Brian Isaacs writes that a good teacher adds to the curriculum and tweaks it to fit in with the realities of life. Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Brian Isaacs writes that a good teacher adds to the curriculum and tweaks it to fit in with the realities of life. Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Teachers should embrace technology and tweak material to fit today's life

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 15, 2021

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by Brian Isaacs

The new academic year for students is supposed to start on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

As teachers, we try very hard to make learning interesting for students and we tweak the curriculum to fit in with the realities of life.

I remember with the outbreak of HIV in the early 80s how the Life Sciences' teachers at the school where I taught, under the guidance of one of the most distinguished teachers in South Africa, Fred Coker, avidly researched the virus when we taught students about viruses, in general.This is what good teachers do.

They might be teaching topics which the parents of students were taught, but the good teacher adds to the curriculum. I know of many teachers at schools across the country who do exactly this. They have to teach inexperienced teachers to tweak the curriculum to include material relevant to today's life.

The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged teachers in ways that we never thought possible. Teachers, parents and students seriously had to consider whether they had the technical skills to access knowledge when they could not be at school.

Adults, in general, in all places of work had to connect from home with their work colleagues. I had to learn new things about various electronic programmes, such as Zoom and Google Meet. Teachers had to conduct lessons through electronic media.

The fact that students could teach teachers about these programmes brought teachers and students closer. Yes, we know that many students cannot attend high school because there are not enough schools in South Africa to accommodate students. Also, many schools lack access to computers and the internet at their schools.

Parent, student, and teacher bodies must insist that the education department make computer acquisition and training possible.

My appeal to teachers is to embrace technology and use it to make learning easier. It can never replace the interaction between teachers and students. This, to me, remains paramount to teaching and students being successful. I appeal to businesses surrounding schools to assist teachers, students and parents in promoting computer literacy and training students who show an aptitude to learn more about computer programming.

Let schools, universities and business take hands and build an educational system we can all feel proud of. Let us pressurise Government to build more high schools so that all students at primary schools can complete matric. It is a tall order, but it must remain possible.

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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