I ATTENDED a seminar on “Empowering English Language Teachers to Become 21st Century Educators” at a public university recently.
The discussion was an eye-opener as the speaker shared his experiences, opinions and hopes on the topic.
The speaker highlighted four pillars of education for the 21st century – to know, to do, to live together and to be.
As teachers impart knowledge to the millennial generation, these four primary purposes of learning should be the focus in producing balanced individuals who are able to value the learning experience by exercising healthy and exemplary lifestyles and upholding strong virtues.
As we work on creating an education system that is not too academic so that meaningful and lifelong learning can take place, to solely concentrate on equipping learners with knowledge is not enough. Under the concept of “learning to do”, they need to apply their knowledge creatively and appropriately in real life, provided that their actions and decisions can benefit others.
Their ability to understand the knowledge they gain should teach them to live together, respect one another and develop a strong willingness to learn about other cultures, traditions and values as far as our plural society is concerned.
They should realise that discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping will lead to disharmony and disunity.
Education should shape the learners’ personality and develop their thinking abilities to help them become well-mannered, wise, humble and passionate persons whose yearning to discover new knowledge never fades.
When learners succeed to meet the fourth objective of “learning to be”, they are unlikely to be easily influenced by negative peers who will manipulate inquisitive and immature minds to engage in enjoyable but unworthy habits and hobbies.
The resistance from these bad influences will help reduce youth involvement in crime and immoral activities.
While educators need to cope with new challenges and tensions in educating different types of learners of Generation Y, English teachers need to ensure that students are proficient in the language without eroding their roots and losing their national identity, especially their acquired skills in speaking their mother tongues.
This effort of preserving the beauty of the first language and originality of the culture, tradition and customs with which they grow up should not be given less attention and importance.
At the end of the day, our mother tongue will be endangered and worse, the next generation will not be able to converse in their mother tongues, let alone, be fluent in using the language.
Nevertheless, these challenges should not make English teachers resort to applying limited strategies in helping students master their second language.
Instead, the teachers should stay motivated and explore creative and effective pedagogy that include both western and local contexts while helping learners reason the purpose of learning.
Teachers need to conduct researches and consider suggestions from experts as they strive to accomplish the goal of producing intellectuals with excellent proficiency in both national and international languages.
Muhamad Solahudin Ramli , Marang The STAR Home News Letters 30 November 2015