Changing Schools into Learning Communities in Pakistan

(Mehr Parwar, Rawalpindi)

Learning community strives to develop collaborative work cultures for teachers. The concept of School as Learning Community endeavors to encourage teachers, Principals, parents and organizations’ collaborative efforts to support children’s learning at schools. Schools practicing such efforts begin to shift the organization and structure of their professional development activities toward integrating teacher learning into communities of practice.

The goal of school as a learning community is to accomplish educational needs of all students by putting efforts collaboratively and by examining their day-to-day practices at school. First and foremost essential characteristics of school as a learning community with regards as shared values and norms to learn collectively, reflect on children and children’s ability to learn in daily experiences, need and school priorities for school improvement and role played by parents, teachers and administrators. Secondly it focuses on inclusion in learning practices; involve all students, attention, time and learning opportunities and resources equally not only ensuring teaching but the students learning. The third characteristic is reflective dialogue that leads to extensive and continuing conversations, open discussion and training among teachers about curriculum, instruction, and effective assessment practices and learning outcomes of individual students.

In most of Pakistani schools, teachers do not see each other teach, they do hesitate to talk about their teaching and students learning practices. In almost all public schools of Pakistan balkanization and lack of collaboration among teachers exists at higher level which ultimately affects performance of teachers in school. In the end it results poor performance in classroom teaching, negative competition, favoritism and lack of sharing culture at almost all levels from Principals to teachers and administrative staff. Therefore, it is difficult for educators to even imagine the far-reaching possibilities of collaboration.

The need to develop Schools as a learning community is crucial to bring desirable results in education. First and foremost emerging issue in education system in Pakistan is teachers attitude and it can be changed only through building a strong collaborative learning and team teaching culture in schools, as; where students are actively demonstrating their understanding, rather than students passing written tests by memorizing and rote learning, where teachers encourage cooperative teaching; where there is continuous interaction of parents and teachers to talk on their children learning outcomes and where all children happily engaged in demonstrating their learning in a safe and conducive environment. It is also important that children in a school as a learning community not only learn facts, but also develop ideas on facts and positive attitudes for learning. Teacher spend their tea time mostly on talking about creative thinking and problem-solving skills, multiple intelligences, learning styles and effective pedagogy. Implementation of such dialogues can be reflected in teachers’ attitude, teaching practices and interactions. Students are actively engaged in learning in a variety of groups and contexts, and learning is understood, applied and internalized. Collaboration and learning happen within the context of community through appreciating and celebrating diversity. In addition, the school reflects the population and background of the larger community; the, existence of collaborative learning communities help students attitudes, knowledge and skills that benefit all in the community and at the end community members become partners in facilitating and expanding the learning process together.

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