By Nicolas Artemis
The unprecedented times we are all going through are affecting and shaping our daily lives, activities and even our mindset. Similarly, the education sector has not remained unaffected.
With the support of all school staff, the teachers of the International School of Paphos (ISOP), immediately utilised the opportunities offered by new technologies and began remote lessons, from the very first days that the preventive measures were enforced. Any technical difficulties were quickly overcome and online learning enabled the students to continue their studies despite these difficult times. Our students’ response to the new conditions was more than positive. Not only did it please us, but it gave us the strength and courage to continue our efforts with more determination and optimism.
There is no doubt that digital learning is an emergency solution, a fact widely accepted by almost all those involved in the educational process.
This however does not mean that the possibilities it offers can be disputed, as it is a valuable tool, which is important for every teacher. However, in-classroom teaching, in its traditional form, entails so much more. It entails emotional connections between teachers and students, cooperative learning that contributes to social cohesion, improved self-esteem, enhanced mutual respect and developing critical thinking, but also understanding the deeper meaning of being successful in life.
Each action by a teacher or student, every activity, holds a message. Indicatively, the way students raise their hand to ask or answer questions indicates the way they see themselves and others.
Furthermore, the teacher’s expression demonstrates the relationship and feelings he has for his students, while the relationship between the individuals in the class determines to some extent the level of progress that will be achieved.
Without a doubt, the pandemic, in the midst of so many difficulties and problems, teaches us some valuable lessons. It helps us clarify basic principles, which may either have faded, or been downgraded over the years.
It has reinstated the values that are necessary and capable of changing our world for the better.
The teacher therefore, is not a faceless technological creature that can impart knowledge. On the contrary, the teacher is the one who inspires and instructs, who solves problems and finds solutions, who encourages and promotes critical thinking, always driven by the burden of shaping the next generation, and accomplishing what Nelson Mandela said many years ago about the power of education, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
*Nicolas Artemis is Key Stage 5 coordinator and mathematics teacher at ISOP