Education as a Transformative Process

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By Samantha Wickramasinghe 

Many of us acknowledge the fact that education plays a major role in transforming individuals and societies. Consequently, the countries that have the best educators and education systems have better overall living conditions; nevertheless it is important to ask the question— how does education transform individuals and societies?: to find the answer, we must analyse successful teaching and learning processes within specific environments where formal education is practised. It is also important to realise that formal education does not take place only within schools or universities. 

In countries like Sri Lanka, private tuition classes too, have a great influence. There are also religious educational institutions and more modern ways of learning such as online-learning that gives access to reputed educational institutions around the world. Finally, being good and being educated are two different attributes. If difference between the two is minimal, it means that you are living in a good society.  

 Teacher-centred vs. student-centred education 

In countries like Sri Lanka, teachers are well respected and considered only second to parents. Thus, traditionally the role of the educator had been elevated by the teacher-centred educational culture. Student-centred education on the other hand, is where students are considered as the most important stakeholder. The teacher’s job in the student-centred classroom is to facilitate the learning process and develop learning skills and competencies. While student-centred teaching methods are popular in the modern world, teacher-centred education stills holds importance when it comes to religious education, mass classes and private tuition classes. 

Nowadays, people use social media sites like YouTube and Facebook to access videos of some of the best teachers. While these videos can be really helpful, it is important to note that Youtube learning can also be considered as teacher-centred learning. For teachers, the importance of giving the correct knowledge to the students is even more important today given the fact that there is a lot of disinformation and misinformation on the internet. Nevertheless with the rise of online learning, the internet has become the primary source of channel for information or knowledge transmission.

How does the transformation occur? 

Many education theorists argue that early childhood education is very important at many levels. During the critical period of childhood, the learning curve of the student is very high. For example in countries like Sweden, children are given a balanced education where they are not overly stressed by exams and homework. Children love to go to school because they have enough time to play. Another example would be countries like Japan that teaches children life skills as a ‘part education’. Students learn how to eat, clean and share things with their peers. Children clean classrooms and even the restrooms.  When children are given a quality education like in Japan and Sweden, their lives become better, healthier and happier. For both children and adults, transformation through education is possible when they develop from a lower to a higher level. The Blooms taxonomy is a great ‘visual’ example of the development process in education from the lower to the higher level. 

  If you observe the diagram from your left to the right, you will notice that words such Define, Identify, Describe ‘stay’ at level 1, but words like Design, Develop, Modify ‘stay’ at level 6. The transformation in education occurs when a student goes form level 1 to level 6. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, possessing knowledge alone is not good enough. Recreating knowledge and innovation is also a part of education.

Being educated vs. being good 

In Sri Lanka and throughout the world, many of us hear about problems like gender discrimination, inequality, child abuse, violence and corruption. Just because a person is educated, it does not necessarily mean that they are good.  The gap between being good and being educated should not be wide. No matter how educated a person is, if they are not good, the society cannot thrive. Therefore, inculcating good morals should be a part and parcel of education towards nurturing a wholesome personality. Then and only then, the true transformation of individuals and societies could materialise.