Challenges and Openings

Breathing out a triumphant sigh of relief, taking my curtain call after, what I assumed, was a great performance in front of the group of 30 teachers, I asked if there was any questions, expecting pleasantries and praise. Instead, I was challenged.

"How can we reasonably expect to use these resources in a class of 80 students with all different levels?"

And I didn't have an answer.

This is something that has been ruminating in my mind for some time, yet the reality is so difficult, the answers so tenuous, that I had consciously chosen to bypass the topic all together.

This was an opening.

I pledged to return to my research, to find solutions to this simple question: how can teachers innovate, how can teachers inspire, how can teachers, themselves, change, in the enormous classrooms that are the defacto standard throughout the developing world, as a result of huge population bulges, education for all initiatives, and the broadening impact of media and communication?

This is the real challenge of the educational systems of the developing world. Not ICT integration, but how to innovate, how to sustain change, how to not fear change, when "on stage" and faced with 50, 60, 110, 120 sets of eyes.

Challenges and openings. A challenge with such limited answers that I will need to ask new questions. There seems to be a general silence that pervades research and literature on this issue, simply because it is so difficult to accept the realities of teachers. The top-down approaches, again, prove unworkable in difficult environments. We must continue to innovate, to brainstorm with the educators working in these conditions, as they certainly know best the challenges and solutions, sharing ideas, formulating responses, developing a "tool kit" that can be called upon in the most difficult of circumstances to promote learning.

Every challenge is an opening.