Advances and research in the field of education do not usually have as much impact or be as immediately useful as those that occur in the fields of health, science, technology and engineering. Education is not an exact or experimental science, and although neuroscience has a lot to say about how our brain assimilates information , the truth is that we are so different from each other that it is difficult to find proven effective formulas.
But there is no doubt that you can be a scientist by teaching, and you can be a scientist by researching education. The findings may not be as incontrovertible as the effectiveness of a new vaccine or images from the farthest reaches of the galaxy, but they have an important long-term effect. At the end of the day, it is about ensuring that discoverers and researchers continue to emerge from the classrooms in all fields.
For example, what does science tell us about the best way to learn to write ? Are textbooks necessary to achieve this? Or when and why do children and adolescents learn best ? Is the Montessori method effective, according to studies ?
Another way to be scientific is by analyzing and comparing (anonymous) data from millions of students in a country to make objective and informed decisions about the educational system: its successes, its shortcomings, the areas that need improvement . Starting with something as simple as finding out how many students do not finish compulsory basic education in order to investigate the reasons and possible solutions .
In addition to educating with science, during 2023 we have published many articles on how to teach science . Discover if our children have that inquiring spirit that can be encouraged from early childhood and help, with workshops and activities, to ensure that enthusiasm does not wane.
We have explained why you should not resign yourself to being bad at mathematics , how to create authentic mathematical problems worthy of the name, and even offered the possibility of taking mathematical walks .
Learning to express yourself, the key to a full future
If the sciences are important, language is essential. Language acquisition during the first years of life is one of the fundamental milestones of development. This year we have been able to investigate the effects that the pandemic had on those who lived those months confined and surrounded by masks, the pandemic generation .
Acquiring is one thing, learning another : from the moment we start school, the language subject is present in our lives until we finish compulsory education. The “torture” of morphology, syntax and text comments has no other objective than to give us the most important tool in the vital development of any person: to communicate effectively. Obvious things, such as understanding what we read , and being able to express ideas orally or in writing in a clear way, are not innate.
Language management is so important that at The Conversation we have decided to launch this year a mini-section or series of articles dedicated to linguistic doubts and curiosities of all kinds, from where the ñ comes from to why commas are so important . We have called it On the Tip of the Tongue and we hope to continue exploring the thousand facets and origins of words.
Diversity and customization
The future of education lies in a classroom (real or virtual) where the teacher or co-teachers can thoroughly understand the strengths and shortcomings of each student and adapt the way of teaching to those particularities. Classrooms are already diverse in multiple aspects, from the socioeconomic, linguistic, geographical and cultural configuration of the students to the very different needs, abilities, identities and sensitivities that exist among them: teachers demand that they be trained to face this diversity, knowing how to detect it and be able to take advantage of it.
For example, in the case of high capacities . Boys and girls ( although these are more camouflaged and more difficult to identify) who stand out for their maturity, their ability to understand, their high degree of perfectionism, and who may feel disengaged from the flow of a traditional-style master class.
And how to deal with diversity in physical education class? This subject, which may be the most hated by some students , needs to include other scales in its evaluation methods, and teach that what is important is not the results, but the process . A difficult topic for some children to digest, but all the more essential to understand and learn.
Concentrate, stop, attend
In the year 2023, the concern of educators and families about the effects of the digital life of children and adolescents has been increasing: if even adults find it more difficult to read a long text , stop or overcome mental laziness , what can be its effect on the little ones?
Researchers from different fields have taught us to be good digital parents , or to lead by example and not ignore children for looking at their cell phones. We have taken this challenge very seriously, and have published expert articles highlighting the importance of teaching, supervising and not just prohibiting. Establishing agreed norms is more effective. Without overprotecting , because you also have to learn from mistakes.
ChatGPT: methodical and existential doubts
If the reader has come this far, they will probably wonder how it is possible that in 2023 we have not dedicated enormous space to talking about the technological disruption that defined this year, and that undoubtedly has important implications in the field of education.
Of course, we have done it. ChatGPT has required teachers to face a new way of evaluating and practicing . How will it affect the teaching of languages , history or science ? It can also help the university rethink its mission and meaning . It will undoubtedly have a positive application if we know how to incorporate it sensibly.
We live in interesting times to dedicate ourselves to education in all its areas, from the formal to the domestic. The challenges are various, to the point that teachers , fathers, mothers and guardians sometimes feel overwhelmed . Here we will continue to offer reflections and analyzes that are as scientific as possible to confront them, and whatever 2024 brings.
Author: Eva Catalan