Should Teachers Experiment in the Classroom?

Wednesday, 06 June 2012   |   Creative Thinking

iPad in educationRecently there was a discussion on one of the email lists I'm on regarding the use of iPads in classes.  An interesting topic in itself but another more interesting side topic arose which was whether we as educators should be experimenting with how we teach or not.  It's an idea that has some compelling arguments on both sides of the coin so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts.

Ultimately I do believe we as educators should be experimenting but let's look at the other side of the argument first.  It could easily be said that it is unfair on the students to treat them as guinea pigs in your teaching experiments.  If resources are required (like the purchase of iPads as above) and it turns out to be a flop then are we not wasting money that could well have been spent in other areas?  Should we not be leaving this to researchers whom are trained to do this type of stuff, then work from their results?

These are valid arguments and if you want to take this side then I will not get in the way of letting you do so.  In fact it's probably best that you do because I don't think you have the right attitude to be effectively creative.  (And if that offends you,  grow up and deal with it.)

Now let's consider the flip side.

I believe that as educators we should be experimenting,  we should be constantly experimenting. 

We live in a constantly changing and evolving world.  If you're re-active in your teaching (or worse, static) you will be too late.  You need to be pro-active.  Another problem nowadays is that curriculum is increasingly becoming one-size-fits-all.  The problem with this approach however is that it is tailored to the average (or worse, to the lowest common denominator).  Individually, each student is not that mythical average person which this is based upon however.  It ends up being more like one-size-kinda-fits-all-but-not-really.

The teacher that is willing to experiment is more flexible in their approach and better suited to tailoring their teaching to that particular class and even to particular students.

Being creative in your teaching improves your ability to teach.  Sure, not everything you try will be a success but I'm sure that the students won't fare too badly from things that don't work out.  With every failure you also gain experience and this experience will help you teach better and also do better in your future experimenting.  And if you share your learning with the class then they will gain from the experiment also.

Ultimately we are preparing students for the rest of their life, their life out there in the real world.  And to succeed in it and do their best (no matter what they do) they will have to solve problems and be creative.  If you can help introduce them to those approaches in the classroom then you are helping set them up for life.  You yourself need to be a great problem solver/ experimenter/ creative thinker if you wish to instil these qualitles in your students.  It should be an integral part of your approach to teaching.

Future generations will be inheriting all that we have broken in this world.  We owe it to them to give them the best education and to work towards better education such that they will be well armed to tackle these issues.  The world needs an army of educators willing to experiment and work together to find better ways of teaching.  Your ideas, experiments and creativity with respect to education all work together to improve education in general.  Even if you don't come up with a stellar idea yourself,  your outcomes and ideas may inspire other teachers (and indeed students) who do go on to provide something great.

And finally,  if you are creative and experiment with your teaching, you will have more fun,  your students will have more fun and they will get more out of your teaching.  If that's not a good enough reason to be creative in your teaching then I don't know what is.

It would be awesome to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Leave us a comment below and share what you think.


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