Digital disruption may be a term many are tired of hearing, but technology has changed the world and will continue to do so.
This includes affecting the way we educate children, and the careers that will be available to them when they leave school.
This, in turn, means there needs to be a change in the way teachers are trained.
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'We will always need teachers'
But rather than technology replacing teachers with tech, Professor Patrick Bean, Executive Dean of STADIO Faculty of Education and Humanities’ School of Education (formerly Embury), says we should be encouraging more young people to consider teaching as a career.
“We will always need teachers – people who inspire others to learn, and empower them to do so. Yes, the digital age means that there are more platforms where learning can take place, but we still need teachers to cultivate an appetite for learning in our children and to point them in the right direction,” Prof. Bean says.
“What’s more is that with a teaching qualification, graduates are equipped for all sorts of other careers – which is an important consideration as we face a future that includes artificial intelligence, mechanisation and a healthy dose of uncertainty.”
'Teachers are perfect for a range of jobs'
Quality modern teaching qualifications should produce graduates who are highly organised, efficient and adept at communicating.
They appreciate the value of learning – especially lifelong learning – and they are flexible and adaptable.
They have a strong work ethic and management and leadership skills.
This makes teachers perfect for a range of jobs, including guidance counselling, school management, curriculum development, administration, instructional design, workplace training, adult education, and research, among others.
Of course, most graduates with a teaching qualification will seek to work in the education system.
Despite the changes digitisation has wrought, Prof. Bean says there is still a need for teachers (South Africa needs 20 000 to 30 000 newly qualified teachers annually) and especially for fresh young people who understand the digital environment.
Their role will just be slightly different to teachers of yore.
'If we don’t adapt, we will let our future learners down'
“Technology has changed so quickly that it’s difficult for pedagogy to keep pace sometimes, but if we don’t adapt, we will let our future learners down,” he says.
“They need to be equipped to live and work in a world that is very different to the one we grew up in. For centuries, teachers held the knowledge and dispensed it to those in their classrooms. Now, information is freely available. In fact, there’s a glut of it. The teacher’s role therefore needs to shift to helping students navigate that information and make sense of it.”
Students are not the only ones who benefit from digitalisation and the access to information and ability to collaborate that it affords.
Teachers are able to join communities of educators, share their knowledge, ask for help and assist students to find answers to their questions, even if they are outside of their own spheres of knowledge.
“I know I might be a bit biased, but if you ask me how to future-proof yourself, I’d suggest studying a teaching degree,” concludes Prof. Bean.
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