THE EDITOR: I applaud TTUTA for advocating a return to face-to-face instruction in the classroom as a step forward from online learning, for as the experts in the field they must know that the latter in itself, as basically a fact-collecting, content-oriented approach to learning, is limited in achieving the true aim of education, which is to strive for the overall development of the individual, not only for its own sake but as a means to coping with the challenges of every-day living.
TTUTA must know that the latter objective can be achieved from two fronts:
1. The intellectual exchange that comes from face-to-face interaction between teacher and student and student and student in the classroom on a continuing basis that provides the framework for the evolving level of cognition which is the lifeblood of true human development.
This framework allows the learner to move from the “what” of subject disciplines to the “why” from a content-oriented approach to knowledge to a critical approach to it. It is the intellectual setting which makes the tutor go from being a mere repository of knowledge, merely to be disseminated without question, to becoming an activist using that knowledge to stimulate the mind. And the learner from being a mere receptacle to be filled with that knowledge to one who would interrogate it to arrive at an informed conclusion.
2. This group of educators must also know that cognitive development through academic interchange in the classroom is merely one side of the coin. The learner must also be socialised, not only in the ways of every-day living, but also in the constituents of what it is to be human.
These would include handling peer pressure or criticism, dealing with failure or success, praise or blame, coping with temptation or being a party to malice or bullying et al, which are all part of the day-to-day “school” experience of dealing with classmates, being in the cafeteria or on the playing field and the like, complementing the academic, but both mutually reinforcing the growth and development of the learner.
For TTUTA, the interaction in the classroom and the fraternising in and outside of it represent a microcosm of the world the learner will inhabit in the future and what more appropriate training ground is there for that future than in the actuality of the school setting. But the people in TTUTA are educators who can see this.
Is it any wonder that the politicians can’t? Their role is to appease, which online learning seems to provide. But with the limited growth and development that are the natural consequence of such a policy, can we envisage a future generation of the stymied and intellectually handicapped individuals trying to take this nation forward?
As usual, I leave the answer to you.
DR ERROL N BENJAMIN