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Three things today’s teachers need to consider for tomorrow’s students

It’s argued in increasing measure that teachers have low job satisfaction; but one antidote to this could be asking educators to re-imagine their role and think about their own vision for education in the future. Today’s teachers face many challenges inside and outside the classroom, but there are also larger global changes approaching which those working in education need to be mindful of, say Open University academics.

1. The environment

Big shifts in attitudes towards the environment will mean that teachers need to think more about sustainability in the classroom. This could be as simple as ensuring eco-friendly materials are used, and that environmental issues are discussed with pupils.  Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Learning, Alison Fox, explains:

“Education has a key role to play in environmental agendas – whether that is at a local level, or in setting out the global issues to students.  The kind of subjects that are covered in schools, and the skills that students need to develop need to be considered.”

2. Demographic changes

Demographic changes, particularly migration and population growth, can present challenges to educators. There may be language barriers in the classroom, cultural considerations and lessons may need to be adapted to ensure every student is included.

Alison Fox says, “Migration can have an impact on societies, and can be a challenge to both the individuals and the schools.  Teachers might need to consider curriculum changes such as exploring what it means to be a citizen of countries and of the world, and how they need to adapt their lessons to meet the needs of everyone affected.”

3. Technological changes

Could skype bars and gaming areas be a feature of tomorrow’s schools? Technology has already impacted the teaching profession with interactive whiteboards, apps and online tutoring, but there will be more huge shifts to come.

“Many schools embrace technology and how it can enhance their teaching practices,” says Alison Fox. “But it is hard to predict where technology will take us, and what skills teachers will need to develop in the future.  Physically, school spaces may change and develop. Whilst one response is to see technology pervading the classroom and opening out classrooms to the wider world, another includes the increasing popularity of forest schools which encourage students to connect with nature.  This blend of technology and environment will be increasingly common.”

Teachers are encouraged to reflect on how their profession may be shaped and evolve in response to these global changes through a new Badged Open Course ‘Looking globally: the future of education’ and ‘Learning and teaching: educating the next generation’, a new Masters module from The Open University.

Alison Fox comments, “The critical thinking developed throughout the courses will help professionals re-evaluate their role in the education of the next generation and clarify their vision for education fit for the future. This will include considering their agency as teachers to act in accordance with their vision. A passionate and empowered workforce of teachers is just what our children need to support them in finding their place in local and global society.”

About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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