Edtech companies have an unlikely competitor: schools

The pandemic has forced children to learn at home, and made edtech companies accessible to many children. Will this lead parents to compare learning outcomes of schools versus those of edtech startups?

Edtech companies have an unlikely competitor: schools

Thursday September 16, 2021,

5 min Read

Would you like to learn singing from someone who is moderately good at singing? Would you like to learn basketball from someone who barely enjoys playing basketball themselves?

You would not.

Then, how are we allowing the children in our schools to be taught by teachers who do not enjoy their subjects? How can students learn a subject from teachers who are not very strong at their own subjects?

Day after day, children are taught by teachers who may be amazing at classroom management but not sufficiently good at their own subjects.

This is a huge injustice to millions of children who are capable of learning. And, this needs to change.

A large gap for edtech companies to bridge

This has opened a large hole for many edtech companies to come in. Several edtech companies that provide online teaching see a big business opportunity in providing access to better teachers.

The pandemic has forced children to learn at home in front of their computers. And, this has made edtech companies accessible to many children. It also allowed the parents to compare school teachers with the teachers of online edtech companies.

Even parents have started wondering if there is even a need for them to send their kids to a school when better teaching exists outside the school through some edtech companies.

The loss of childhood

The most important stakeholder in this situation are young children.

Childhood should be the time to play, meet friends, and find hobbies. It should be the time to discover one’s interests and to learn social skills. Unfortunately, children first spend sight hours inside school and then learn the same topics outside the school through online tuitions. What a waste of childhood! What an inefficient way to learn!

Why not make our teachers so amazing that children do not feel the need to attend online tuitions after school hours?

How can schools can give a tough competition to the edtech companies?

Many people complain that teachers lack the motivation to teach. That, they are driven to teaching by chance and not by choice. While that is true, we cannot really blame the teachers. They have come from a system where they studied their subjects only for the exams.

Most teachers never studied the subjects for the pure joy of learning. It is almost like they have never tasted an ice cream to know how tasty it is. They have never seen the Burj Khalifa to know how beautiful a building can be.

Actionable ideas

In other words, how can we improve the teachers so that children do not need online tuitions?

Think of out-of-the-box teacher improvement ideas

The conventional teacher development method that schools follow is to invite a guest speaker who is an expert on a topic. The guest speaker then conducts a workshop with a group of 30-40 teachers. After the one-hour session, teachers mention how amazing the session was and then go back to their classrooms in teaching in the same manner.

Schools need to think beyond conventional teacher training ideas and think of new ways of training teachers. Schools need to realise that they don’t always need ‘trainers’ to train their teachers.

Some examples of out-of-the-box ideas that schools should use:

1. Change the questions that are asked in school assessments: Most teaching is aligned towards helping children score well in the school exams. Then, how about changing the questions in the assessments such that their answers cannot be find in the textbook or the teachers’ notes. This will push the teachers to teach for a better test and keep them on their toes.

2. Make teachers think like researchers: Give teachers challenging research projects in their subjects to work on.

Focus on making teachers discover the latent wonder in their subjects

Schools focus too much on pedagogical training, too little on the subject itself. Schools need to develop a sense of appreciation for science in the science teachers. Schools need to help math teachers find math amazing.

When teachers find the subjects wonderful, the sense of wonder will show on the faces and in the voices of teachers. And flow into the children.

Help teachers find their subjects amazing

What if someone gave teachers taste of how wonderful their subjects are? Who knows the teachers may appreciate the subjects with childlike enthusiasm!

In my experience of working with several science and math teachers, I have seen teachers feeling an a-ha moment when they find something amazing and new in a subject that they had been teaching for a decade.

When science teachers realise that each of our cells behaves like a vehicle engine, why we lean against a chair to make ourselves comfortable, and how the world would change if the Earth stopped rotating for a day, their eyes brighten up. When math teachers understand how compounding is used by people to become super-rich and how the method of finding LCM really works, they start to see math in a new light.

Schools have a large human resource of teachers. This large group of teachers are capable of seeing their subjects like the amazing subjects they are.

Schools that work on their teachers will flourish

In a few years, parents will have many more options of online tuitions and edtech companies. Parents will start questioning if they should even send their kids to schools for eight hours every day.

I think only those schools who improve their teachers will flourish. Other schools will start losing admission to good schools or to edtech companies.

Edited by Teja Lele

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)