Large classes, mixed abilities, budget cuts, low pay and language difficulties make teaching demanding and ultimately unattractive. Can technology solve the teaching crisis?
The state of play
There are 10,000 unoccupied teaching positions in Germany and as many as 30,000 filled by non-qualified, retired, new or student teachers.
As France prepares to cut public service budgets in 2019, up to 1800 secondary school positions will be scrapped and teachers are expected to work longer hours.
In the UK, it is predicted 50,000 new teachers are required by 2024 to cope with rising pupil numbers. European schools in Brussels face a similar struggle, where both staff and infrastructure have failed to adjust to increasing student numbers.
Can technology help?
David Klett, Managing Director at Europe’s largest educational publisher Klett Group, believes technology will have the most impact in developing countries.
Speaking with Adaptemy’s COO Conor Flynn in Episode 4 of the Future of Schools podcast, he explained that in educational situations where resources are extremely poor, where teachers barely exist at all, technology can have tremendous benefit.
But in well-developed educational systems such as those in Europe, technology is not going to save the day.
Will tech allow teachers to take a pastoral role?
Henry Warren, a former director of learning and innovation at global education company Pearson, believes tech will change the role of teachers.
In an interview with Tes he said, “I suspect what you are going to end up with is teachers taking a much more emotional role and leaving the content delivery to the computers … You can foresee a situation where you have someone who is effectively providing pastoral care. I don’t mean crowd control – I mean proper pastoral care.”
Could this make the job less demanding and more appealing?
Do we need to value teachers more?
Perhaps Europe needs to echo Japan’s educational system where success stems from the government’s commitment to, and reverence for, the profession.
$2000 less is spent per student each year than in the US yet an equal quality of education is ensured across the country regardless of house price or household earnings.
Entry into the profession is extremely difficult with just 5 in 200 passing the test in one year. Once qualified however, teachers receive a permanent role, guaranteed pension and a job in the prefecture (state) until 60.
It’s equally taxing to become a teacher in Finland, another country that stands out for its exceptional educational reputation. Training teachers is considered as important as training doctors. Just 7% gained entry into the primary school masters degree programme in Helsinki in 2015 leaving 1,400 disappointed.
That 7% are still two years from graduating but the in-depth training equips them with the autonomy to teach well, elevating their role and lessening the administrative burden.
How technology is helping today
The jury is out on what it will take to attract teachers to work in Europe’s schools and teach its next generation of students.
Adaptemy has helped introduce adaptive learning technology to a number of schools throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Here are some of the benefits we’ve witnessed.
Increased engagement: A recent study showed 88% of students were in flow when using the technology.
Grade improvements: a 26.6% grade improvement per concept for a group of maths students observed over a 6 month period.
Enjoyment: 97% of teachers believe students enjoy using the Adaptemy technology.
More time, less admin: Tech steps in to deliver aspects of the educational experience. Repetitive tasks in particular, when taught and practised through technology, free up teachers to deliver real value in the classroom.
Less admin, more data: Using technology as a homework tool can empower teachers to easily understand a student’s performance without marking assignments, essays or tests. Using the technology’s rich data, they’re then able to respond with lesson plans precisely tailored to the needs of the class.
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