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Escaping the Shackles: What can we learn from Education Policy Institute findings by Abhi Arya

When the Education Policy Institute published its findings last month, I wasn’t surprised to hear that teachers are now working up to 60 hour weeks on a regular basis. Education remains one of the only industries that has failed to come out of centuries-old shackles and embrace digital. The main culprit for this is a lack of teacher training and, more importantly, a lack of funding and time to support that training.

While we in the edtech industry keep talking about Education 2.0 and concepts such as flipped classrooms, more teacher-student collaboration and project-based learning, teachers are not fully equipped to take on the challenge that these tools and techniques provide; especially when it comes to online tools.

When we look around, digital enhancements have made it deep in every industry – automobile, health, telecom, retail – and fact revolutionized each of them. Yet, the £4 trillion education industry has been slow on the uptake for many reasons, including the high cost of implementing edtech initiatives, coupled with tight budgets and structural resistance of a traditional system.

What’s clear is that teachers need more support from the decision makers to reduce those exhaustive hours, which threaten to turn potential new teachers of a rewarding and socially necessary career path. I believe there are four ways we can look to address this:

Reformatting education 1.0 to education 2.0:

Teachers themselves are trying to keep up with current technology, but the support systems available to them such as IT helpdesks and product help are too weak to help speed up the learning curve. We need to move away from teaching in a manufacturing era to teaching in a digital services era.

Relevant teaching:

A large number of jobs that exist today, such as social media manager, did not exist 10 years ago and we have no idea of the jobs that will exist in the future. As educators, we need to prepare kids for the future by equipping them with 21st century skills such as collaboration, virtual team work and communication. Most importantly, we need to equip teachers with the teaching tools to deliver those skills.

Make teaching sexy again:

While current teachers are passionate about education, we need to reinstate teaching as a lucrative and attractive career choice for generation Z and beyond. Statistics such as those revealed by the Education Policy Institute aren’t productive in inspiring a new generation of educators. We need to rebrand teaching as a job of the future, creating deep links with teaching as relevant and cool, while keeping teachers at the cutting edge of tools and technology.

Empower and equip teachers:

Decision makers, whether they be headmasters or policy makers, have to provide continuous access to resources and tools that help teachers deliver better lessons. Not just preparing them to teach, but giving them the tools that support personalized lessons, customized assessment, and content creation. We must also deliver the resources such as digital lesson plans, worksheets, and videos that engage students and give teachers their free time back.

When it comes to modern education, just the right change can create an environment in which teaching is not taxing and all consuming, but rewarding and satisfying – for all stakeholders. And everyone from policy makers to school principals need to unite to make it happen.