x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE teaching tactics must keep evolving

Different strategies for teaching in the UAE need to be adopted if the standards are to reach truly world class levels.

Teaching strategies aren’t fixed; they develop and evolve over years. The typical teacher-centred classroom of a decade ago has been superseded, but the key to schooling remains the interaction between a teacher and his or her students, and between the students themselves. Even as new technologies, including laptops and iPads, are added to the educational mix, the personal touch is the most important way to share information and learn skills.

However, teaching methods also differ among cultures. What works in one culture might not work as effectively in another. This was one of the topics of discussion at a forum organised by the Focal Point consultancy in Al Ain this week. As The National reported yesterday, the event brought together about 300 public and private school teachers who were given the opportunity to share their ideas on practical teaching strategies in the context of the UAE.

Discipline was one of the major topics of discussion during the symposium, which heard that authoritarian methods of dealing with students and controlling the learning environment are something from the past. Instead, teachers “have to try to engage [students] to the point that they will want to do what we’re asking them to do”, pointed out Terrence Lorick, a Grade 5 teacher at a government school in Al Ain. Otherwise, he said, children simply won’t listen to what their teachers have to say.

But what are the best way to engage students? Activities such as brainstorming, case studies, debates, discussions and group work have proven effective in many education systems. Studies into learning and teaching strategies show that it’s more effective to shift the classroom dynamics away from the teacher to a modern “learner-centred” model, where pupils take some responsibility for the objectives, expectations and benefits of the education process.

The UAE education system has undergone many changes over the past four decades and teaching strategies have been improving, thanks to the latest learning tools and technologies. But student engagement – a key element in the classroom environment – remains a challenge for many teachers and it should always be a topic of discussion.