret issues, solve problems and suggest solutions, as they develop creative and higher-order thinking skills.
In fact, when students actively participate in classroom activities, it benefits not only their intellectual wellness, but also their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, as teachers get out of the box and carry out activities that activate students’ kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and verbal intelligence.
As long as students are given clear instructions about the task, teachers can take a role as helpful and friendly facilitators, while learners dominate the learning session.
A student-centred approach should be the preference of teachers who wish to stop making students sleep with their eyes open, as they need to be awake to make them think and learn.
Muhamad Solahudin Ramli, Marang, Terengganu. NST Letters to the Editor 9 Jun 2015