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3 Teaching Lessons from Toyota

29 February 2016

In my first week of handling an IT Project Management class, I asked my students to view a video in which Dr. Tony Wagner discussed some seven skills essential for students to have in order to survive in future marketplace engagements. As the video is about how teaching and learning and education generally, has been approached – teaching to the test – as he calls it, there are several moments of awakening that come to me as a teacher.

Here, I share the first moment that came to me when he mentioned and illustrated the first essential skill – critical thinking. He mentioned how he learned from Toyota that anyone working with the car manufacturer in fact had three jobs;

  1. …to build cars in such a way that you take responsibility for quality.

  2. … to engage in conversations about building higher quality cars with fewer defects.

  3. …to engage in conversations about cars of the future.

These areas he suggested are ways by which the company explicitly expects employees to be engaged in critical thinking. So what do these mean for me as a teacher?

  1. As I am teaching, I bear responsibility to teach in a quality manner so that the students will end the session / course with quality. They should be able to solve problems out there based on what I have taught. Therefore, I undertake rigorous research about my teaching methods and my students to identify needs and areas for improvement, and also provide quality learning experiences and environments to achieve high-order learning outcomes. Further, using self-reflection after every session, I should be able to detect areas that need enhancements, and to set new goals for the next session.
  2. Day in day out I seek direct feedback from learners concerning teaching styles, learning styles, learners’ challenges, learning environment, learning challenges, teaching technology and content and even non-academic issues. I summarise and share the feedback and my reflections and further positive evidence-based action. In order words, I take feedback regularly even before the school administers course evaluations at the end of the semester.
  3. I am always relating today’s content to the future; what we learn today should be useful tomorrow. So for instance, I share the rationale and benefits for undertaking group tasks and learner reflections. Currently in my IT Project Management class, we will use as a way of experiencing the lifecycle of an IT-based project which involve real stakeholders, for they need some practical feel of managing projects.

Share with me in the comments section what you think about these lessons, or any other that come to mind.

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