Teachers must go. To be clear, teachers in the roles in which we traditionally interact with them must be retired along with other pre-COVID-19 concepts – like in-person meetings – that most people over 30 thought held the world together like glue. The critical roles of teachers must be re-imagined as “facilitators”.
In order to appreciate my proposal, it is important to understand some of the key challenges that my classmates and I have faced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning in itself has become harder. Classes are not as effective as they used to be because teachers, through no fault of their own, simply have not been prepared with all the tools they need in order to teach online. Half of our learning has to be done on our own, as teachers are not able to fit their material into the limited time allocated for them to teach. On top of all this, everyone learns at different paces, and teachers are having trouble taking all this into consideration when planning classes.
I propose that there be no teachers after kindergarten and elementary school. Instead, middle and high schoolers are assigned “facilitators”. These “facilitators” are paid higher salaries than teachers today are, and serve the purpose of guiding students towards success in their secondary education. They meet with students twice a week, online, and focus on forming meaningful connections, playing a crucial role in their development as young adults.
All classes are taught through pre-recorded online videos. These videos, which are created by leading educators in each country, cover all subject areas and are accessible to students nationwide. They are all of the highest quality, meaning no one student can have an education superior to another. After completion of a unit, tests about the content are to be taken on an extremely secure platform. Only after passing this test will students be allowed to move on to the next unit. This allows all students to work and learn at their own pace, without fear of being held back or left behind by their peers.
The money that used to go into funding school classrooms and other facilities is now redistributed. Besides raising the incomes of “facilitators”, it is spent towards giving internet access to students who may not already have it, ensuring that everyone is able to access the video lessons. It is also used to give low-income students who may have depended on their schools for meals “meal tickets”. These are cards that can be used at grocery stores or restaurants in place of money, allowing students to purchase healthy breakfasts and lunches.
This new teacher-less way of learning would have an incredibly positive impact on the way students experience education, especially in difficult times like the present. COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic our generation encounters, and this system would make certain that no pandemic or major disaster will affect the education of students in the negative way it has this past year.
Judge’s Note: Najya made a strong case for a shift in the role of teachers to facilitators, and the need for more personalized learning.
This post is one of the three winning entries of the third World Bank Group and Financial Times Blog Writing Competition.