The Changing Role of the Teacher in the 21st CenturyBy Dr. Brad Johnson and Tammy Maxson McElroy
By the authors of The Edutainer: Connecting the Art and Science of Teaching
“Many of our schools are good schools, if only this were 1965.”-Louise Stoll & Dean Fink
The irony of this quote is not the fact that our educational system is antiquated, but that most new initiatives and programs are still focused on perfecting the antiquated school of 1965 rather than transforming formal education to be relevant in the world of today.
It seems that while business models, technology, and even religion (steeped in tradition) have adapted to an ever changing culture, education has remained comparatively unchanged. The global business market has moved from an assembly-line manufacturing culture to a more service oriented culture. The Information Age of technology has moved us into an era of instant information. The world is literally at our finger tips. However, one glance into a classroom and you would find very little has changed over the past 30 or more years. Oh, there might better lighting, air conditioning or even a computer or a smart board in the room, if you are lucky, but the process of formal educating has changed very little over the past several decades.
Education still mainly involves teachers “data dumping” information to students to cover the curriculum in preparation for a standardized test. So, if education has not kept up with the changing times, then one has to question its relevance in preparing students for the world of today – not to mention the world of tomorrow. And if education has not changed with the times, then it is reasonable to assume that the role of educators has not changed as well. Therefore, one could conclude that the role of the teacher is effective… if only this were 1965.
So, the question becomes, is the role of the teacher effective in the year 2010?
With research suggesting that students are seemingly unprepared for college and the world, it is apparent that there is disconnect between formal learning and the world beyond the classroom. And when you consider that the attrition rate is around 50% for teachers within their first five years of service, one would have to conclude that they are not prepared for the reality of the classroom in the 21st Century. These teachers graduate with a degree, pass certification exams, participate in professional development and still half of them will burnout within the first 5 years of teaching.