Active Learning

Much of the vocabulary in our modern schools was absent in the schools of fifty years ago. There was no talk then, for example, of “international mindedness”, of work on “authentic tasks”, of tolerance of differences, of differentiated learning, of cooperative learning or of lifelong learning.

Of course, there are important similarities in the schools of yesterday and the schools of today. Schools have always been devoted to the learning and development of the young. Teachers are still mentors who are crucial to student success.

Schools in the future will be based on the best practices at schools today. Teachers will continue to play an essential role in the learning process. They will nurture students and encourage them to meet the highest expectations possible.

Despite these important continuities, teachers today have more chances to encourage students to overcome complacency, to individualize instruction and to dedicate themselves to helping students understand the human condition and what is known about the pitfalls, pressures and opportunities of the current and the coming world.

Increasingly sophisticated technologies now allow students to avoid learning in a single place and at a set time. The revolution in ICT and an embrace of best practices mean that our best schools no longer privilege rote learning and memorization. Educators realize that they must teach their students to process and evaluate information and to use it in a creative and discerning manner. This means that student success now depends on working together to solve real-world problems. It no longer depends on getting students ready for paper-and-pencil tests.

Fifty years ago, the assembly line was the metaphor that most educators accepted as descriptive of the educational process. Students came to school and either learned at the same rate as their peers or else failed. In the non-linear and non-assembly line world of the twenty-first century, students learn cooperatively and actively.

Active and cooperative learners:

  1. Discuss with one another what they are learning.
  2. Ask each other and their teachers about what they don’t understand.
  3. Share their experiences and debate one another.
  4. Teach one another mini-lessons and make presentations.
  5. Identify problems, gather information and solve them.
  6. Engage in role-playing.
  7. Connect what they are learning to what they have learned before.
  8. Learn by working with others as a team.
  9. Take risks and set ambitious learning goals for themselves.
  10. Reflect on what they are learning and how well they manage their time.

The emerging focus on active and cooperative construction of knowledge is the real promise of the revolution now taking place in our school and carrying us forward to the school of the future. It’s a vision we are committed to achieving and is one important reason that we have become an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, a UNESCO Associated School and a Super Global High School Associate.


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