The Edifice of Education

The Edifice of Education

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
U- Understanding
C- Communication & Creativity
A- Application
T- Transfer of knowledge to situation
I- Internalization
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.

How to go about Creative Writing in classroom?

How to go about Creative Writing in classroom?

Writing is one of the craziest things to do — it’s hard, and often what gets written surprises the writer. ~ Richard P. Gabriel

I do like the quote above and creative writing is hard in a sense, yet it is surprisingly simple at the same time. It sure is crazy! Creative Writing covers everything that can be written using imagination and some flair – fiction, poetry, prose and anything in between. It is important that the seeds of creative writing are sowed while the soil is tender, that is, in the student phase of a child.

Let’s dive into the art of creative writing.

Before doing that, let’s answer the question – can anyone write? Well, anyone who has a fair knowledge of language and grammar and can put together a comprehensible sentence can write but to be able to express oneself beautifully and capture the readers takes practice and hard work, among other things.

I believe there is at least one story or one poem or one book in everyone.

The first thing to remember is that writing is a skill and as is the case with every skill, one has to keep honing it. The best way to do that is to encourage the children to read a lot, especially the kind of work they’d like to write.

In the first of the series on Creative Writing, I would like you to address a question at the very core of it. It may sound a little absurd but do ask the children – why they want to write. Let them ponder over it. Let them come up with any answers. Ask them to be as honest as they can. Ask them to write and share their answers. You can never be surprised enough with children!

There is a whole lot of difference between writing for self and writing for others, let’s be clear on that. It is always gratifying if others appreciate one’s work but true creativity cannot emerge if the writer keeps thinking what the reader would like.

So creative writing, in essence, is writing from the self and for the self.

Fact: J. R. R. Tolkien spent years writing a history of an imaginary country, inventing languages and mythology and timelines and maps, purely for himself.

It is understandable that we cannot afford the luxury of that kind of timespan in a limited term of a class, but you get the point, right?

Creative writing starts with the writer – with their imagination, personality and interests.

Exercise 1 for the students:

Dig deep into yourself and your imagination and find what you really want to write about.

Why I feel smart classes are not that smart?

Why I feel smart classes are not that smart?

Smart classes are a norm now and there is nothing left to boast about them either. They came in the early years of the last decade and are still making inroads into the 1.5 million schools operating in India.

I am glad, I was out of school by then when they struck, as I am not in favor of them invading the blackboards.  Reason being simple.

Why are they called smart classes in the first place- just because they are run on computer and have every content on digital media… So how does it make them smart.. Aren’t they the new version  of idiot box , this time installed in classroom.

They completely kill the objective of teaching the kid… b’coz its one side interaction… earlier it as just the teacher yapping away all the information she had, now its the so called smart board that does the yapping of the content…. 

They are worse than the teachers b’coz here the content which is playing does your part of thinking too by placing the questions and then giving the answers… 

  1. If the video which is playing for three to five mins explains the concept then why does the teacher need 40 mins for the class…
  2.   Secondly, if video ends up asking all the questions which the teacher is supposed to ask during that 40 mins class then why is she needed in the class itself…
  3. Lastly, the answers which are to be given by the students to the questions that are asked by the teacher or in the video, have to be given by the video or the content in the smart class then,

 I think then we can completely abolish schools and just keep the exams for the children to come and clear the various levels of learning… 

 I think then we can completely abolish schools and just keep the exams for the children to come and clear the various levels of learning…(well that too can happen.. and I suppose will eventually happen, with the augment of technology in every sphere of our lives, will write about this idea in another blog ) but until it happens, we need to find a way where we can use smart classes and teachers in a symbiotic role… smart classes should not make us dumb but help the student understand the concept with the visual aid available to them.

  • A smart content should provoke questions in the mind of the student and not blurt out information directly. 
  • It should be an aid to the teacher and not make the teacher student classroom interaction redundant. 

If we do not resolve the problem highlighted then I suppose our goal of developing Higher Order Thinking Skills or following any modern pedagogic method which talks about developing HOTS will fail miserably in achieving its goal.


Originally posted in by Surekha Waldia

Mustering Ways to Enhance Effectiveness of A School Project

Mustering Ways to Enhance Effectiveness of A School Project

Summer Break is a time which all children and parents await. The vacation should be packed with fun, frolic and learning coming along. Parents can churn out the best productive or quality time with children by helping them out with their summer projects. Projects comes as big ‘uff’ for parents, the reason being they find it an onerous job to accomplish till the time it is explained to them by the teacher as to how to undertake these projects so that their children are the benefited. The parents can very well harness a rapport and bond with their child while doing the projects together.

Execution of the projects with the child demands theoretical and practical implications which a parent and no one else can give the best to the child.

But if parents are not convinced enough that the projects have a bigger role and impact on the child if taken genuinely, the purpose of such projects given is killed at the very spot before inception. Such projects are equivalent to any other assignments which they take as routine and burden to do. Here comes the role of the teachers to change the perspective of parents towards such projects and that can be done when they are underling the very objective of these projects and backing them with a navigation map for the same. Now, with inputs and brainstorming sessions taken up by the teachers before, the handover of assignments will bring better learning outcome or cognition for children.

Let’s discuss how to go about while taking up a project on ‘making a first aid box.’ First aid box is to aid the trivial accidents which occur in one’s day to day life. Role of teaching is to brush up with the kids and come out with their insights as to why do we need a first aid box and what does it contain and how is it of great importance to be kept at a handy place. What is the underlying concept of having a first aid box at home is discussed extensively in class. These questions raised and answered will make the first aid box in “ abstract” and children will get back to their parents with clear minds as to , why, what and how they need to make a first aid box. Complete dossier is provided for all the articles and usage for the first aid box is just to serve better.

Parents work has been lightened as their and children’s interest in those projects has been kindled. Now they just have to together implement and execute on the guidelines given by the teacher. “Prelude” that has to be taken care of by the teacher shall be, to discuss the ‘ why’ exhaustively and dynamically that the real objective is achieved and the learning outcome is on the achieved

Why teaching today needs to embrace technology

Why teaching today needs to embrace technology

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

–John Dewey

Growing up I was that kid who always sat in the front row of the class, homework complete and hand raised to every question (almost). I was that kid who spent the summer vacations going through all the problems in maths text books, reading thorough the all chapters in the literature books, and ready and raring to go the first day back at school. So needless to say sometimes the actual in-class interaction with the teachers and the assignments seemed a bit mundane.

It was also the late 1990s and the internet was not yet widely available to everyone, so the only way to get more out of one’s education was to read more books than that prescribed by the official syllabus. But even then, those that were privileged enough to have access to the internet (even if it was through a painfully slow dial up) were beginning to have an advantage and an upper hand – in the knowledge they could access, the awareness they became perceptive to and the world they could reach.

The world today in contrast is very different. Technological advances in the 2 decades since then have led to 100-times growth in the use of internet. Content is now available online in all forms imaginable – text, pictures, sound, audio and any combination of these. And what started as a research medium for the most elite universities and government sectors, is now the natural medium of teaching from elementary schools to doctorates.

Technology has made it possible to conquer all physical barriers by creating virtual access paths. However, as Bill Gates said – “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”

It therefore becomes not just important but imperative that teachers today make use of the vast resources and teaching tools that are available to them online. Teaching today is as much about learning yourself as it is about imparting knowledge to one’s students. Online learning platforms such as Khan Academy and Udemy have proven the effectiveness of technology in reaching young and old minds alike.

Technology has allowed us to tap into resources that are far beyond our physical reach and become aware of teachings that are diverse and innovative. The growth of social networking has put the capability to share ideas and information at the tip of our fingers. A teacher who is willing to embrace this tool and harness it’s power, will be doing the great service of providing students with the guidance of an entire community of teachers, instead of just the one they see in front of them. And when you are greeted with a new person in your interaction with your teacher each day, a student like me will never find the exchanges mundane ever again.


Why Do Educationist Need an Exclusive Online Community?

Why Do Educationist Need an Exclusive Online Community?

In today’s highly connected world, we owe a lot to digitization for all the benefits that come with it.

Our children probably wouldn’t know of this but the generation of today’;s parents can really appreciate the difference it has made in our lives. For we are the ones who have also seen the world go around even with the ease of having everything on our fingertips. We have studied through the times when research meant combing through huge volumes in a library. Now that the world is enjoying the sophistication and convenience of the internet, something seems still lacking. And that is the fact the enablers of education aren’t as much connected online as they should have been. Yes, I am talking of the teachers in India. Teachers are the backbone of education field and yet they haven’t caught up with the changing times. There are many reasons that attribute for this fact. The biggest one is lack of a proper platform customized for teachers’ requirements. It’s a pity that there are lacs of teachers all across the country struggling with similar problems and coming up with their own solutions and aren’t really able to leverage through one another experience. It’s like re-inventing the wheel over and over and over again!

If teachers could be connected via an exclusive online community for educationists, a lot of time and energy would be saved, not to mention the bonus of learning new things or new ways of doing things every day. This is even more desired for a country like India that is unique in terms of its diversity. For example, connecting rural India with Urban one can usher in a new era in education.

Education is an ongoing process. At no point it should stagnate into age old ways, especially in the current technologically evolving time and age. Imagine a scenario where teachers from everywhere can learn from each other, share their knowledge and also their concerns. It would be like enabling the enablers – a huge requirement of the time. Though there are resources available online, they are sporadic and scattered. Nowhere can a teacher, after her grueling schedule, look for a one stop shop for her requirements. There is no interaction happening on the net. And there is definitely nothing that tempts teachers to be connected and hence most of the teachers are least active on the net. It’s like missing out on a huge opportunity and working in silos whereas a whole wide world of collaboration is open out there. Like it or not, education today is more difficult and evolving than it
was in the previous generations. The teachers don’t have to walk their paths alone and grapple with their daily predicaments individually. They just need to walk together. Virtually.

Now is the time to wake up and smell the digital roses!