Hi, everyone! This podcast is about the future learning and schooling.
In this talk, Iris Zheng discusses her thoughts on the future of learning and schooling. She questions the purpose of schooling and suggests that it should go beyond transferring knowledge and teaching skills. She believes that schooling should focus on developing students' capabilities, characters, and mindsets, allowing them to realize their own dreams and values and work with others to make a better world. She also emphasizes the importance of a smart learning environment that is flexible, personalized, adaptive, and blended. Zheng suggests that teaching methods should be student-centered, flexible, comprehensive, inquiry-based, and personalized. She believes that academic curricula should develop competencies such as civic literacy, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Zheng also highlights the significance of social-emotional skills and the involvement of parents and the community in education. She shares examples of practices in her school, such as an advisory cla Hi, everyone. I'm Iris Zheng. Today, I'm going to talk about my thoughts about the future of learning and schooling. Okay, let's get started. The first one I want to begin with is the purpose of schooling. Why does the school exist? Why do kids go to school? As Irene Lynn Rapp mentioned in her article, The Four Purpose of Schooling, she concluded four purpose of schooling. The first, academic achievement and social mobility. The second, character mindset development and math learning. The third, social cohesion. And the last one is social equality. All four of the purposes for schooling sound good since they are very comprehensive and efficient like most of the established common schooling. However, the existence of this theory is closely related to the development of industrial society. Every student is considered as a future worker contributing to the development of this society. Success in education means getting into a good university and then after graduation find a decent job. This is the traditional schooling that I experienced before. During the past 30 years, we faced so many huge changes on this planet. Therefore, schooling also needs a change corresponding to the world. With the rapid development of science and technology, especially the Internet, a lot of knowledge and skills can be easily learned online. What is the meaning of the existence of the school? Why do students go to school? As Kang talked in the video, School of the Future, he mentioned, we should not just use the latest technology to teach what's already there in the current system without any change on the content fundamentally. I think the school should not just be a place to transfer knowledge or train the students with certain selected skills to meet the social needs only. Kids are not the same products of an assembly production line. Everyone is unique and different. They have their own interests, thoughts, talents, and potentials. So, I agree with Erin Lynn Rapp that the future schooling purpose will be to give students opportunities to learn and practice the capabilities, characters, and mindsets that they need to be gentle citizens who can realize their own dreams and values and are also able to work with others to make a better world. The second part I want to talk about is the learning environment. There is a concept which is called smart learning environment. Cheng, Guo, Piussevat, and Yang introduced smart learning environment in their research paper. They defined the concept of smart learning environment as a learning environment that emphasizes learning flexibility, effectiveness, efficiency, engagement, adaptivity, and reflectiveness where both formal learning and informal learning are integrated. Therefore, the smart learning environment should have some key features like flexible, personalized, adaptive, and blended. I believe a good learning environment is like a speechless but good helper for both learning and teaching. It will provide almost everything to meet the student's individual core learning goals and then inspire them to generate motivation. Also, it will be helpful to form characters and mindsets of an agentive global citizen. All in all, a good learning environment designed for students should include not only a variety of advanced scientific technologies, devices, and equipment, but also flexible systems, diverse choices, and considerate care for students with different features and needs. The third one I want to talk about is the teaching methods. There are many great teaching methods, but I would like to choose the following four methods as the most important ones. They are student-centered, flexible, and comprehensive, inquiry-based, and personalized. Let's compare them with the traditional teaching method. Teacher-centered, lecture-based teaching are the best ways to cue students' interests and passion. Let the students choose what they are curious about, interested in, and want to learn. Furthermore, when the students are sure that the learning is not for showing grace to parents or others, but related to their real life, there's nothing that can prevent them from discovering and inquiry. Compared with the fixed time and fixed classroom in the traditional schooling, teaching needs to be more flexible. Nowadays, the technologies make it possible for students to conduct any learning activities at any time and anywhere, collaborative or independent, group or individual, online or offline. Teaching can switch its forms and approaches from time to time to meet the goals and needs. The fourth thing I want to talk is academic curricula. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the purpose of the schooling is to give students opportunities to learn and practice the capabilities, characters, and mindsets that they need to be identity citizens who can realize their own dreams and values, and are also able to work with others to make a better world. Ministry of Education in Singapore mentioned the following competencies are necessary for the globalized world we live in. The first one is civic literacy, global awareness, and cross-cultural skills. The second is critical and inventive thinking. The third is communication, collaboration, and information skills. Therefore, the academic curriculum should be designed to develop these skills and competencies. The subjects should include, but not limited to, literacy, mathematics, creative writing, languages, art, computer science, and so on. The sixth one I will talk about is social-emotional skills. Recently, emotional wellness and social harmony is more and more emphasized by people. I would like to introduce the practice in my school. We started an advisory class program a few years ago. The students and the advisor teacher will meet three times per week. The main goal of the advisory class is to form closer relationships and connections between the teachers and the students. Also, through many lectures, videos, group discussion, and activities, help the students to develop social-emotional skills. Ministry of Education in Singapore has mentioned five interconnected key competencies which are self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, relationship management. Our school's practices are quite closely related to these five categories. For example, through self-portrait and group portrait drawing and discussion, MPTI and color test to know ourselves better, sharing lectures and videos about time management and stress management, making smart goals for each quarter and reflect regularly, discussing global issues, celebrating several countries, culture festivals, one-on-one wellness check, and research. Although our program is not perfect yet, I do feel it is a good practice to help our students in some way to develop their social-emotional skills. The last aspect I want to mention is parent and community involvement. As a famous proverb said, it takes a whole village to raise a child. Wikipedia explained it as an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. So, in order to provide our students a great education, the involvement of parents and community is absolutely essential. As a parent, I believe that every parent wants their child to be successful. Therefore, the school needs to ensure that parents have an opportunity to take an active role in their child's education. The Mississippi Department of Education has published a document which provided some suggestions for successful parental involvement communications. I would like to introduce some helpful and important suggestions, such as foster a climate demonstrating that parental involvement is valued. Communicate with parents via emails, phone calls, meetings, or home visits. Inform parents of curriculum goals for each subject. Advise parents about how they can help students meet individual expectations and develop skills and habits that promote lifelong learning. Encourage collaboration between school personnel and parents to find ways to prevent violence, peer bullying, and other antisocial behavior. Invite families to participate through welcome signs, friendly staff, open houses, school directories, and displays. Establish a parent-family resource center, including information on parenting, child development, and support services. In order to cultivate the students into responsible global citizens, make connections with the students and the real world, collaborate with the community is also important. I can introduce some meaningful practice that happened in my school. Our elementary school students had a project named Introduce My Community. They investigated the community nearby our school and made a 3D model to introduce it. Also, they were asked to raise some suggestions to make this community a better place for all the community members, like the elders, young kids. Our middle school students go to our Hawaii campus every May. They will stay there nearly one month. Their PBL goal is to understand the history and culture of Hawaii, discover some topics that they are really interested in, and compare them with Seoul or South Korea. For high school students, there is a program named MPCS, New Pacific Century Scholars Program, which could be internship, research and discovery, or service learning. Among them, service learning is especially an opportunity for students to combine their interests and passions with positive and meaningful action in the community. It combines pursuing academic interests with developing good citizenship and having great character. Service learning is more than just volunteering. Students learn more about themselves and the role that they play in their world. I can give many students practice, such as helping the aged people in the neighborhood, tutoring young kids online or offline, working as a volunteer in the subway station for translation, taking care of homeless animals, creating fun English storybooks, and read them to the young students. Through these practices, I can see the students' growth not only on their mindset but also on their attitude towards peers, teachers, and others. Well, I think I have to stop here. Thanks for listening, and your comments are highly appreciated.