Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is a priority: Nation or religion

The purpose of education is to enable an individual to live life with a mission to enjoy the same and let others do the same in the best possible manner. Education should help an individual to know the world in a better way than narrowing the thinking and approach. The other important lesson which should be learnt through education is the love for the nation and the living beings. The world is advancing at a fast pace and the individuals are finding it difficult to cope with the same. In this situation, proper education only can help the people to become self reliant and a source of positive energy for the country. The curriculum of the school and the college education must include the teaching of various philosophies like service before self. The other important aspect is the confidence and the belief in one`s ability and the potential of doing better for humanity.
 Education should have a long term goal and the smaller problems of the day to day life should not be an element of hindrance or obstacle for the policy makers. An individual cannot grow without the growth of the nation and to achieve that a uniformity should be maintained. No country can be proud of its GDP without making sure that all citizens are getting their due and also contributing significantly for the growth of the nation.  What I am trying to put across is that all members of the community should have a respectable and evident share in the growth of the nation. Religion may be of great importance to many people and it may not be of any significance for some but it does not mean that we cannot exist in harmony and brotherhood. There are so many things which are common in all human beings and let us try to be happy with that in spite of having differences based on religion or the caste. Our country has been suffering because of misuse of  religion and the caste. The caste system is so deep rooted that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the people to control it or get it eroded from the society. There are many problems which are the direct result of the castism in the society and this takes a bad shape when the caste and the region or the religion becomes the identity for the individuals. I would like mention one example here. As per the news report a youth was mishandled by a government official without his mistake. The issue was raised in media and rightly so, but the most disturbing fact was the highlight that he belonged to a particular caste. What I think is that the humiliation of any human being is to be condemned irrespective of the caste or religion one belongs to. Our father of the nation always talked and worked for the nation by advocating equal rights and opportunities for all the people. He did not want that caste should be hurdle in the opportunities for the individual to grow and live healthy life.  You all would remember the issue raised in the parliament of the country and which was debated upon. It was decided to remove one particular cartoon from the books published by the premier educational body of the country which decides the direction of the education in the country.  Again the issue should have been discussed whether this is right to have such cartoon or not but then some people tried to play the caste card here also. Let the nation debate, whether to continue to put caste and religion ahead of the country is or not.  The education system should be such that even if we continue to identify an individual with a particular caste it should not dilute our respect and the duty towards our nation. The nation always be esteemed and the rest of the things and the factors should be secondary. When we go out of our country, we are called as Indians and not as Hindu, Muslim or Brahmins and schedule caste etc. Let our education be such that it teaches us to be inclusive in our approach than being exclusive. We all know it very well that integration joins and the differentiation breaks the things into pieces. Education should help us to develop ourselves to grow as individuals as well as a society. Education should not aim at producing just the earning machines but learning human beings. This is possible when all concerned work together keeping in mind the big picture of the growth of the country than individuals only.
Recently, I was out in a country which is considered to be a super power and tried to understand what made that country to have that elite a status in the world. The most important thing was the respect for nation and the people who sacrificed for the cause of the country. The second was the commitment towards the duty assigned to the citizens of the country. The feeling of ` we ` was always over and above `I`. In other words, we can say the national character and the work culture are the most important factors which made this country what it is today. Even in that country the father of our nation is given a lot of respect and they have the statue of Gandhiji at a very prominent place.  When our guide was telling us about the place, he very proudly mentioned about Gandhiji and took us near hie statue. There I had feeling, if we can get rid of the caste system and identify ourselves as Indians only. The best way to do that may be to suffix our first name by a common surname and why not we identify ourselves as the descendent of Gandhiji and call ourselves as Ram Gandhi, Gopal Gandhi, Akhtar Gandhi, Alex Gandhi or Harpreet Gandhi. These are my views without any bias towards anybody as individual or as groups.  This may appear to be ideal situation but can we think of harbouring a change? Looking forward for your most valuable feedback and response.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Learner centric approach

A great awakening has been created in the last few years as far as education in the schools and the colleges is concerned. There is a paradigm shift in the pedagogical approach towards teaching learning process especially in the schools across the world and our country has also been through the same. The focus is changing from teacher centric approach to learner centric approach which has helped in empowering the learner. The approach for multiple intelligence and  helping the children excel in the field in which they have an interest and aptitude, is the hallmark of the new approach. The role of a teacher has been redefined to be not just a facilitator but also a helmsman in and outside the class steering them in the right direction. Some people feel that the role of a teacher has been reduced but it is not so. The role of the teachers remain as important as it was before. The important thing all should understand is that the children of the day have more knowledge and exposure and the teachers will have to cope up with the same so that they do not cut a sorry figure in front of the children.
Today I would like to focus on what approach a teacher should adopt in the teaching learning process. Earlier when the teaching was synonymous to the authority of the teacher, then the teachers could have their way through but now when all the children and even the parents and the community is very much aware of the changes taking place, then the teachers will have to make amendments to refine and redefine their approach. They will have to understand that every child in the class is equally important and should be able to have achieve a minimum level of learning .  The teachers must know all the children of their class and act according the need of the individual children. Some people might say, how is it possible in a class of more than forty or more children. They may be right but think about the individual child. This number in the class is not because of his mistake and he/she cannot do anything to control the class strength. But at the same time, he/she has a right to be exposed to the best of the learning opportunity. Even if there are some limitations, the teachers can still make a difference with some change and improvement in their class. First of all, they should have the lesson plan made prior to their going to the class, with absolute clarity regarding their aims and objectives. Once they know about the aims and objective then they should plan the way of transaction of the content in the class involving all the learners. The assessment and the evaluation are as important as the aims and the objectives. The teachers must adopt differentiation approach while teaching and also while assessing the children, the assessment should be as objective as possible and the teacher should be able to quantify the same. The aims and objectives of the teacher in the class can be more than one depending upon the strength and aptitude of the class.  If the objectives of the lesson are clear to the teacher and the learner then the approach to achieve them will become easy. In the process of learning, the activities should be designed in a manner that these keep all the children  involved in the process of learning. Somebody rightly mentioned that in the CCE pattern of education this is required  more than ever before and all the teachers should follow this to ensure that all the children obtain maximum learning. The lesson plan should be so clear and specific that even if the teacher is absent on some day, the other teacher will be able to follow the same and the learners will be able to learn. This is important because in most of the cases the arrangement period is almost a waste if a teacher is absent on a day. Time is precious in the school or elsewhere. The other thing which is very important for a teacher is to create a learning environment in the class. It is the foremost responsibility and the duty of the teacher to create such environment that all the children are involved in learning and nobody has any inclination towards disturbing the class. The teacher cannot blame the learner for not learning or letting others learn. The children will learn if the things are  done the way they feel comfortable. The role of the teacher is to create opportunities for learning of the learner to take place. For this, understanding, patience, tolerance and clarity of the fact of their being in the class are a few very important factors. If the class is not managed well and the children are not made aware of the objectives of the lesson, then they would not be learning anything and the whole exercise will become a stress for all. Another thing which should be taken care of is the modulation of the voice and the change in the way the teacher acts in the class. The voice modulation and the change in the activities will make children anxiously wait for their teachers to the class. They would always be curious to learn more because of the interest created by the teacher by using different methods and activities.  Those teachers who have been following the traditional method of teaching ( in which the learning is really effective)  may find it difficult initially but if the same is followed sincerely then they will themselves find it good and enjoy this exchange. For this they will have to spend more time beforehand and subsequently this will become as an important part of their teaching learning process. I would like to summarize the learner centric approach for the benefit of all educators.
1.          Have clear aims and measurable objectives.
2.        Expose and check the previous knowledge of the learners to ensure that they get involved in what you are      going to do today.
3.        Plan the process in a way that all learners are able to follow.
4.     Plan the activities which are easy to follow for all but there may be a few high order thinking skill based learning also so that the interest of all the learners remain high.
5.        Do not use lecture method for a long time in the class even if these are higher classes.
6.        Assessment activity should be as close to learning as possible.
7.    Learning and assessment must be planned in such a manner that the learner does not know about the assessment.
8.        Give maximum opportunity to the learner to find the answer.
9.        Peer group learning and assessment may prove to be very handy at times.
1.         Summarize the lesson at the end in an effective manner.
1.         Evaluate the lesson by involving the feedback of the learner.
1.         Leave the class at a note that all learners remain excited to attend the next class.

These are a few steps and strategies which can be employed by the teachers to make the learning,
learner centric. At the same time, I would like to add that the teacher is the one who can change and amend the lesson plan as per the needs of the learner. There can be no single way of making learning more effective but the only way of doing the same is open approach of the teacher which he/she finds good for the learners of their class.Adopt and adapt to the inevitable and ever changing times of today and you will emerge as an efficient teacher.   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Justified and judicious use of rights for development

Our country is going through many reforms, be it the economic, social or education sector. It has been discussed earlier also and the debate is still going on as far as the educational reforms are concerned. The introduction of CCE by the Central Board of Secondary Education and the introduction of RTE by the central government are two important and major steps taken by the government. Government is making efforts on its part to make all stake holders aware of the advantage to the larger section of the society. Let us first focus on the issue which has been taken up by CBSE schools only. CCE has a holistic approach for the development of the child`s personality. Proper implementation of the same can bring out the best in a child. But there are a few problems which are faced by the people whether they are the teachers, students or the parents. The first is that not all people are aware of the real meaning and the process of the newly introduced evaluation system. This is because it was introduced at a fast pace without giving proper time to all the stake holders to understand it well. Though there have been efforts in that direction but the reality is that even after being in existence, there are many parents who do not know about the same. The second issue is the lack of  resources in many schools. When I write resources, it is both human resource and the material resource in the form of infrastructure. We know that CCE gives a lot of importance on record keeping. The activity and the project or anything else used for the evaluation would have to be produced for the sake of transparency. The parents have even asked for the record of the oral test taken by the teacher in the beginning of the session. Though it is good for the children but the challenge is the strength of the students in the class. This would be very good and comparatively easy for the teachers if the number of students in the class are limited (ideal number would be twenty to twenty five and not more than that). The third important requirement is of the textual material and the support material for the children and the teachers because the books available in the market are not exhaustive enough to make a perfect learning. The teachers and the children do need some proper material to comprehend the system well. These things should be taken care of on priority. Otherwise people have a feeling that CCE has made children and the teachers little indifferent towards proper learning.
The other reform has been a boon for all the children who were deprived of education because of the social or economic reason. Now all children from the age of six years to fourteen years have a right to free and compulsory education. By the year 2013 all schools including the government schools, will have to create minimum facilities and the infrastructure so that the aims and the objectives of the act could be realized in the real sense. The act has provisions to streamline the school education and make it more student friendly. The act advocates the involvement of the parents by giving them the responsibility in the school management committees. The qualification of the teachers has been specifically defined and they will have to adhere to it  by the year 2015.But what has been observed in the last two years is that maximum focus has been on the admission of the weaker group children in private schools. Even the officials are also very keen and excited for the same and their enthusiasm makes us feel happy. But the same kind of enthusiasm and excitement is not there when it comes to thinking about the government schools. The real objectives of the act cannot be achieved unless the whole act is taken as a unit. The act does not advocate about the right to free and compulsory education of the children from weaker section but for all the children irrespective of the family or social background. I have been wondering and sharing the same with everyone that it is good that twenty five percent children from disadvantaged group are given the opportunity to study with other group of the children and it would really be beneficial for both in the long run despite there being few problems of adjustment initially. But my worry is that a school cannot admit more than a particular number in the class so these twenty five percent children would be accommodated at the cost of other twenty five percent. Now where will these children ( who are deprived of admission) go? It has happened as if you have taken the share of one child and given to the other one. When all children have the right to free education then why the children from so called sound family background be deprived of good education. The government would do the justice to all children by increasing the number of good schools and also improving the quality of existing schools. The teachers of the government schools will have to be left free of any other job but teaching in the schools. Proper scientific and objective monitoring of the schools should be undertaken and that should not be left to the desire and wishes of individuals made responsible for seeing the proper implementation of the act. I think it would be good idea if some qualified NGOs are involved in this field to monitor the implementation of the act.CCE and RTE can change the whole education scenario for the benefit of the children and all should make their efforts to see that these reforms succeed.
I would end the article by sharing something which should be taken by all seriously that in any reform or act, the interest of all concerned should be given due importance. Here I would like to talk specifically for the teachers. All know it well that corporal punishment to the children is prohibited in the schools. Most of the teachers do follow the same but sometimes some teachers do get indulged in something which is not acceptable.  Somebody shared with me the following incident. A child had slapped a teacher in the class and then he complained to the authorities that the teacher was disturbing him. When the case was heard the child told in confidence that the teacher was asking him to study and he never wanted to do that and that was the reason for his act. Then he brought into light a startling fact, that our educational board and the government is really so kind because they are absolutely child friendly, all laws and acts say that teachers cannot give corporal punishment but tell me where it is mention that a child cannot slap or misbehave with the teacher.The society can not prosper and progress unless there is a justified use of liberty and rights. If this is not done then a mayhem might be created and situation may go beyond control. With this I am rest my views  for your thoughts and feedback.