Here and there in education with Thokozani Mhlanga.

Let me say I want to talk about education but I do not know where to start. Not because I have no clue, but because education is a very tricky profession that everyone has an idea about. Sometimes the term ‘education’ is misused. I remember my Grade 7 teacher walking into class with a stick we used to call Stop Nonsense, declaring, “Today I will educate you”.

Having said that, some questions that might be asked are, “Is education a one-day-wonder experience?” or “Does education seek to make graduates employable?” but I prefer to ask this one, “Should graduates be employment creators?”

Let us dwell on what kind of education should students be exposed to, and what should inform that?

  • PBL and data driven instruction

In almost all countries governments are fiddling with education and they really do not know what to do with it. Education throughout the entire world is either outdated or unjust. Let’s examine data driven instruction. Back to state education, note this is not directed to the South African government, but to the African countries at large. It Is actually safe to say most government educators in the world are experimenting with small human beings. This experimenting is almost similar to how people often feel about weather. They do not know which season is better. For most, education officials who are responsible for curricula, education is like someone who wakes up in the morning with a lotto winning ticket: too much money all at once and no plans for it. These education officials do not know if they want to stick with tradition and continue churning out graduates who seek employment, the industrial era type of education, or if they should implement change that will see graduates become employment creators. While what matters in the African setup is to churn out employment creators, many officials are scared to embrace educational change.

It is data driven Project Based education that seeks to change the tradition. It intends to eliminate the legacy of a traditional way of doing things where students are drilled to memorise and talk about theories they have no ideas about. On the contrary, data driven instruction in Project Based Learning brings to the students just the right experiences. Remember, being a data driven PBL educator is not just about collecting data. Everyone collects data. Peasant farmers collect data. They count how many cows the shepherds brought back home. Vendors also collect data. How many of their cabbages were sold? However, as a PBL educator, data informs, data directs, it gives the co-ordinates that have to be followed by the students and the educator. In a PBL set up, data is important for ideation if it is shared with students. It informs what content should be covered. It enlightens what will constitute the project. These projects give experience to students. It’s not only experience that they gain: creativity, collaboration… They gain the 21st century skills.

So what data do you collect?

All data, emotional, academic and in all subjects, is the answer. For this method is holistic. Finland has done away with teaching in subject areas! The PBL we deliver at FNS also is more integration oriented. We seek to be thought leaders in education in the country.

FNS believes in Project Based teaching being the best alternative as it gives students the opportunity to gain experience and creativity while at school. Allowing the students to be better than, not other students in class, but better than themselves. “Someday all schools will teach like us” because we do not seek to dominate the educational space but to start processes that everyone would see a need to follow.

Thokozani is an Intermediate phase coordinator at FNS. He has been in the field of education for 20 years. Has taught in all the school phases from 2 year olds to grade 12. Worked in Eastern Cape (Matatiele and Port Elizabeth, Gauteng) and also in Zimbabwe. Has also been privileged to be a part of academic teams that have started a couple of schools that have made their mark in education. Beside an educational qualification He holds a degree in BHSS.


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