Although interpersonal communication is an essential soft skill, it is a common misconception that we do not need to enhance it since it is an aptitude we develop through our everyday life. That is why many would argue that there is not much to improve teaching methods when it comes to communication. However, progressive approaches to learning and theories such as the Growth Mindset highlight the need for change in how teacher-student communication occurs. Let us understand this point of view through the example of questions asked in the classroom.
What are the most conventional role students have in the process of learning at school? Their role is likely limited to responding to the teacher’s questions rather than asking new questions. What is even more troubling is that most questions are related to the knowledge the teacher is trying to transmit. In other words, students do not often have the opportunity in a traditional classroom to answer questions based on their own ideas, thus limiting the chances for research and creative thinking. Therefore, the problem lies in the lack of variety concerning the type of questions and the answers expected
For example, wouldn’t it be more interesting for the students to begin learning about a topic by being asked:
- “How do you think this works?”
- “Can you explain it to the rest of us?”
- “Has any of you perhaps already heard something about it?”
This type of question can draw the attention of students and motivate them to contribute by mentioning what they already know while participating in a lesson where discussion plays a major role. By introducing these small changes, we can totally transform students’ role in the learning process from passively listening and answering to actually determining the evolution of the course or project. This change can benefit students from an early age by showing them that teachers value their own thoughts and do not neglect what they have already learned outside the school.
As you understand, the key element in making the teacher-student communication more effective and meaningful is to use the very information the students are giving us to adjust teaching to their needs and enrich communication in the classroom. Consequently, it is time for us to listen to children actively and then guide them by developing the same soft skills.
That is why we can benefit from projects such as the “Entrepreneurship for kids” to enhance the soft skill of communication and assure that the next generation is going to be able to clearly speak their mind and actively listen to others in all aspects of life, from their everyday obligations to their professional environment.
by Elli Korre, Content Creator Intern @ Growth Mindset