There have been profound changes in the education policies with the change in times requiring skills from modern teachers that were not even imagined possible in an earlier era. Generally teaching in classrooms were sessions that used the board, lecture, and oral and written tests of the subject and direct interaction between the teacher and students. This required skills for the teacher like a willingness to explain in depth, lecturing and presentation skills, motivation and in some cases the excise of authority and leadership. This role is slowly changing and so is the method of the delivery of instruction. Today information is not in the lecture or library but on the internet and sometimes lectures are replaces by multimedia presentations. The teacher today is called upon to be techno smart and highly creative. This has posed problems for teachers who are not trained in these technologies.
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Tied with modern concepts like involvement, and many other new concepts like global learning communities the teacher is always expected to upgrade their skills, and standards not only in the respective subjects but also teaching skills and methods used. This causes a dual draw. As it is there is a lack of information in the teaching departments about performance. Secondly teachers are yet to be trained properly in the use of information for the identification of weaker students and also to understand their own deficiencies. Thus teachers are not privy to data and where data is available either on the education prospects, or on the subjects or even on the students progress teachers are unable to use the information meaningfully due to lack of competency in the use of technology or the necessary medium is not available to them perhaps even on cost considerations. Unfortunately such shifts have caused teaching merely to be academic based on formulas, and painting by numbers. Technology has made the primary-school teachers into technicians. There are more and more of the administrative demands on teachers, and with a larger population of students and changes in policy that make social practices become optional.
As education gets modernized it is pointed out that there is a need to develop the data processing methods. Instructional designs properly done will reduce the difficulty of understanding and the modern requirements that is necessary for task automation, time components, and technology. There is a great care required for the educational processes from textbook selection, instruction and the often marginalized social position in women’s work. Creativity has become the good example in education with the teachers required to improvise the teaching methods irrespective of the use of modern technologies. As a result modern teachers use props and craft to get the message passed on to the students rather than the rote and learn technology of previews years. More students are taken to field trips and teachers are called upon to show their creative skills in creating absorbing activities. These manipulations need the teacher to plan a sequence of projects where the student is made to learn by doing, something unheard of in the past.
The earlier discussions revealed that for a long time the teaching community has been using props and small technology that was creative and crafted to the requirements of the class room. That was an aide and a supplement to the class teaching and did not distance the teacher from the learning stream. Their work was participatory. However with the modern gadgets the things get confusing. The teacher showing a multimedia presentation does not participate with it and there is no doing and learning. Instructions are on the screen and are impersonal. Does this impair the learning process? There is no direct research on this though arguments have been advanced on either site. There are many types of technology that is in use today and it is argued that it can be used to teach. Thus the modern information and electronic technology can be used to convey information like a word processor. This helps those with writing problems as in dyslexia. Teachers can use such technologies to advantage.
Other available tools like desktop publishing tools, music software, are all used in modern classrooms. Computer Programs like Excel that can plot graphs and pie charts can be used to save time in the teaching of data analysis. Likewise the physics class can be with practical multimedia. These facilities often handicap the teacher who is not trained to only in the use of the media but also in the method of using them as the supplement to his or her lecture skills and direct rapport with the student. In order to prevent the teacher from becoming a switch presser who takes no active part in the session other that show slides or let the software do the talking teachers have to be educated on the methods of using technology without compromising their ability to build a relationship. This calls for reorienting the teacher. Teachers have a great difficulty in the use of technology. The teacher today is faced with the changes in the classroom and technology.
Novick says that students today are into the use of technology but are emotionally and physically drained. They are according to Bernard Novick “the products of a new era”. Therefore there is a need to train and encourage the teaching communities to be equipped themselves and handle the changes and adapt to the standard of the new student generation and their requirements. Lankshear devolve into the problems of teachers who are subject to a world that is changing not only in the area of literacy and education but also in the changing face of technology which is complicating the way education is being modernized. Thus today there is a link between literacy, technology and learning. The authors comment that there is a lot of enthusiasm and initiative with teachers and students in ‘integrating new technologies into the activities of classroom-based literacy education’.
The author has researched the aspect o changes in technology that could do both, bridge the inabilities and cover for the shortcomings of the students and also become a possible creator of disabilities. On the other hand, Mac Arthur et al argue that the changes in the technology have changed the nature of the technology practices and also have caused impairment to cognitive facilities. Computer technologies may have a very far reaching influence on skills especially to writing skill and vocabulary. The ability of writing well phased matter with reflection is a skill that is cultivated by the written language; unfortunately these skills could be jeopardized. On the other hand technology could bring in aid to the really disadvantaged by providing required support. In extreme cases this could afford a method of imparting knowledge where formerly there were none.
Thus it is evident that the modern teacher cannot be away from the influence of technology and it is time that teachers are technically trained, and they are also made aware of the use of modern data processing methods which will enable them in assessing students and understanding their own potential and role. As with all industries these problems are also the foundations for unions to call in the status quo. Because the modern technologies.
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The unions for the teachers have unfortunately blocked their own progress. Unions though a great means of collective bargaining interfere in the progressive measures which include programs to enhance the teacher’s proficiency and effectiveness. Thus there is a problem of the ‘parent collective’ and the teachers unions and the educational institutions. Though there is autonomy of institutions larger decisions often involve the negotiation with the unions. The recent move in Columbia to make the teaching effective with the voucher plan for example gives greater say to parents. This will ensure that the teacher is dedicated to the job. Thus the initial voucher plans for the children in the District of Columbia which were funded by the government have for example given teeth to parents in education.
The unions mostly are raking up issues for political mileage and this seriously impairs the quality of not only education but also of teachers. That unions were involving teachers in their political agenda was evident when the IRS charged “that the NEA is illegally making use of funds which are tax-exempt for the purpose of political activity.” This is in the wake of the Democratic Party documents showing that NEA is a ‘campaign which was coordinated by the party in the year 1996.’ The unionism has not affected all teachers. The NEA’s agenda is making teachers turn away from it because it involves opinions on international issues not involved with teaching. The AAE and its coalition have 250,000 members, and are not into collective bargaining, on the other hand offer liability-insurance policies and scholarships for teachers. There is also the suggestion of a voucher system where the teacher will be assessed by the parents. This may benefit the good teachers.
That these problems do not escape the notice of teachers is evident from the protests of the teachers who wish to be devoid of union compulsions. Teachers are critical of the unions. For example “public-school teachers are opposing the unions that claim to represent them on issues ranging from alleged misuse of member dues for political activity to union insistence on ‘politically correct’ curricula.” Thus with parental rights teachers are calling for teachers right to be devoid of union harassment. Thus there is a division on the issue and while unions provide for insurance, and other group benefits, they must not enter into the very root of the education system. Freedom of expression without compulsions must be guaranteed to the teachers.
There are lots of women teachers in all communities. In fact women tend to take to teaching as a vocation more than men. However the issues that confront male teachers in the school are also present for the female teachers in the same ratio. Thus they also have to be technically skilled, and oriented to the modern teaching methods. Earlier women were relegated to the kindergarten and the primary schools. Now they are in high positions in academic institutions including research institutions and have a role in the formulation of education policies. The distinction between the male teacher and the female teacher lies in the reach women have on the marginalized children and therefore the teaching of these groups who cannot attend school is a speciality that has to be developed in willing women teachers.
Thus the technology of today enables women at home take a shot at “home schooling to have virtual but still intimate emotional connections.” There is evidence of social disintegration, with the loss of the “common school and the teacher education programs” and there is a move aimed at ‘retraditionalization’ with individualism being more asserted. Home schooling has come to stay especially in cases where the child is disadvantaged. It is there that Michael W. Apple lays stress on the role of women educators. It is his opinion that teacher education must be available for women, not only the professional teacher at school, but also those who care for the disadvantaged and are engaged in schooling either at home or in the community. It is urged that this ought to be considered seriously.
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