By Samir Patel (Ph.D)
Lecturer, Royal Thimphu College

October 13, 2012 Numerous factors impact student performance, including socio-economic background, upbringing, quality of the educational system, individual students’ calculations about their future prospects, and of course, teacher performance. Teachers may not be able to control what kind of students they get or even the syllabus they have to cover, but they do control the quality of their own performance, and still have a duty to promote a productive learning environment regardless of a child’s individual circumstances. However, as any teacher will tell you, they can’t be responsible for everything. It has become far too common to think of schools as some sort of black-box machines full of gears (teachers) into which the public can outsource the education of children. We input children in one end and they miraculously come out educated on the other end after a few years – we are least concerned about the inner workings of the machine. Perhaps it is time to consider reducing the role that teachers play in educating children.

I do not mean to advocate decreasing teacher effort by any means, but rather increasing emphasis on other elements such that the relative role of teachers is less. These other elements include students’ own intrinsically motivated efforts, communities, and technology. The importance of student self-learning is clear, and a teacher’s role in inspiring students rather than filling them with facts has been appreciated for thousands of years, if not always implemented: “The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting” – Plutarch. Efforts to change pedagogical styles towards more student-centric approaches are ongoing, but community involvement and technology can also contribute much to student outcomes.

Communities need to be treated as stakeholders in the educational process. This means involving community members in decision-making at schools, as well as expecting them to participate more in their children’s education. Community involvement can be strengthened, for example, by creating Parent-Teacher-Student associations that gather regularly and participate together in the education process and other nurturing activities. Schools could hold more open-houses to get parents more involved. The role of parents can be strengthened through outreach programmes that provide ideas on how they can be more involved in instilling good study habits in their children, especially for those parents that themselves did not go through modern-style education. Technology (specifically computers & internet) can also go a long way towards promoting self-directed learning, when done in collaboration with teacher guidance and community involvement. In this manner, many stakeholders can share the credit and responsibility for students’ learning, without resorting to the sink-or-swim approach, something that is much more common in the college setting and for which students will eventually have to be prepared.

(Published in Bhutan Observer, 13 October 2012)

1 comment to REDUCING ROLE OF TEACHERS (Bhutan Observer)

  • Arungopal

    A good article on role of teachers and other stakeholders on education.
    There is no denying fact that the teacher plays a vital role in the education of the children. And the rest can supplement the effort of the teacher.
    In fact collective responsibility of the teacher, taught, parents and the policymakers together enhances the quality of education.
    With the privatization of education from primary to tertiary level the competition and quality in private school must enhance. But unfortunately the quality and standards of children in private institutions are far below the govt students. Parent and guardians expect much more such institutions as the fees are regularly revised without any substantial improvements.
    So I feel should play multi-role in the modern commercialized education system.