I read an article in the Globe and Mail recently. The article mentioned Graham Johnson, a teacher at Okanagan Mission Secondary school in Kelowna, B.C., who has given up “lecturing” his students and instead turned to delivering basic instruction using pre-recorded video lessons which could be accessed from a student’s home. Essentially, Mr. Johnson has turned to the “Flipped Classroom” model. As many educators know this model essentially removes the teacher as the “sage on the stage” and has them instead act as a true facilitator of learning.
In this model, students work at their own pace and take control of their own learning, while the teacher acts as a support – guiding students on how to best use resources, providing them with information to extend their learning and ensuring they remain engaged. Basic lessons are delivered through the use of multi-media, and the teacher can concentrate on working directly with students. The flipped classroom is described in more detail in Clayton Christensen’s book, Disrupting Class. I just purchased the book and hope to find the time to give it a read soon.
I’m not sure if the Flipped Classroom is the way to go. However as a former administrator at a secondary school where students learned following a highly successful self-directed model, I know the real potential of empowering students to take control of their own learning by providing them opportunities to learn at their own pace. The Flipped Classroom may prove to be yet another educational fad, but its core premise of allowing students to direct their own learning has real merit. The world has changed and as educators we need to recognize this change and adapt accordingly. These days I find myself often hearkening back to the old Chinese proverb, “Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.”
Wise words remain wise even when the times have changed so radically.