The 21st Century brought about unique challenges to teaching and learning, and therefore for teachers and for learners. Firstly, there is just too much to know and learn. According to Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, there is an over-supply of information, with information doubling every second day. There is also a democratisation of information, in the sense that it is easily accessible to everyone who wants to access it. It means learners are able to know more about something than their teachers. Add to this the epidemic of excellence, quality and performance, with nobody waiting for anybody who might be lagging behind.
This has far-reaching implications for teaching and learning. The most obvious is that learners need to can master masses of information in short times – binge learning, as it were. It also means that learners need to be able to discern, evaluate and weigh information as to its quality and reliability. Lots of available information also brings along lots of useless and plain erroneous information. In all of this learners need to master the huge volumes of reliable information available, while at the same time mastering the ability to change information into useable knowledge to grapple with relevant issues.
Teaching needs to address these challenges and implications. The realities are, however, that teaching often still is archaic in the sense that it mainly focusses on the mere mastery of facts, which is necessary, but not sufficient to address the realities of our times. Where there are attempts to transform teaching, it is sometimes based on pop psychology and neuro-myths, and might do more harm than good. It is also true that there is solid research about minds, brain and education available, but often these research results are hidden from practical application in the real-life situations where it is needed.
The results of this is almost confusing. Effective learning does take place – sometimes in spite of inadequate teaching, sometimes as the result of good teaching, and often as the result of brute brain power. Ineffective learning also occurs – sometimes in spite of good teaching, sometimes as the result of inadequate teaching, and sometimes in spite of good potential.
In the light of this, the Propel-Learn program is an attempt to assist parents, teachers and learners to engender effective learning. It is based on solid, reliable scientific enquiry into the mind, the brain and education. It translates the findings of this research into practical and useable strategies and techniques, which have been tried and tested with real students in real-life learning situations, providing good
results and outcomes. It is being made available through QR Codes on mobile devices, enabling users to have it with them at all times. At the same time this program does not claim to be a revolutionary “silver bullet” miraculously solving all problems, and is also not disregarding or discarding good teaching interventions that took place over many years.