Alex Beard: How to Solve for the Global Education Crisis caused by The Pandemic 


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Alex Beard is the Senior Director at Teach For All , and author of the book Natural Born Learners. After starting out as an English teacher in a London comprehensive, He completed an MA at the Institute of Education before joining Teach For All. His book, “Natural Born Learners”, is a user’s guide to transforming learning in the twenty-first century, taking readers on a global tour into the future of education, from Silicon Valley to Seoul, Helsinki to Hounslow.

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Here’s the timestamps for the episode:

(00:00) – Introduction

(01:43) –The methods used to teach would probably be familiar to Socrates two and a half thousand years ago in ancient Greece. Few things have been done differently inside the classroom. The gap between what is possible, and what was currently true in the classroom is at the heart of our education crisis.

(03:03) – The pandemic has widened the educational divide. The pandemic has exacerbated the crisis and intensified some of these questions about the future of education.

(06:30) – Education must consider access and quality. But with schools shut down, access becomes an infrastructure through the internet and that’s a relatively technical solution.

(07:38) – If you’re not going to school, quality of education is knowledge received sitting in your bedroom via your laptop, which has completely disrupted our idea of what a quality education is.

(08:19) – The vast majority of primary and middle school kids are just not equipped with self motivation yet, so quality has to mean something about human to human engagement. Learning, for most people, is better when it’s social.

(13:40) – Practitioners have had to develop new pedagogies, new ways of learning, how to engage kids through the medium of technology. You need to know how to engage a student.

(15:16) – We might be strengthening bonds between teachers and parents, as a result of the pandemic to support early learning, virtually, and that involves engaging parents more actively in supporting their kids to learn.

(18:48) – Our intelligence is unlimited, and it’s teachers in schools that cultivate that potential. We need to be more explicit about the different roles that teachers play, and set up our system to enable teachers as subject specialists who help kids to do better.

(21:12) – Teachers need to be experts in tech, at least to understand how they can use the latest tools to outsource bits of their practice to save themselves time.

(30:22) – AI is sort of an adversary to help us enhance our own creativity. The dangers are more connected to the intentions. It all comes down to human choices if you deploy technology and in certain ways undermine the ability of humans to get better at things. Lots of people are designing to enhance the humans in the loop, which is how we should be thinking about it.

(36:33) – There are great advances to be made in the deployment of technology in education, but the advances will be made not by trying to improve tech, but by trying to improve what the humans who are doing with tech. Investment in people and not an investment in technology.

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