Fethy Letaief, Distinguished Senior EFL Teacher, ISA Ambassador with the British Council, Motivational Speaker, Tunisia

Fethy Letaief currently works as a Senior English & ICT Teacher with Pioneer Prep School of Sousse Tunisia. For several years now, he has been working on implementing the global inclusive dimension in the curriculum. He also coaches other educators on the productive use of digital tools and the network. Awarded twice with International school award for education, he is now serving as an ambassador with British Council, Tunisia. He was awarded the National Motivational Speaker award in 2011. He is an experienced tour leader of “Students Linguistic Trips Abroad” organizing students’ trips. Fethy is an official translator and the PR contact for the popular football team in the county Etoile du Sahel.

“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth back to.” This statement by Dave Hollis calls attention to the most essential educational challenges in times of dramatic changes. I believe that 21st-century learners, as well as educators, have a Chameleonic potential. They are able to fit in and to develop a more purposeful quality learning that is laudable at all times and in all contexts.

In this article, I’ll touch on the key pillars of education and purposeful learning.
I’ll try to reveal the impactful role of resource hubs and digital educational magazines in revolutionizing learning. I’ll try to share expertise about the 4 essential learning skills to be retained and how to instil them in learners so that they face the challenges of the real-world locally and globally.

Timeless Key Pillars of Education
Quite assuredly, there are two key pillars related to education. Content and Connection. Content refers to the academic performance of learners namely studying sciences and languages in order to achieve learning outcomes related to the curriculum. Naturally, teachers need to stimulate learners’ curiosity and use effective ways to help them develop their competence while retaining critical and creative skills (we will tackle this later on).

The second key pillar is Connection. This is related to the social and emotional needs of learners including meeting and hanging out with friends, giving and receiving feedback or even the daily regular routines of a school day which turn into a luxury during days of forced schools closure for a reason or another. Educational leaders have recently given more importance to empathy, resilience and the wellness of learners as well as educators which announced positive change towards quality purposeful education. Still, more efforts are needed to implement this more equitably locally and globally.

Duly, learning is not an isolated event that happens in one place. There is a human endeavour to make it convenient for a diverse global society. There are no passengers in this endeavour, we are all crew; learners, educators, educational and political leaders are all concerned. There is no personal change without structural changes. In fact, we need more purposeful learning that comes along with purposeful teaching and committed professional development. I would agree that this can only be achieved if we upgrade literacy to include new types such as Digital, Cultural and Critical literacy. Only then may we talk about value-added and effective learners progress.

It is obvious that technology is having its impact on promoting the quality of teaching in physical and virtual contexts including international exchange and E-learning. No need to avoid it anymore. It is already tested that learning effectively and actively happens when learners acquire Essential Skills along with digital literacy, all embedded in an updated content that celebrates communication and collaboration. In the years ahead, learning needs to be boundary-less, socially synthesized and student-focussed. We talk about ‘digital native’, which is a term coined by Marc Prensky, ‘a generation moving ahead in its own direction… incorporating its birthright –digital technology –into its life’.

I would add who is assisted by inspiring skilful educators. Thus a ‘new’ learner requires a ‘new’ educator capable of paving the way to discussions in order to make significant progress in oracy, critical thinking and to boost cultural capital. It is more about life-long learning in a changing world and it is not limited to physical space which is the case for the modern economy and the new workforce. Educators do not need to worry about this. They can lead the whole action far beyond their usual role in schools. Matching the virtual to the physical leads to many learning and professional opportunities. It opens doors to a more interactive learning environment; hence, the benefits of global learning exchange programs as well as resource hubs and digital educational magazines. In this context I want to share my own expertise using the following:

  • The Economist Educational Foundation resources hubs and global conversations.
  • Connecting classrooms global learning exchange program and the online portal related to this offering CPD, learning resources and opportunities of educational partnerships.
  • K12 Digest digital international education information portal and magazine

As an ambassador of international education with the British Council and as an advisory board member of K12 digest, the above-mentioned portals are giving the opportunity not only to learn information but also to analyse and evaluate them, and to express thoughts while interacting with other learners, educators and experts. Surely there are other portals that aim at inspiring and supporting educators and learners to implement and lead purposeful learning intrinsically linked to wellbeing. I can even go further by encouraging educators to design their own portals themselves or hubs to promote digital literacy. Thereby, learning occurs anytime, anywhere and as a matter of fact, we turn to be all learners.

On that account, a new pedagogy is emerging, which requires a new educational culture that broods over Essential Skills. I would rather call them essential than soft.

The 4 Essential Skills

  • Scepticism: Questioning information to find the truth.
  • Reasoning: Justifying a viewpoint.
  • Open-mindedness: Listening to or reading other viewpoints.
  • Speaking up: Confidently communicating a viewpoint

Educators can instil the above skills in their learners via a variety of ways.

  • Classrooms activities: Working on global topics and adapting them to the curriculum which enables global exchange and makes the content more valuable and diverse.
  • Video conferencing: For instance, teachers can receive guests with expertise and hold targeted conversations to enhance questioning techniques and build confidence while speaking up. It can also be a regular online exchange with other classes from other local or international schools.
  • Regular forums and training: Weekly forum in a school meeting space outside the classroom where learners take the lead to discuss topics with the school community namely parents, principals, other teachers and experts.
  • Global conversations: This to work on global collaboration and interaction via virtual partnerships or online global projects using educational portals and resources hubs. Learners can interact with their peers via starting discussions, commenting, competing and responding to experts or educational leaders ‘questions and feedback. Here again, the task of educators is vital for guiding, devising work plans and setting frames.

All things considered, I have a firm belief that educators are the celebrities of all ages. They are the creators of futures. They are doomed to be innovators of effective practices that instil perspective recognition, global awareness, collaborative and Essential skills in learners.

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