The introduction of active methodologies in education has generated intense discussions:
Are they really effective to supply learning?
How do they contrast with more traditional methodologies?
Bell hooks, in her book "Teaching to Transgress", argues that active methodologies, which involve students actively and critically in the learning process, are vital for social liberation and transformation. In Hooks' vision, learning is an act of both freedom and resistance, and it is through the application of active methodologies that teachers can stimulate this process of transformation.
Hooks argues that the classroom should be a space of change and challenge, where students are encouraged to question, reflect and challenge preconceived ideas. Active methodologies, by involving students in the learning process, can provide the necessary framework to foster this type of critical learning environment. For Hooks, the implementation of these methodologies is essential not only for individual learning, but also to foster a more just and equitable society.
From a practical standpoint, Harvard University recently conducted a study (https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.1821936116) that yielded interesting results. On the one hand, he identified students who learn more in active classrooms, where participation is encouraged through discussions, interactive activities and hands-on projects, than in passive classrooms, where students receive mainly lectures. However, students in active classrooms reported a lower perception of learning compared to those in passive classrooms. This discrepancy between actual learning and the perception of learning can be a challenge for professors and teaching evaluation systems.
In any case, the question is not whether active methodologies are better than a more instructional system, but we can say that the main challenge lies in how we design the learning experiences. Are we certain that the design, the fundamental element of the entire learning process, has been established to ensure effective and meaningful scaffolding of knowledge and skills for students' personal and academic development? Therefore, the development of these learning experiences requires a solid command of the content and a deep understanding of how students learn, as well as a calculation of time for planning and preparation.
Technopedagogical design stands as an essential competency in the new era of teaching and, in most cases, it has not yet been adequately addressed for teacher training. Familiarity with the latest applications and devices is not enough. Trained Professors are needed to manage learning experiences that make the best use of the relationship between content, pedagogy and technology.
Hooks' thinking and the Harvard study coincide in the need for a reflective implementation of active methodologies. These must be rooted in a solid understanding of how learning happens, while at the same time being designed to stimulate active and critical student participation. Such methods, if properly implemented, not only promote effective learning, but can also be powerful tools for liberation and social transformation.
Thus, as Hooks suggests, active methodologies play a key role in promoting liberating education. They encourage the critical spirit of students to question the status quo and to take an active role in their own learning. Last but not least, active methods contribute to the development of vital 21st century life skills such as critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
Active methodologies are an effective way of teaching, however their practical implementation is a stimulating challenge as it requires a wide range of skills and a deep understanding of the students' learning process. Teachers, therefore, must be equipped with the necessary tools and skills, both in terms of training and resources. The challenges are undeniable, but the rewards are inestimable: students become agents of change, prepared to transform reality and society.
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