This paper aims to describe the role of the teacher and his associated responsibilities, and to analyse the impact of his behaviours on his students and the wider community. For the purpose of the paper I refer to the teacher as “he” throughout.
The traditional role of the teacher is that of imparting knowledge by explanation or demonstration. Certainly, the teacher is employed by a school, company, training organisation or other institution to educate and inform. However, teaching is no longer considered to be a one-way process of a teacher standing at the front of a room regurgitating facts and figures to a classroom of passive students. Changes in social norms, employment requirements, technology, educational funding opportunities, for example, affect the role of the teacher; there is an ever-increasing recognition of the importance of the teacher as leader, motivator, protector, nurturer, listener and communicator, as well as informer. The recognition of the teacher’s diverse approach is particularly pertinent in the post-compulsory education sector, one driven largely by adults with different motivations, needs and expectations to those of children (Knowles, 1983). Recognition of the need for an overhaul of teaching delivery and standards in post-compulsory (or lifelong learning) education has led to changes in legislation over the past two decades, including the Further and Higher Education Act (1992) and the Education Act (2002). The resulting shift in focus, both with regards to teaching practice and the role of the teacher and his responsibilities, now forms part of a wider framework of standards from Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK, 2007), which also focuses on the continuing professional development (CPD) of teachers, trainers and assessors across a wide range of sectors. CPD is essential for the teacher to keep abreast of changes in legislation, research and teaching standards, as well as to enhance self-knowledge and develop a critical eye with regard to his own teaching approach. According to a survey conducted by Eurostat in 2002, more than one-third of adults aged 25 to 64 perceive that they do not know any foreign language (online) and yet, in a world which is becoming increasingly interconnected due to the rise of the budget airline, the outsourcing of workforces and a rise in international trade, the demand for speakers of more than one language is also increasing. Modern language teaching extends beyond memorizing vocabulary, rote learning verb tenses and studying for examinations. As well as language proficiency, language education policies also seek to endorse cultural understanding and positive cross-cultural attitudes, two areas intrinsically linked to the study and acquisition of any modern language. Lifelong Learning – What’s it all about?
Lifelong learning covers five specific areas:
- Community learning and development (including community development, adult learning and youth work) - Further (post compulsory) education (including colleges and specialist institutions) - Higher education (including universities and colleges)
- Library services
- Work-based learning, both privately and publicly funded
The aforementioned LLUK framework provides a structure for professionals, which is applicable to all five areas within the lifelong learning sector. There is certain debate, however, as to whether “raising standards of teaching is alone sufficient to improve learner achievement” (Wallace, 2010 p.11) Methodology, qualifications and ongoing challenges will vary according to the discipline being taught. Principally, the teacher must take responsibility for facilitating teaching via the cycle below:
Identifying the needs of the learners is critical before any programme can be implemented, and this is referred to in more detail on pages 15-16. Only by planning a course around these needs can learning take place, and the teacher must therefore be sensitive to his students’...