Here is a question worth finding an answer for – are teachers ready to teach learners about robotics, coding and other technology-focused subjects?
The Department of Basic Education recently announced that Coding and Robotics would be added to the curriculum for Grade R to Grade 9 students. Initially, the subject will be piloted in 54 schools with a view to introducing it to more schools in future.
The question many will be asking is whether teachers are prepared for this new subject particularly as regards how they teach or their pedagogy as it is referred to.
One person asking this rather important question is director of product and services at Pearson Africa, Dr Benadette Aineamani.
“There is a need to unpack the pedagogical content knowledge that is required to teach Coding and Robotics at different phases in the schooling system,” explains Aineamani.
This is an extremely valid point. For folks like us that have entrenched ourselves in technology, it might be easy to explain what a blockchain is, but try explaining it to a nine year old Grade 3 learner and things become a bit more complex.
Adding to that complexity is the diverse nature of language in South Africa.
As Aineamani points out, learners enter school with a home language in tow and teachers need to embrace this language for purposes of instruction.
“This is the language that they have been using to communicate, this may be not be the same as the language of teaching and learning. The school system should embrace the learner’s language that is already developed and use it as a resource to help the learner understand concepts and skills that are taught in the language of teaching and learning,” the director says.
It’s vital then that when training teachers to educate learners in the various technological fields, that special attention is paid to the language aspect.
One way to tackle this, according to Aineamani.
“For this to be successful, a conscious effort should be made to develop an effective register for Coding and Robotics in all the official languages. This will then enable teachers and learners to have a vocabulary available to them when using any language as a resource to teach or learn concepts and skills in Coding and Robotics,” the director proposes.
In solving the challenges Coding and Robotics could present, Aineamani recommends learning from the challenges faced in teaching Mathematics and Science.
“Due to the link between Mathematics, Science and Coding and Robotics, these challenges can be used to inform decisions that need to be taken in order to successfully implement the subject,” says the director.
In order to do this effectively, the Department of Education must collaborate with teachers and schools to find the best solution when it comes to teaching technology.
The real question then is not whether teachers are ready but whether the Department of Education is ready to provide the support teachers need when teaching these subjects. More is needed than a curriculum to follow especially given how complex technology is and how rapidly the sector evolves.
Unfortunately we don’t have an answer, but this is a question worth answering before we are left with a lacklustre technology education system.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]