Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 10th 2017 Contents 4 UWI TODAY -- SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER, 2017
UWI/GUARDIAN PREMIUM OPEN LECTURE SEPTEMBER 29, 2017
e greatest classroom I have ever witnessed was a garage.
At the mechanic's in Cunupia, waiting for the car, I
saw outstanding students. Young, male, from low-income
backgrounds; they fit the type. The type that under-
performs, dri s into delinquency, fades out of the school
system. But here they were, eyes xed under the hood or
beneath the body of an elevated vehicle, following the
commands of the senior mechanic (a young man himself),
accepting his teaching and good-natured scolding.
Best of all they had that look of quiet con dence.
Why shouldn't they? ey were being taught a subject they
enjoyed, in a method that worked, for a career-ready skill,
by a teacher they respected.
How di erent from the conventional school experience.
"I believe it's time to teach e ciently," says Dr. Lodge
McCammon in one of his keynote addresses to a room
full of educators. It's a very di erent type of address. e
actual Dr. McCammon is in the audience while his virtual
self, recorded by smartphone, speaks to the attendees.
He's simultaneously teaching and supervising. He's in two
places at once.
How e cient is that?
On September 29, Dr. McCammon will speak on his
innovative teaching methods at the Daaga Auditorium at
the St. Augustine Campus for the UWI/Guardian Group
Premium Open Lecture. Titled "Ignite the Brain: Is
Flipping the Answer?", the lecture will look at the "Flipped
Classroom" teaching method, which uses tools such as
video lessons to increase student engagement and learning.
e UWI/Guardian Group Premium Open Lecture
is a collaborative event of the St. Augustine Campus and
the Guardian Group. Starting in 1998, the partnership was
formed to promote and support teacher excellence.
Reforming the educational system has been a concern
of policymakers, educators and citizens for several decades.
Joel Henry is a writer and editor.
e man who ips the classroom
BY JOEL HENRY
Progress has been uneven. In early 2016, Trinidad and
Tobago's Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, stated that "our
education system is failing, in so far as what we are really
achieving is putting our children through school and not
educating them." He said the mindset was one of valuing
"certi cation" over education.
Another major problem identi ed in the system is
low morale and performance among teachers. Earlier this
year it was reported that in 2015, over 480,000 "minutes
of lateness" by teachers were recorded in schools in Port
of Spain and environs. O cials point to teacher tardiness
and absenteeism as a major contributor to poor academic
performance and even violence in schools.
One of the major aspects of the ipped classroom
method is that it engages teachers as well as students.
"Teaching is a noble pursuit that provides a citizen the
chance to make a signi cant and lasting contribution to
society. It's sometimes di cult to nd purpose on a planet
with seven billion souls but every minute in the classroom
presents an opportunity to inspire a love of learning. is
inspiration is the primary element needed for building our
future," says McCammon.
Developed in the 1990s, the ipped classroom strategy
switches the traditional paradigm of teaching in class and
homework at home. rough recorded or online teaching,
students receive instruction outside of the classroom and
use class time for more proactive and engaging work.
The "McCammon Method" of "flipped teacher
training" has three components. Firstly, all lectures are
recorded and made available online, allowing students to
watch them any time, as many times as they want. Secondly,
students are required to form groups and teach the content
themselves. irdly, students are made to move around
during class, not remain stationary at their desks.
" ese three strategies create an e cient and active
learning environment," Dr. McCammon says.
e method, he says, saves valuable class time, captures
the attention of students and teaches them more e ectively,
and provides greater accountability for teachers, who now
have easily accessible video records of their work.
His method has been well-received. McCammon
works with school districts, universities, non-pro ts and
businesses, in areas such as curriculum development and
training, in the US. These include Rutgers University,
Microsoft Inc., and Discovery Education, the digital
education division of the same company as the Discovery
Channel. He is also a classically trained musician and uses
music as a component of his teaching methods.
But can this approach be used to improve our
education system with its deeply embedded cultural inertia
and colonial-era practices?
"I certainly hope so," he says. "I look forward to
meeting with a variety of educators in T&T to have rich
discussions about how they may be able to modify the
instructional strategies to address these challenges."
Apart from his lecture, Dr. McCammon's visit to
Trinidad and Tobago will also include a workshop with
local educators. Of the lecture itself he says: "My workshops
and speeches are quite active. I frequently ask the audience/
educators to discuss the teaching methods so they can
generate a better understanding about what modi cations
need to be in place for the innovation to be used in their
classrooms. is also gives me a chance to participate in
Perhaps, working together, and with the necessary
social and political will, they can nd solutions. Children,
despite their circumstances, can be educated. ey can
enjoy the process of learning. ey can nd a career and
lead productive lives. But you have to x the educational
system. What's needed is the right mechanics.
O cials point to teacher tardiness and absenteeism as a major contributor
to poor academic performance and even violence in schools.
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