A Nuanced Approach to Successful Classroom Learning
Examining changes in teaching and technology with Armand Doucet
by Dr. Rod Berger
I had the pleasure to sit down and speak with international award-winning educator and social entrepreneur Armand Doucet to discuss the challenges facing today's classrooms. As a history teacher, he brings an interesting perspective on the relationship between shifts in society and adaptations in the classroom environment.
Classroom management and personalization have always existed in schools, but the method and vernacular have changed over time. Lecture-based, teacher-centered approaches of the past relied heavily on an educator finding a way to engage students in the material, but the results were often hit or miss. The same pitfalls are true today, but there is an added level to engagement emerging. "Personalization hasn’t really changed, but the way we approach it has and quite dramatically. It's gone from knowing the nuances of the classroom to knowing the nuances of the community, and knowing the nuances of how to reach all kids,” says Armand.
Terms like STEM and STEAM have become popularized and promoted but according to Armand, "It's just good teaching ─ cross-curricular, connecting things and making students come up. It's not necessarily the be-all and end-all or project-based learning." When approaching change, it comes down to a nuanced approach inside the classroom to achieve success. In the past, it was common for teachers to get to know students in a general sense while instilling learning more broadly. Today's classroom requires a more individually targeted approach to find success. Armand points out, "If I'm talking history and there's a kid who is really interested in finance, I can link Adam Smith to him, and we can talk about the building of capitalism and how that actually worked. It connects directly to him instead of looking at specificities of World War II, for example. " Additionally, a culture needs to be created that integrates both integrity and ethics. It's a task that Armand believes is one of "the hardest issue for teachers at the moment.”
Armand, who will be presenting at the upcoming Curiosity Conference on April 12, has also written a book, titled Teaching Life: Our Calling, Our Choice, Our Challenges that offers a roadmap to classroom-focused change in a world advancing technologically. As Armand sees it, there's a problem in education with edtech being too top-down in approach that often misses the most important voice in the equation ― the teacher. Technology innovation doesn't necessarily take into consideration what the teacher needs at a particular point. "The teacher in a professional atmosphere has more time to actually look at what's out there and bring in what is needed in his classroom to enhance the learning," says Armand. The question that needs to be answered is: Does the technology support the learning?
When it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education, Armand sees a great deal of promise as long as it remains an aid to teachers and not a hindrance. He mentions, "AI can do a lot of things that can help the teacher and that's the key." It should not put handcuffs on a teacher, nor monitor behavior. It should exist to boost the educator professionally. Data collection also poses a potential unintended negative and Armand is concerned about the implications of tracking. He forewarns, "In education, my worry is collecting data from the child and following him his whole life. People blossom at different stages of life. If data follows your whole life, then you are streamlined into different categories, I think that's an issue."
About Armand Doucet
Armand Doucet is an international award-winning, visionary and passionate Educator, Social-Entrepreneur and Business Professional. He recently wrote, Teaching Life: Our Calling, Our Choice, Our Challenges and was the project lead and co-author of the internationally recognized book Teaching in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Standing at the Precipice. Armand is a sought after leader, inspirational-speaker, facilitator, and columnist in multiple fields, who has contributed to UNESCO, Jack Ma Foundation, Global Education and Skills Forum, Qudwa Forum, National Meeting of Canadian History, CBC, Education Partners, BrainStem Symposium, Teach SDGs and TedX as well as many others.
He's a proven sales, marketing, team-building, and management abilities and over 25 years of community involvement, who has led and collaborated with teams around the world, and across different industries, towards success in education, health, non-profit and business. Armand is known for his strong leadership, superior networking skills, and motivational abilities. He is the founder and former President of the Ironwill Foundation, and a two-time Ironman Triathlete with a passion and drive to inspire, educate, and empower others.
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The 2019 Curiosity Conference, “AI in Education: A Journey in the Making,” will be held April 12 at The Corinthian in San Jose, California. Tickets are on sale now.