On January 6th over 150 Principals, Teachers, textbooks publishers and other experts in the field of education made their presence at the conference organized by the University of Saint Joseph, under the theme “Self-Regulated Learning”. The Director of Education Mr. Lo Pak San, the Rector of the University Fr. Peter Stilwell and representatives from Taiwan and Hong Kong were among the main guests.
The Seminar was opened with the address from the Rector of the University and Ms. Ana Corea, Dean of the Faculty of Education, followed by the lectures of the four speakers. Our brother, Fr. Alejandro Salcedo was one among the lectures, with his presentation “Self-Regulated Learning: Exploring the Emerging Use of Flipped Learning”.
Fr. Alejandro Salcedo, Principal of Saint Paul School, and with over 30 years of experience in the field of education, made a review of the present educational system and the need for a change in our classrooms. With his opening statement “if we do what we have always done, we will get the result we have always got” draw the attention of the audience and brought them through the journey of our schools present reality and the need to do “more, better and different” for a better future. “An education without vision is a future without hope” Fr. Alejandro Salcedo said. While big changes and development have taken place in other fields of our society (e.g. industry, health, ICT, etc.) our education system is still much the same as 30 or 40 years ago, when the main role of learning and teaching was based on the “transmission of information rather than the inner-formation, bread and money oriented rather than life oriented and with emphasis on theoretical knowledge rather than on practical skills, and where memorization was more important than understanding”.
“It may be true that our classrooms are equipped with 21st-century gadgets, but they are sitting in a 20th-century learning and teaching environment”, he said. We need to go beyond the skills of the 20th century to be productive in the 21st. century. There is an urgent need to change from “conformity learning to divergent thinking. We need to be different, think different, speak different, expect different, perceive different. We need not to work harder but smarter”, Fr. Alejandro alleged.
With globalization skills have become more important than qualifications and we will be as good as the skills we possess, and how well we do things. Teaching and learning must be seen from the 21st-century point of view, “teaching must be inspiring change rather than imparting knowledge, and learning acquiring understanding rather than absorbing facts. The education of our future generation is not a video game where we have several lives; in our classrooms we only have one chance, either we succeed or fail, either we learn from success or from failure, so we must do the right thing and do the thing right.
We do not have to work harder, we need to work smarter
We live in an age of uncertainty Fr. Alejandro said, where according to statistics robots will replace 800 million jobs by 2030 and where traditional career paths are on the way out. “The past is a place to learn from and not a place to live in”, Fr. Alejandro asserted, therefore, “we have to initiate and determine the nature of the future by giving direction and purpose to the present education”. As Fr. Alejandro said and I quote: “if we want to have something that we never had we have to do something that we never have done”, we need to implement a pedagogical approach in our education system where direct instruction moves from the groups learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning and teaching environment and where the teacher is not the ‘sage on the stage’ but the ‘guide on the side.
According to Fr. Alejandro, “an educational strategy without vision in the future will make us always return to the past”. Now more than ever, he continued, “need to form skills in our younger generation where machines cannot compete with us ….we have to instill in the future leaders minds capable to analyze, evaluate, create, compare and contrast, judge and assess, investigate, choose and analyze. We must flip our learning environment from the traditional course-centric model to the learner-centric approach. We need to flip that traditional learning environment by delivering academic content outside the class and use the class time for discussion and application.” This, according to Fr. Alejandro, is the baseline of flipping learning.
In today’s world it is not enough for our younger generation to be passive learners, receiving, undemanding and repeater minds but “active learners, owners of their learning, questioners, they need to be engaged and motivated towards a lifelong learning.” The classical setting of a classroom is all about the teacher and the teacher’s needs. All the tools are for the use of the teacher, thus, the student becoming a merely passive receiver of information.
“We need to overturn the traditional model by moving away from teacher centered space into a more collaborate student-centered learning environment, an environment where the student initiates the learning and the teacher the teacher becomes a facilitator and advisor.”
No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one or new wine into old wineskins (Lk. 5:36-39). “I see and I forget, I hear and I remember, I do and I understand” (Chinese Proverb). “We do not have to do different things, we have to do things differently” he said. Flipping learning is not a ‘magic bullet’; it is the first step in reframing the role of the teacher and the student in the classroom. Flipping our learning environment is a win-to-win situation for both students and teachers and the society as a whole. By doing the right thing now, it will be more difficult for the younger generation to take the wrong choice in the future” he concluded.