By Sarah Hussain
Teaching in the UK requires practitioners to engage with students from various backgrounds. If students have travelled from a different country, this requires tutors to consider student’s previous educational experience in order to fully engage with them. It is essential for practitioners to value student’s previous methods of learning, rather than assume that teaching styles in the UK are the most productive way of learning. Whilst some students enjoy experiencing new delivery styles, tutors need to examine progress to ensure their approach is student centred and not just what they assume a successful session entails. It is important to question our assumptions about what we have been taught is the best method of teaching.
Some students have been used to a certain method of learning; which may include a more disciplined approach and they may seem less motivated to learn due to a lack of structure compared with what they may have previously experienced, for example. This can lead them to experience ‘culture shock’ when they initially begin their studies. Although it is important that they are encouraged to embrace life in the UK, tutors must consider how their students previously learnt and try to incorporate some of these techniques into their sessions to promote a comfortable learning environment.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a useful theory to consider when approaching ways to motivate learners. It ‘is a motivational theory in psychology compromising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchal levels within a pyramid’ (McLeod 2018) Tutors must consider the Basic and Psychological needs of pupils in order for them to reach their full potential and this can only happen if students feel valued.
Furthermore, it is every tutors’ responsibility to question their ‘unconscious bias’ regarding the various cultural backgrounds. An expectation for students to change their ideology or to make judgments about their previous learning experiences establishes ‘unconscious biases’. Students come from various backgrounds, which are rich and diverse in culture and this must be acknowledged. In fact, tutors can engage with other practitioners from other countries in order to learn from them to encourage a positive transnational educational experience.
The UK is becoming more diverse, which means the classroom environment is continuously changing. How much are practitioners embracing this change? Are lessons being planned to meet the needs of every individual learner in the classroom? Trying to incorporate equality and diversity in the lesson just to tick boxes is not engaging with students. Tutors need to do more to help students feel valued and this can only happen if diversity is embraced in a way that is not superficial.