Careers & Education

Mico president urges innovative teaching

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 16, 2012    

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PRESIDENT of the Mico University College, Professor Claude Packer has challenged students of the institution to develop into teachers who can prepare students to think critically and solve problems rather than just pass examinations.

Packer is also urging the student-teachers to utilise calculators along with information and communication technology to improve learning in mathematics and other subject areas.

Addressing new students of Mico on the subject "Teacher education requires a radical transformation", he said local and regional examination curricula need to be revisited as many are "too content-driven with very little scope for applications to real-world problems".

The Mico president, who has long held the view that there is too much content in the Grade Six Achievement Test math exam, for example, called on teachers to prepare more fun and exciting lessons as many students find school boring.

He said schools need to play a greater role in shaping society's norms and values.

"How do we measure accomplishments? Is it the student with nine CSEC subjects with grade ones, but who might be a social moron, or the student who is able to problem-solve, able to apply principles to concepts, is sensitive to the needs/views of others, who values service, who is patriotic and Christ-like in many ways?" he asked.

Emphasising the importance of softer skills, such as proper dressing and grooming, Packer urged the teachers in training to "let students know it is not cute to be scruffy".

Stating that the use of calculators was not encouraged enough at the primary or lower-secondary level, he added that "calculator or computer utilisation should be an integral part of any discrete mathematics or statistics course".

Students should also collect their own data for use in statistics and math courses rather than use contrived data from a textbook, he said.

The Mico president also urged the use of online videos, podcasts, Skype and programmes like TuxMath to deliver lessons.

He has, too, called on teachers to use mobile phones and computers to deliver messages and homework from school.

"Encourage academic interaction through texting, and using websites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Be able to participate in discussions during office hours and through online tutorials," he said.

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