Promoting best practices in education by encouraging “teacher to teacher” evidence sharing
SHARE THE EVIDENCE
Imparting students with knowledge is the fundamental key to employability, lifelong learning, and empowerment. The teaching and learning process greatly determines the learner’s ability to integrate into society- this is underpinned by attempts of using an integrated approach towards improving educational standards a relevant pillar for ensuring sustainable and social development in today’s fast-changing world (UNESCO, 2018). Although practitioners constantly come up with evidence on best practices in education, the findings so far are conflicting with the traditional teaching practices and there has been no consensus on which practice is best. Despite evidence on best practices for education, some teachers are still grounded in their conventional methods of teaching and class management that they completely ignore this available evidence. For instance, evidence has shown that corporal punishment does not work (Larzelere,2005)[i], (Blaya, 2008)[ii], (Valdebenito, 2018)[iii] and that it is associated with serious adverse effects and undesirable outcomes such as anger, shame, trauma, violence, injuries, etc. Nevertheless, 80% of teachers and parents we interviewed approve of physical punishment and see it as the best way of disciplining a child;
“I do not see why corporal punishment should not be used; it is sometimes the only way out in disciplining a child. It should be used rationally though.” Patricia (teacher/parent)
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. “Proverb 23:13”’” Dickson (Teacher/Parent)
“You cannot teach a Form 1 class without a cane” Peter (teacher)
“We are not in the western world, in Africa the best way of disciplining a child is with a cane” Laure (teacher)
This point to the fact that there is a huge knowledge gap between evidence availability and its implementation as well as some underlying individual and population-level determinants such as ignorance, lack of information, poor insight and training among teachers and parents which needs to be taken into consideration in designing evidence implementation.
What is more daunting is the fact most policymakers and practitioners have limited access to available in our setting. It is therefore important to bring together teachers with a mastery of the available evidence with those with limited knowledge for them to share their expertise in educational best practices with the latter through training, collaboration, mentorship, and partnership.
From my experience, most teachers are sensitive to best practices provided it is explained in a way they can relate to.
As an illustration, the few discussions I have had with teachers have been really promising;
“I never thought about having a verbal discussion rather than spanking, I am going to give it a try” Tom (teacher)
“Wow there is so much evidence on the subject matter; how come the government is not disseminating this” Alfred (teaching)
In essence, consumption of evidence is really poor in our environment giving way to undesired outcomes and wastage of scarce financial resources. Training local lead teachers in evidence-based education and assisting them in imparting this knowledge and skills to their other colleagues will surely address this challenge.
[iii] Valdebenito, S., Eisner, M., Farrington, D. P., Ttofi, M. M., & Sutherland, A. (2018). School‐based interventions for reducing disciplinary school exclusion: a systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 14(1), i-216.
UNESCO 2018: http://en.unesco.org/themes/learning