It is often said teachers are the single most important factor to improving education. We firmly believe this is true. That’s why we work with teachers to equip them with the skills to help them teach computing in their classrooms. We have trained scores of teachers to enable them to incorporate computer programming into their curriculum.

Lack of teachers and maths education

It has been widely reported recently there is a lack of qualified teachers in South Africa and a shortage in the number of schools which offer maths to learners. The shortage of teachers is only going to continue unless learners leave school having studied maths, science, information technology and computer application technology.

In response, the Department of Basic Education has recently announced a new focus on improving maths, science and technology education, saying it is unacceptable that schools do not offer maths to learners. It has underscored the importance of strengthening the quality and participation of maths education in all schools across the country.

This is positive news for teachers and learners alike. But it is going to take time for these initiatives to be felt in the classroom. We need to become creative about how we approach teaching and learning.

Creative teaching and learning

We love the story of Canadian Shelley Wright, a high school learning consultant, and her class who worked together to raise thousands of dollars for charity. Wright says she always taught her classes traditionally, with her talking toward rows of desks, as she had been taught that way. “To be honest, it didn’t occur to me there could be another way to do it. I replicated what I saw in the class of the teachers I worked with when I was learning to be a teacher.” In a pedagogy class, Wright learned about student centred learning. ”For the first time I began to realise maybe my students could construct their learning. That learning is constructed in community and maybe they could be the centre; maybe they would have something to say about it.” Her experience shows when learners become involved in their education and teach their classmates, they also learn. Sharing knowledge among learners could result in greater learning while also assisting teachers.

Effective leadership

Another inspiring teacher we love is Pierre Pirard, who works as a principal in a disadvantaged school in Brussels. He had a successful career in business for 25 years before making the switch to education. Pirard highlights the five principles of highly effective teachers, the same principles successful leaders in business use. They involve believing in the success of the school, setting goals and working to ensure those goals are the daily priority of the school.