Jack Ma Promotes Improving Childhood Education
“A teacher should learn all the time; a teacher should share all the time,” said Jack Ma, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba, China’s and the world’s largest retailer, that even eclipses Amazon in yearly sales.
Ma said that we need to change the way we teach now, or suffer the consequences in the future.
“We cannot teach our kids to compete with the machines which are smarter⎯we have to teach our kids something unique,” Ma said. “In this way, 30 years later, kids will have a chance.”
In an address at the World Economic Forum recently, Ma discussed a variety of subjects, but his statement of educating children differently than we were taught and certainly differently than we have been teaching machines caught the attention of forum attendees because of its air of urgency.
Flipping Out in the Classroom
An educator named Jon Bergmann began to see what he calls “initiative fatigue” in education, pointing to a variety of education systems that were tried, removed and replaced year after year. The struggle was also between teachers who were using textbooks and dial-up phones versus students who were beginning to use the first computers at home and receiving pages from friends on beepers.
Move forward in time and teachers caught up somewhat as new teachers were part of the first computer generation. Now, the speed of introducing new products like smart phones, Virtual Reality and broader computing power is approaching Warp Speed. The students have been far outpacing most of their parents and most of their teachers in making use of the technology.
About 10 years ago, a Colorado educator came up with another new idea that seems to have captured the imagination and participation of many school systems worldwide. It’s called Flipped Learning.
A key part of a flipped classroom is the technology to record material, make it available and, potentially, interactive.
Jon Bergmann, who is credited with discovering and promoting flipped learning, has a variety of tools listed on his website, as does the Flipped Learning Network. Bergmann points out that the technology does not have to be sophisticated, but should be easy to use for the teacher and their students.
There are five “T” tips Bergmann says he has developed recently for teachers who are thinking about flipping their classrooms:
Thinking. Change yours. The approach distinctly changes how teachers must think about teaching, but it isn’t hard to make the leap, he says. “They just have to be convinced that ‘Stand and deliver’ doesn’t work any more. They need to try a new approach.” He says teachers who fear technology also should recognize that flipped learning doesn’t require sophisticated knowledge of tech.
Training. Get it. “It actually is an easy method to get wrong,” Bergmann says. There are several programs that offer training online and sometimes school districts provide help. Training is available at Bergmann’s site, and at The Flipped Institute and the Flipped Learning Network. There is a good teacher’s resource at Edudemic and a concise step-by-step “Quick-start guide” from the University of Texas.
Time. It will take some. Bergmann says that upfront, there is work involved in developing the lectures and ironing out how you will handle the changes to in-class sessions. Experts say, however, that there are a growing number of resources for this. He suggests getting buy-in from the administration and other teachers so they’ll support your effort and perhaps help you with resources.
Technology. You’ll need it.
“It is important to pick the right tools. Choose tools that are easy for you and effective for the students,” Bergmann says. “There is good technology that is simple. I know of very tech-phobic teachers who have been successful with a flipped classroom” (see sidebar).
Trepidation. Just do it. Bergmann says flipping a class is something that it easy to put off. “It’s like exercise and eating right. Everyone agrees we should do it, but it is another thing to get up and go to the gym, or not eat the chocolate chip cookie. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and try it.
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