We have extensively read about the impact of the environment on people’s behavior, views, character, and performance. We need to be in constant contact with those whom we are committed to. Students as registered full-time recipients of knowledge spend much of their life in the schools! It means their future personality is under construction in an environment which is based on the collaboration and dialogic practices between the students and their peers, teachers, and principals. New ideas, novel images, and innovative solutions emerge through dialogue! Students need to live in the school! Learning is not verbatim memorization of the theories, formula, and theoretical contents; rather, it is communication and collaboration with all members of the school. We must remind the students that learning is a continuous non-stop practice which happens in each and every moment – inside and outside the schools. Students need to learn that we do not live in a vacuum; but we live in a community where divergent ideological cultural social educational political religious beliefs are living together. By “living in the school”, we mean that students are obliged to be empowered with required skills to help them thrive in their future life. Learning to read and write is no longer the optimum goal of education. In the same line, 21st century skills and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in action to provide prosperous and thriving life for all people worldwide.
There are some skills which cannot be included in our textbooks and curricula; rather, the educational policies must create a friendly flexible training environment so that the school teachers and principals can move beyond the rigid syllabi. In this context, we witness the emergence of collaboration and dialogue. The teachers will have the authority to modify the materials based on the students’ needs, their levels of proficiencies, as well as the cultural, social, political, economic, and religious context outside the schools. Our students, in this context, will get a real portrayal of the larger society. There are three real-life skills which help the students for success in their future life: Collaboration; Academic Dialogic Conversational Skills; Tolerance/ Co-existence.
Students need to learn the importance of caring and sharing. Our life does not happen in a vacuum; rather, it is based on the collaboration among members of each society. We need a generation of the students who care about each other and such sense of commitment to the society and its members must be shaped during the school years. It can be practiced in each and every moment in the schools. The road to success in life has numerous speed bumps; hence, it might be true that most students feel exhausted early in their journey as they fail to live in a friendly academic dialogic-based environment with the other members of their schools. COVID-19 was the last sword to the heart of the learning journey as students have not met their team for two years. Hence, it is the collaboration which makes students perfect.
“I don’t like to study in a vacuum! I believe I need to learn in real context! I need to talk to my friends. I need to walk with my friends. I’ve lost the sense of sharing our chips and fruits with my lovely friends. I’ve lost the sense of being talkative.” (One student in her 4th grade- primary school)
Academic Dialogic Conversational Skills
We highlight that learning is beyond the students’ mere ability to read or write. Our students must be able to communicate, argue, criticize, and persuade in an appropriate manner. They even need to learn how to speak in the public. These are the basics which are not explicitly/ implicitly included in the syllabi and taught in the schools; rather, the educational policies outside the schools must give the authority to the school teachers and principals to modify their teaching practices. Students must (un)consciously learn how to argue with their peers on questions raised in the class; how to criticize their teachers’ teaching practice and the school principals’ management behaviour; or how to persuade the school team to alter their decisions. All these might happen if a dialogic-based teaching practice governs the classroom and school environments. Success in future life (job interviews, business meetings, political debates, etc.) depends on the students’ empowerment in the school years.
Educational policies, school principals, teachers, and unbelievably parents believe that we live to learn! In this case, everything is organized and prepared for the sake of learning. In this sense, students’ enjoyment of their life as a student is taken for granted. Students experience much pressure as teaching-learning continuum will be overwhelmed with numerous phobias – quizzes, mid-term and final exams, high-stakes tests, and failing a course. Teachers have no power to modify the teaching materials and textbooks. School principals also monitor the teachers’ teaching practice to move on according to the out of the school educational policies. So, all main stakeholders of education – students, teachers, principals, and parents- are obedient servants of the educational policies. And it leads to the suppression of their voice, creativity, and talents.
Living in the school is a key stage for students’ professional development! In most cases, it helps students shape their future identity or reshape their already shaped character and identity. Living in the school helps students confront totally divergent ideologies and beliefs. In such a case, they try to learn the keys to success for social life! What happens in such a continuum of teaching-learning practice in the school is learning to be patient and tolerant! It happens unconsciously; however, most students believe that we are consciously losing our patience and tolerance during the lockdown era! It is a DANGER for our future members of the society! As school graduates are obliged to join the outside community for future life; (im)patient and (in)tolerant members are not the goal and mission of the Education. If the two earlier skills are taught in our schools; the current students will be the tolerant and competent future members of their societies who enjoy a thriving and prosperous life.