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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Building as Teaching Aids

School Infrastructure as Learning Aids

After the success of Taare Zameen Par, which showed how a school’s infrastructure can serve as an effective learning aid, Delhi’s education department is all set to launch a project called BaLA
Building as Learning Aid (BaLA), also an acronym for a girl, is an innovative way of looking at a student's relation with the school. The project, to be launched by the Delhi government on January 23, focuses on using the existing school infrastructure as a part of the learning process and in making education indispensable to everyday life. The project also addresses inclusive education in mainstream schools.
The fact that one's physical space could serve as a resource in the teaching-learning process is being explored seriously by the project. The school buildings and their constituent elements such as floors, walls and ceilings have been treated innovatively so as to help simplify the learning process. The first series would see transformation take place within the confines of a classroom, while the latter would be aimed at integrating studies with the infrastructure outside the classroom. This is how the school would function, once the first phase of the BaLA initiative is implemented.

Blackboards stretched across the length of the classroom's four walls will replace the traditional blackboard. These boards will also take into consideration the height of the students. "On one wall, calendars will be painted with a black grid wherein children will perform their activities. The border along the calendar could also be used to depict the seasons. This would make learning the seasons and months much easier," informed V P Singh, additional state project director. Further, classes will be painted in various colours to help those who find identifying colours difficult.
Every desk will have a scale painted on it to integrate measurement in a child's day-today life. "Students could enjoy measuring their lunch boxes and books by using the desk scale and learn at the same time. Some desks would even have the desk's actual weight painted on them," stated Reena Ray, secretary, directorate of education.

BaLA will also make learning geometrical angles a lot simpler. Students who have to study angles in their curriculum will find the 'Door Angle Protractor' painted on the classroom's entrances. The angles will be aligned with the swing of the door. "Students will know the exact angle at which the doors are opened as the corresponding angles will be painted on the floor," added Singh. Symmetrical shapes of geometry, traditional motifs, illusions and other patterns will also be painted along the vertical divisional line separating the two parts of the doors.
All the colours of the rainbow will be found on the ceiling fans. However, students would be surprised to find that when the fan rotates only white would be visible. This would help teach students the concept of VIBGYOR and that white light comprises seven colours.
No textbook can, perhaps, integrate learning and fun the way games painted on floors can. "A 6/3 grid would be painted on classroom floors. The note besides it reads - identify even, prime and odd numbers and students can jump only diagonally and towards the left to identify the same clan numbers but not to the right. This makes it both, fun and simple," added Ray. According to Ray, the objective is to help students with learning difficulties without making them feel different. "By the time students reach higher classes, they will be well versed with mental mathematics and their basics will be absolutely perfect." Besides, these innovative teaching techniques would benefit all learners.

Sunil Sharma
Dil Se Desi Group

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