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It all goes back to teachers... when we want to address change, teachers are our first and often unique target. Do we think about teachers as the main drivers for change? Do we think that teachers can effectively respond to this pressure?
Are they able to drive the change in all areas of social or human development? Obviously while asking the question, we already give the answer: we can't ask the teachers more than what they can give and more than what the other systemic actors can afford.
Once we agree upon this statement, we haven't made much progress. In fact we are still convinced that teachers are key drivers for change but that - and it is even more important - they are the first interested in changing. Teachers alone can't change.
They need to be trained, supported and stimulated to change. But they have to change. There is no way out. When we look at the classroom and see it unchanged, i.e. as it was 25 years ago and more, we also include the teacher in the picture.
Teachers haven't changed? It is difficult to believe that all social and technological innovations haven't influenced the way teachers think and act. What may have happened is that their willingness to change, the effective changes they introduced in their practices haven't been perceived nor made visible by the system except in specific pilot projects.
Teachers may have a voice through their unions to influence political decisiones.
Teachers may have a voice in the classroom with their students and their parents. Teachers have no voice to push forward innovations on a global way. Teachers are perceived as adopting a defensive posture when part of their practice depends on their abilities to make change possible in their students' minds and lives.
The new learning environments - virtual platforms - are based on a new interpretation of the teachers' role and status.
The teachers should be able to individualize their approach to the students, better understanding the needs of the most and less talented and adapting the teaching and learning rythms to their realities. We strongly criticize the high rate of school drop outs (15% in the EU in average and more than 30% in some countries).
While criticizing the educative performance of many Member States, we implicitly criticize the teachers who are not able to detect problems in their classrooms and revert the situation. "we detect the problem too late, we intervene too late".
Too late is an expression that doesn't match with the instanteneous features of ICT-based schemes. How can the technology help us to improve our practices, and ultimately achieve our main goal: better students, better persons for a better life.
The answer lies maybe in a new way to establish dialog between all the actors of the educative community. Who talks to whom? In fact policy-makers don't talk to teachers, they impose. Teachers often don't talk to students, they impose. Students don't talk to teachers, they listen...
Establishing the conditions for genuine dialog between all actors is a crucial issue. Through dialog, we can work on definining priorities and better understand in which circumstances teachers may need autonomy and in which circumstances they may need global approach taken (imposed) at the system level.
Designing an environment prone to change requires a redistribution of roles and a new framework for dialogue. In this context, teachers won't be obstacles but one of the many needed partners.