Role of practical subjects teacher

Ityai Kurebwa
The revised curriculum should prepare the student for life beyond the class room. Previously we discussed that there is need for qualified TVET subject’s teachers who are preferably artisans or professionals in a specific occupation or trade to train productive students.

What really is new in the revised curriculum framework that was crafted in response to the Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training that was conducted in 1999?  This is a vital question that should be addressed, lest we remain in the old undesirable education system that has produced knowledgeable graduates who have little skills for life and/or industrial development.

The thrust of the revised curriculum should not only depend on new information in line with appropriate knowledge for the 21st century and its technological advancement but more so, on the effectiveness of education and skills development for the real world work.

Creativity and imagination at the highest level are vital for successful sound psychomotor-based education and training at all levels. It is imperative that the role of the teacher in the teaching learning process of practical subjects be re-considered.

The practical or technical subjects’ teacher does not only need to be innovative and entrepreneurial at his work, but instead should also be shrewd enough to promote a student centred learning environment which is conducive for positive learning.  This calls for complete mindset change for the teacher who had been exposed to the old classroom learning environment.

The teacher should also be empowered to create an interactive and collaborative environment between the students and their learning environment differences of the students. These methods include:

  • more out-of-the-class methods of teaching in the form mentorship,
  • coaching,
  • simulation,
  • on-the-job training,
  • case studies,
  • collaborative learning and so on.

In light of the above, a teacher who has skills in a specific trade or occupation and has a competence-based education and training approach is the right candidate.

It would be disgraceful to have a metal work teacher who is not able to construct a window frame, a wood technology teacher who takes days to produce a single chair or a food science teacher who cannot plan a meal, while he or she expects the students to be proficient in the respective areas.

Most successful football coaches are those that have been players at a high level of the sport. There is need for correct practical demonstrations by the coach. An excellent mentor should be able to do what he teaches. He or she understands what it entails to successfully execute a given task to desired expectations. He or she never exposes her learners to what she has never been exposed to.

Qualified artisans are creative enough to synchronise the syllabus with real life activities within a specific learning environment. Students who are instructed, mentored and coached by artisans will find it easy to observe, imitate, practice and master a skill. It is therefore critical to mould skilled practical subject teachers who are geared to train students for work rather than for certification, lest we dwell in the academic oriented education system.

There is need for improvisation within the teacher in order to equip the children with detailed transferable or convertible knowledge in any practical subject if learning is to be relevant. For instance in agriculture, the student should not only know where the food originates from but also the whole production chain from planting, harvesting and packaging. The student should be taught this in the field, not only in the classroom.

Basically all regions of the country have some form of agricultural activities that are instrumental in the survival of the specific environments. This could be animal husbandry, small grain production, maize farming, tomatoes, sugarcane and madhumbe.

The teacher should facilitate learning of products in the specific area. Practical subjects should contribute to solving low productivity challenges in local communities. This hinges to a greater extent on the type of teacher we as a country have produced.

Do we have teachers of this calibre? As we implement this practical or TVET-based curriculum, are our colleges geared to produce teachers of this calibre? Do our colleges empower students through improvisation of equipment and methods of teaching? Education should seriously consider the need for developing the appropriate psychomotor-based teacher.

Would it not be wise to transform the agriculture extension officers who are not very productive in urban areas to become teachers? We need to see vibrant agricultural activities at schools. Pupils should be taught to produce in real terms. This calls for teachers who do not believe that learning is only possible within the confines of the classroom.

Practical subjects need very little of classroom work. Those calculations and notes can be done in the workshop or in the field of work. Teachers play a key role in creating a good learning environment.

Practical learning should reflect the values of the community and should be transferable to everyday life experiences.

The practical teacher should be able to make use of scarce resources to implement meaningful training. He should not be a cry baby but should motivate students to soldier on, even in difficult circumstances. Motivation is an inseparable companion of the learning process.

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