Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.
THE NAME OF THE DOG IS PUPPY. This seems like a simple sentence. But did you know that in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, three out of four third grade students do not understand it? In rural India, nearly three-quarters of third graders cannot solve a two-digit subtraction problem such as 46 minus 17, and by grade five — half still cannot do so.
The world is facing a learning crisis. While countries have significantly increased access to education, being in school isn’t the same thing as learning. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of children reach young adulthood without even the most basic skills like calculating the correct change from a transaction, reading a doctor’s instructions, or understanding a bus schedule—let alone building a fulfilling career or educating their children.
Education is at the center of building human capital. The latest World Bank research shows that the productivity of 56 percent of the world’s children will be less than half of what it could be if they enjoyed complete education and full health.
Delivered well, education – along with the human capital it generates – benefits individuals and societies. For individuals, education raises self-esteem and furthers opportunities for employment and earnings. And for a country, it helps strengthen institutions within societies, drives long-term economic growth, reduces poverty, and spurs innovation.
"It’s never too late for young people to have opportunities to learn. Our youth deserve to be equipped with the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly demanding and uncertain job world. Given that today’s students will be tomorrow’s citizens and leaders, a good and relevant education is essential to turn aspirations into reality."
Vice President, Human Development, World Bank
A global learning crisis
One big reason the learning crisis persists is that many education systems across the developing world have little information on who is learning and who is not. As a result, it is hard for them to do anything about it. And with uncertainty about the kinds of skills the jobs of the future will require, schools and teachers must prepare students with more than basic reading and writing skills. Students need to be able to interpret information, form opinions, be creative, communicate well, collaborate, and be resilient.
The World Bank’s vision is for all children and youth to be learning and acquiring the skills they need to be productive, fulfilled, and involved citizens and workers. Our focus is on helping teachers at all levels become more effective in facilitating learning, improving technology for learning, strengthening management of schools and systems, while ensuring learners of all ages—from preschool to adulthood—are equipped for success.
Change starts with a great teacher
A growing body of evidence suggests the learning crisis is, at its core, a teaching crisis. For students to learn, they need good teachers—but many education systems pay little attention to what teachers know, what they do in the classroom, and in some cases whether they even show up.
Fortunately for many students, in every country, there are dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who, despite all challenges, enrich and transform their lives. They are heroes who defy the odds and make learning happen with passion, creativity and determination.
One such hero works in the Ecoles Oued Eddahab school in Kenitra, Morocco. In a colorful classroom that she painted herself, she uses creative tools to make sure that every child learns, participates, and has fun. In her class, each letter in the alphabet is associated with the sound of an animal and a hand movement. During class she says a word, spells it out loud using the sounds and the movement, and students then write the word down. She can easily identify students who are struggling with the material and adjust the pace of the lesson to help them get on track. Children are engaged and attentive. They participate and are not afraid to make mistakes. This is a teacher who wants to make sure that ALL children learn.
"Given the essential role they play, addressing the learning crisis requires supporting teachers, who are the single most important driver of how much students learn in school."
Senior Director, Education Global Practice, World Bank
But even heroes need help. We need to be sure that all teachers are motivated to do their best and that they are equipped with what they need to teach effectively.
To support countries in reforming the teaching profession, the World Bank is launching “Successful Teachers, Successful Students.” This global platform for teachers addresses the key challenges of making all teachers effective, making teaching a respectable and attractive profession with effective personnel policies, and ensuring teachers are equipped with the right skills and knowledge before entering the classroom and subsequently supporting them throughout their careers.
Technology offers new possibilities for teaching and learning
Rapid technological change is raising the stakes. Technology is already playing a crucial role in providing support to teachers, students, and the learning process more broadly. It can help teachers better manage the classroom and offer different challenges to different students. And technology can allow principals, parents, and students to interact seamlessly. Millions of students are benefiting from the effective use of technology, but millions more in the developing world are not.
THE 10 BEST EDUCATION BLOGS FOR MODERN TEACHERS TO FOLLOW
In the world of blogging there are organizations that have bloggers employed and then there are individual bloggers. Here are some education blogs from both types that have proved most useful in dispelling myths, providing staff development, and offering relevant resources for classroom use.
These are rock-solid and trusted education blogs that continue to be sources of inspiration for us all as educators from all walks of life. You’ll find organizations dedicated to talking about modern teaching and learning, as well as educators from the trenches who put vision into practice every day.
10 TERRIFIC EDUCATION BLOGS
Wabisabi Blog—Our very own home for all things education related. We strive to post content every day that teachers of every level find useful and inspiring.
Edutopia—One education blog that comes up frequently when searching the Web for anything innovative in education. This foundation seeks to keep education moving forward and at the forefront of discussion. You’ll find videos, blogs, and up-to-date articles on the latest tools for educators.
MIndShift—This is KQED’s contribution to innovative education. MindShift takes its tag line “How We Will Learn” seriously. As such they are dedicated to highlighting the cutting edge of education. MindShift is staffed by writers who are always in-the-know about the latest in learning and the technology that continues to enhance it.
EdSurge—EdSurge strives to provide the best information by relying on a community-driven database of edtech products and articles.
ISTE—Arguably the largest tech education organization, ISTE puts together a massive gathering of educators for technology every year. It requires membership to get full access, but their education blogs are freely accessible.
The Innovative Educator—Lisa Nielsen is The Innovative Educator. She works tirelessly to help change school for those that matter the most, which are the students. Seeking out resources to help them experience relevant and real-world success, she makes sure that all voices are heard.
EdTech Roundup—Michael Karlin's EdTech Roundup was formed in early 2013 to help out educators with the challenges of technology integration. You'll find technology news, reviews, lessons, app ideas, and more on this great blog.
FreeTech4Teachers—Richard Byrne is a former social studies teacher who now runs this blog. It's a treasure trove of resources for educators all over the world. Read about his own personal innovative milestones as an educator, and then dive into the great stuff he has on offer for all kinds of teachers in all kinds of classrooms.
Cycles of Learning—Ramsey Musallam is a featured speaker on TED Talks. He describes the mission for his blog as one designed "to create inquiry-based learning environments fueled by student curiosity and exploration." There is some really quality stuff here that's worth exploring in detail.
Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything—Kathy Schrock has amassed an impressive array of resources in her many years as an educational technologist. In addition to her own articles, she also has a list of her own recommended education blogs. Her main website is incredibly well-organized, like a card catalog of resources too numerous to mention. Dive in and explore Kathy's efforts—you won't be disappointed.
Many more educators are speaking about transforming education to keep up with the profession's transformational pathway on their own budding education blogs. This, at least, is a starting point to begin the discussion in your neck of the woods!