It has taken hundreds of years for man to uncover all the knowledge he has at his disposal today. The knowledge thus discovered transformed our lives and the face of the planet we live on. In the beginning the stream of knowledge flowed slowly and steadily seeping in every drop for the betterment of mankind till it got divorced from its altruistic goals and the intrinsic values that ensure a healthy and a well bred society. In the hands of self serving individuals and nations it was reduced to a tool of gaining power, exploitation of weaker sections and causing a wedge in the society .
Development is a phenomena that happens when our experience is transformed into learning and learning becomes a tool of bringing about the required change. Things were not as we see them today or what our children see .
It has taken years of toil, perspiration,perseverance and life time of dedication to arrive at the pinnacle where we find ourselves today.
In the beginning the pace of development and knowledge in hand were in perfect balance and harmony existed between the two.
But proliferation of information minus the wisdom to use it for the welfare of mankind created a situation which today threatens the very existence of the planet .
Under these changed circumstances when abundance of information is coming like an assault on the young generation who are in a disarray not knowing how to handle it , the aim of education is no more feeding information but developing wisdom , an insight to filter information , prioritizing the goals and giving life meaning not just rushing through it . This is what I mean by development . It’s not just cognitive aspect but the in cognitive part that include the ability to grasp the abstract and develops intuitive side enabling them to take risk , venture into the unknown , think independently , assert ones point of view and , challenge what they find amiss , question their superiors and stand up against the wrong doings .
The educators have to nudge the conscientious of the students to enable them to grow into thinking beings and not aping monkeys.
In these times of utter commercialism every thing has been reduced to a product entailing a price which becomes the status symbol . We as teachers have a great responsibility to wean our children away from being lured by these false but enticing propositions in every field of life because even after so much depletion of value system in society teachers command a high measure of respect and credibility from the children . So far the experience says ,’ Guru of yesteryears ‘ is still alive in our ecosystem of values . Let’s not get it muted by sheer neglect and dereliction thinking ‘why should I ?’
Education is the most powerful tool of development through change. But we must decide the direction of that change. For which we have to look inward and not outward. As on today we are always looking westward for any change and the result is a big blow.
Unless we understand and map our requirements ingeniously we cannot have a system which would work well . On the name of holistic development we have schools fleecing parents of their hard earned money but without any relevant development.There can’t be any holistic development inside a/ c rooms. You need to observe nature and interpret and connect it to life. For this you need to get out of your cozy classrooms, take a sojourn of real life and then connect to the information fed in the books .
Growth and development are two faces of the same coin .One side tells you the growth and other tells the development.Both need pruning else they would grow in a most unwanted direction marring the whole process.This work of nurturing and pruning is done by the education and educators.
The other day I was meeting a good teacher friend of mine, after almost a year to discuss a few points on our new venture eShikshaChaupal a free online community for teachers which got launched in June this year. During discussion we just digressed a bit and she started off with the same old cliched statement,”Today’s students are different! They don’t know how to behave in school. They are rude and disrespectful. Worst is they love to give back answers to whatever you say to them.” Well that’s where I interrupted her and said, “This is the story of every generation, what’s new in this.”
I remember, in my middle school I had these three teachers who were nearing their retirement but left a deep impact on my formative years. Well! They were different not for what they taught but what left a mark on me was how they taught in the class.Their was something different about their teaching styles… I would love to describe it like the fragrance of Musk deer, which with time going by is having more stronger impact on my thinking. Somewhere they subtly ingrained the values of how to lead a positive life with their teaching styles.
Today when I reflect on what was different about them, I realize that they just followed one principle- they did not accuse us of being impatient and aggressive or being snobbish, but they beautifully took the onus on themselves bcoz we were learning from them. They believed that they were under students constant vigil and so they had to behave themselves… They truly believed that ‘values can’t be taught but had to be caught‘… Their objective was to create an environment where we as students could catch them…
My father had got posted to Delhi in mid session and was adamant that we two sisters went to particular convent school only. So he made us sit at home for more than a month before the Principal of that school allowed us to take admission test. Like all families there’s a black sheep & in our family its me. My younger sister scores were brilliant ,so Principal was super happy to have her in, well for everyone the cause of worry was me… even the Principal was a little skeptical in taking me in, but as luck would have it, I did exceptionally well in Maths (well much beyond my own expectations, I would be honest about that, I suppose that was the last time ever I did so well in any Maths paper thereafter). Probably those numbers in Maths blinded the Principal with umpteen happiness as if she had found a Kohinoor heera and she completely ignored the super low marks in the language papers. She just said with a smile,”I suppose languages can be worked upon in the coming years thus I will admit both the girls in the school.”
One month after admission, came the half yearly exams. I did well in all subjects, well thats what I thought!
Then came Hindi paper results, every one was scared bcoz we were told only few kids had passed in Hindi. I was confident that I had failed, and went slowly over with a grim face to take my Hindi Paper from Mrs Kapoor, while handing over my paper, she slowly uttered, “Thank God, you have at least made some progress in one month, there is some hope from you that you will improve in future. Well you have got one more marks than the last month- 27/100. Next time I hope you will cross the 40 mark”. That walk from her desk to my chair was one of the longest moments in my life… It was a weird feeling.. I was feeling sad, bcoz I had flunked in Hindi again within a month, but then I was feeling hopeful because she had motivated me to work towards improving the future. It was definitely an uphill task for me but with her constant guidance in the classroom she made sure I was able to imbibe the beautiful value of not getting disheartened from my failures but pick up the loose ends of life and move on to reach the goal in the mind…
Well that’s the objective of the teacher, to make the students learn these values of life through academics. If a teacher is able to do that, then student will not rebel but will respect all his life.
Wishing you all a very happy teachers day! 🙂
Keeping in mind users requirements we are starting with a series of post on various pedagogic approaches that are in practice around the world.For example: Concept mapping, Mind mapping, Value based learning, Inquiry Based Learning to name a few. The post will be released every Friday in the Chaupal Buzz and we look forward to your participation and feedback on the same.
Structure of the post will be loosely based around:
a) What is the concept all about?
b) Why do we need to follow it in everyday classroom teaching?
c) How can we use it in our lesson planning or teaching methodology to improve the classroom experience of the student?
d) Some exercises or puzzles to solve around the same.
Since its not easy to answer these questions in one post therefore, we intend to focus on one topic a month.We look forward to your active participation and responses. You can type your comments in Hindi and English in the community.
It might not be possible for you to login everyday and the post might get lost in deluge of other posts being posted by users therefore request you to mark the post as ‘favorite’ for your future read and be able to keep a track of the same.
We encourage you too contribute on your ideas about various pedagogic approaches you have been using and their benefits. While posting on this topic please use the #PedagogicApproaches, as a new feature will be enabled very soon where the # posts with maximum activities will be showing the most on the side bar.
Look forward to an interesting journey aboard eShikshaChaupal with all of you!
With Best Wishes
All the knowledge that we see around us originally came from within.The question arises, If real knowledge comes from within what kind of knowledge is imparted in schools ? Well it is acquired knowledge.
If you just acquire something and are not able to use it then it turns into junk. The schools today have become the storehouses of knowledge and teachers the dispensers of it. And students, the unwilling receivers who don’t know what to do with it . Experience is the first step in the journey of education . One would say how can you make them experience all that is entailed in the textbooks.
Experience is the key to learning. It is being done at two levels.
One the prior knowledge which is the result of child’s old experiences and learning. Second the new knowledge about to be unfolded through a series of experiments conducted in class by the teacher and experiences undergone by the students so as to make learning a natural process rather simply transmit it in the form of words,meaning, phrases, statements which the child is unable to comprehend in the absence of a real life connection to it. First hand real life experience can unfold and open many windows simultaneously integrating the knowledge and making it an enduring experience .
Let’s take an example : – if you are teaching a child about’ energy ‘ – the topic should be exposed beginning with a general view and understanding of it by a common man or a layman we can say before coming to the definition.These can be such as, energy is required to make things move. To move this chair I use some energy. The fan above our head is running on electric energy. A car needs fuel to get energy. We need food to get energy. This will bring out that there are different sources of energy which the students are aware of.
This knowledge should be used to bring about the new knowledge which is definition of energy , how is energy measured , nature of energy , different types of energy and other details . This will help ignite the imagination of students about energy and they will get interested in understanding the topic in detail . Thus experience acts as a glue to connect the the new knowledge and make it more holistic and enduring .
Let’s take an example of Math . Mathematics is an abstract subject where symbols and signs are used to denote a concept . If the children are taught these concepts straight with numbers and their operations they will be intimidated by the subject and develop a phobia because they are not able to comprehend anything about these numbers which are just incomprehensible scribbling for them . So the best thing is to begin with language first which the child has acquired naturally . The concept of number should be preceded by counting of objects with hands on experience till they can associate the symbol with the objects . Similarly other operations should be first executed via an activity trying to bring out the concept behind them . The important part of the activity is ,it should be brought to its logical conclusion that is relating it to the concept else the whole activity will get lost as any other action taking place in life . This experience takes place in two ways . One as it happens in day to day life and second how this experience can be captured in the form of words , sentences and symbols through practice .
Same goes with other subjects like environmental Studies. When we use words , phrases and sentences to bring out the concept before the actual experience it makes it complicated and incomprehensible to the child but the same thing when goes through an experience than those words , phrases and sentences assume a body and become comprehensible . For example – while teaching about plants first thing to do is to take them to a garden or a place with different type of vegetation and observe . Just taking them to the garden is not enough . Important thing is to drive home the point you want them to know . For this you have to transfer their experience into words , phrases and sentences best understood by them .
If these simple steps are followed in a structured manner the child will be able make sense of the whole process and then understand the same as explained in words . So experience is the key to learning .
Now that “why” and “what” are pondered on and concluded, the work begins. (this is in continuation to my previous post on https://www.eshikshachaupal.com/how-to-go-about-…ing-in-classroom/)
If some children do not come up with a clear idea of what they want to write about or how, allow them to try out various ideas and different forms like prose or poetry. You can give them situations or topics to help them get started.
The exercise below is one of my favorites that get the creative juices flowing.
Exercise 2: Select an object from the surroundings with some details like a vase or a painting or a picture. Ask the students to look at it for a while and write whatever that object evokes in them. Encourage them to widen the horizons of their imaginations as far as they can take.
As you take the students on the journey of creative writing, keep reminding them to trust themselves and yet not expect to write brilliantly right away. A great way to get better, as I mentioned before, is to learn from other writers while keeping one’s originality.
Although writing is primarily a solitary exercise, classroom offers an advantage in terms of peer learning and brainstorming. The following exercise can help make it interesting.
Exercise 3: Assign a familiar story or a new one to the class to read at home. Ask them to come up with what they liked about it and what they didn’t. If it were up to them, how would they want that story to run its course? Let them present their case and discuss in class.
To be a writer, the student needs to be encouraged to read differently than an average reader. The reading has to be slower and more attentive to nuances of writing. It is advisable to reread for better results. The first reading is faster as the reader is eager to get to the end and see how everything worked out eventually. Already knowing what happened helps the reader see how the writer prepared for the end. It helps the student learn how a narrative works.
Ask the students to think about the effect the words they read had on them.
Continuing the process, here is another exercise that does well for lowering students’ inhibitions. It’s easy, it’s personal and let there be no rules.
Exercise 4: Write something in first person. It can be a memory, it can be an experience, it can be a fantasy, it can be a dream. It can be in past tense, it can be in present tense, it can be in future tense. It can be a story, it can be a poem, it can be an essay, it can be a novel, if the kid can swing it! Let it flow.
After the students have written something to show, there comes the delicate part. How to critique. Please keep in mind that we haven’t yet gone into the techniques and nitty-gritties of writing like nuances of grammar, we are just looking at ideas, flow and manner of writing at this point.
Now, “this is okay… but you could have done better” or “this isn’t good enough” is not going to lift any student’s spirit up. We say those things with best of intentions, but please refrain from such downers. Of course, anyone can do better. Creative writing, in my opinion, can’t be and shouldn’t be competitive. We do have to work with a system of grading but grading a creative piece is tricky. Not every piece of writing is genius, but judging creative work effectively, especially something innovative and new, isn’t easy. The first thing I go for is – look for heart… and soul in the work. Now this maybe too much to ask from a 6th grader, let’s say. Hear me out, though. It’s not looking for some earth-shattering or soul-stirring composition, yet it is easy to figure out whether the piece was written distractedly in a scattered, haywire way or pointedly in a focused way.
This distinction is more important than ever because students today need something grounding like focused writing, straight from the heart, to combat ill-effects modern gadgets have on their attention spans, among other things. Creative writing can be a very effective tool to get kids get in touch with their thinking, emotions and their own selves, taking them away from the virtual reality they mostly live in.
You may ask them to peer-review but never without a set of guidelines, so the students do not go overboard with their criticism. Ask the students to self-critique as well, with the help of guidelines.
Another exercise to help students get going with their imaginations is given below.
Exercise 5: Ask What if? Either the teacher/facilitator can give a situation and ask what if that situation happens/happened, or she can ask the students to come up with their own “what if”s. I prefer latter. Who said sky is the limit?
What if sky is not the limit?
Remember (and let them know), there is no one right answer, when it comes to creative writing.
Having taught for more than thirty years, at sixty one it’s time to reflect and ponder over the makeover that took place during these long, sometimes boring, at times suffocating because of a redundant system but always exciting in class where each day you faced a new challenge.
The challenge didn’t come from outside but from within, when you faced blank faces after teaching with all the knowledge at your disposal, all the skill at your command and all the resources available to you, then came the knocking from within.
There were those sudden eruptions of insight which came as a flicker of light and developed into a beam with a passionate search for effective methodology, teaching aids, lesson planning, class management and search through Internet . All these things left some mark somewhere helping me to evolve as a contented teacher who was always willing to go a step ahead to make it better. The more you try, more you see, never reaching the end, this is the beauty of this profession. You are always a seeker, trying to find new ways, new insights while treading the path set by the people who never dare to tread it themselves .
The Edifice of Education is an effort to define education as understood and practiced by me .
E – Experience
C- Communication & Creativity
T- Transfer of knowledge to situation
N- Nobility of character
Education is a natural and ever evolving process which when imposed and induced artificially not only loses its fundamentals but results in a society devoid of the intrinsic values that define and characterize education . In my coming writings I will take up each characteristic and go in detail of its constitution, development and execution as understood and delivered by me.