Teachers need new skills to wean off textbooks

In the new high school education programme, textbooks are no longer the only source for teaching. Teachers have more autonomy in the teaching process, but many have not been able to catch up with the idea.

Dinh Quang Bao, former principal of Hanoi Pedagogical University, talks about the issue.

Teachers need new skills to wean off textbooks
Many teachers are still not completely accustomed to “weaning” off textbooks. Photo laodong.com.vn

After more than two months of the new programme, many teachers are still not completely accustomed to “weaning” off from textbooks. How do teachers need to change?

In my personal experience, when giving lectures in master's and PhD classes, I often ask my students to analyse the textbook programmes to see the relationship between the programmes and the textbooks. Anyway, they can only talk about textbooks. It means they just pick up the textbooks to teach, like going on stage to act but not reading the script before.

This is the first thing that needs to be renovated when applying the new High Education Programme. Pedagogical schools need to give students the capacity to develop teaching programmes. It is necessary to train pedagogical students to read and understand the programmes. Current teachers have not been trained in this skill well, so many of them don’t try to understand the programme before teaching, but only pick up the textbooks to teach.

Before teaching a lesson from the textbook, one must understand what the programme requires. Once you have a grasp of the programme, it is the teacher's job to get the “ingredients” in this book or another, as long as those contents help students meet the requirement of the programme. This is a very open approach.

The reason teachers still depend on the content of the textbook is the textbook has its own value. The editors of books are very good experts in that field. Before compiling the book, the writers had to understand the programme very well. Textbooks are a tool to realise the programme. However, to realise the programme, not only textbooks can help.

 

Textbooks have many functions, that is the source of information presented in a well-crafted manner, although it is not really perfect. 

Does the teacher's dependence on textbooks go against the spirit of innovation?

Not really. Textbooks are tools, but it is necessary to train teachers to refer to many sources of materials to teach, to know the beauty of many different books, that is the capacity to be trained. If a teacher only sees one thing in a textbook and then teaches it without knowing how to select the good things of other books to combine, it is very limited. Pedagogical schools need to pay attention to fostering students to know how to use many different teaching sources. 

What solutions are needed for teachers to meet the new requirements of the new high school education programme?

Most of the teachers now have access to the new programme. The Ministry of Education and Training also has a programme to train teachers to implement a new programme sponsored by the World Bank. This is an immediate programme. The State also has many activities to improve teachers’ competence, not just focusing on pedagogical schools. However, innovation needs a process, to change a habit takes time and meticulousness, it can’t be changed overnight. Sometimes it is merely a habit to depend on textbooks, not a matter of the teacher's ability. Changing the teachers' mindset can be done, but it takes time for them to be sensitive and reactive to practical situations, which is very important. VNS

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