- Don't limit students within the scope of daily routines - Yes, examinations are important - and to help young learners cover their (often vast) course curricula, regular classes are vital too. However, it is possible to schedule at least one day every week when no routines would be followed, and students would have the freedom to study whatever topic they are interested in. On the day, kids should be allowed to use mobile apps and educational technology in class as well.
- Brushing up the soft skills - Even now, mere theoretical knowledge is not sufficient to land lucrative, competitive jobs - and the importance of having a sharpened set of soft skills is likely to increase even more in future. Teachers should try to keep an eye on the behavioral attributes of each of their students. Impromptu group discussions and simulated scenarios can be arranged, to find out how a learner handles such challenges. Extensive communication (both verbal and written) training has to be provided too. Interview questions should never leave a candidate stumped.
- Moving away from daily homework - Students are burdened by huge amounts of tedious homework, which often eats into their leisure time. It’s high time children were relieved of having to complete mundane tasks, simply because their teacher has ‘instructed’ them to do so. With advanced software programs and learning apps for kids easily available, teachers should start encouraging pupils to think up creative ways to improve their grasp on subjects. This would, as a side-effect, reduce the animosity that many students often feel towards the stricter teachers.
- Need to nurture budding entrepreneurs - MBA programs provide entrepreneurial training, but why wait till a student is well into his/her 20s, before providing him/her such vital career lessons? Financial management, risk-mitigation and business leadership are some of the key skills of a successful entrepreneur - and there should be classes on these topics at the middle school and high school level. Discussions on recent, relevant case studies would add value to such sessions.
- Getting students involved in the teaching process - Many of the careers that are likely to be in vogue in the near future will require present-generation students to take up mentoring roles. That, in turn, makes it imperative that kids should have a thorough idea about the overall knowledge-sharing processes at work in classrooms. Formation of study groups, letting students take mock classes (maybe once every 2-3 days), and familiarizing them with the latest ed-tech tools - everything would come under the domain of this task. In the absence of capable teachers, the future generation will be lost.
- Taking learners out of their comfort zone - In other words, eliminating the behavioral inertia that, to be frank, all of us suffer from. For instance, a kid who loves language subjects, but is in mortal fear of subjects like mathematics and science, has to be gradually coaxed into developing an interest in the latter. Software and mobile app development for educational purposes is not yet completely subject-specific - and the onus is on professional instructors and parents, to make children start liking the subjects that they presently loathe. It might well be that profitable careers in any particular line of study will dry up in the next few years. Qualified students should be able to fall back on alternative options.
- Teaching students smart decision-making skills - Spoon-feeding lessons, and providing step-by-step guidance are things that teachers have to gradually move away from. Instead, students (except for preschoolers, of course!) need to be put in charge of their activities. Apart from simulated business scenarios, the learners should be given the license to study in the way that they are most comfortable with. This would build a sense of responsibility in them - provided that the consequences of a poor decision are made clear to them at the outset. Being able to ‘think on the spot’ is of utmost importance.
- Bolstering self-confidence levels - Sophisticated ebook readers, tablets and iPhone apps for kids have started facilitating the learning processes of students - but if someone is not really inquisitive in nature, that can’t be helped by these tools. However, the natural shyness of a kid should not come in his/her way of freely interacting with teachers/peers at class. Personal counseling sessions can go a long way in revving up the confidence of such reticent children. Teachers also need to emphasize that there are no ‘stupid questions’ - kids should feel free to pose whatever study-related queries they have, to their teachers.
- Providing financial assurance - Education can far too often be seen as merely a stepping-stone on the path to earn big bucks - and we need to come out of this static mindset as soon as possible. Students have to be assured by their parents that they can exclusively focus on pursuing higher education in their preferred subject(s), without having to worry about starting to financially support the family. While this is not a particularly easy thing to do in the developing communities of the world - remember, if someone really excels at something, monetary rewards would be automatically forthcoming!
- Brush up on the oratory skills of students - The intellect of kids and teens should not remain limited within classrooms and among family-members. Regular participation in debate competitions, speech contests and other such events would slowly but surely drive away the stage fright that many young kids tend to have at first. New-age technologies, like laser projectors, can serve as ideal aides for such public speaking. The demand for natural leaders and motivators would increase vastly within the next 8-10 years, and present students have to be ready to take up the challenge.
Ross Smythe is the chief concept developer at Teknowledge Mobile Studio. He regularly writes on the web, specifically on various topics related to education technology.