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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Studying in real time

Studying in real time




   Priyanka wonders why she is taught sets and matrices in mathematics and how it would ever benefit her in the future. Similarly, Sanchit fails to understand why he needs to study, in detail, the working of circuits in physics when he has no plans of becoming an electrician. "These days students tend to look for logic behind everything. As a result, they don't readily accept things that they believe have no meaning for them," points out Sangeeta Luthra, TGT in biology, DPS-Gurgaon. 


   And it isn't just the students, as now even teachers feel that the curriculum is 'bookish' and needs to be overhauled to incorporate more real-life examples that students can easily relate to. Also, education should aim to help students solve 'real-life problems' instead of merely securing good marks. According to Abhinav Dhar, senior vice-president, Educomp Solutions Ltd: "Schools take pride in publicising their high results and that is very unfortunate as, in a way, we are encouraging a system which is 'marks-oriented' and subsequently encourages rote learning. We need, instead, to focus on the quality of teaching so that students grasp concepts for life. The emphasis should be on fundamentals and teaching should be such that it encourages thinking." 


   Commenting on the present curriculum being followed in schools, he adds: "We continue to teach outdated curriculum and that is a core issue that needs to be addressed. Also, the selection of topics that are taught is also a matter of serious concern." Similarly, Sujatha Ramadorai, member, National Knowledge Commission, states: "Textbooks, today, are urban-centric but teaching methodologies and ideas are not. Therefore, it depends on a teacher as to how s/he deals with a subject and makes it interesting for students adding their own experiences, real life examples, research and using low cost teaching learning materials (TLMs) among others." 


   She adds: "Teachers play an important role in conveying the reality behind abstracts. Subjects like mathematics rely heavily on cumulative knowledge and early years are critical. Therefore, students need inspired teachers who instil a sense of confidence in them and they also feel equally motivated to study." 


   However, teachers argue that they have no motivation and their profession is still unrecognised as compared to other conventional ones. Monika Chopra, a PGT in chemistry, N C Jindal School, Punjabi Bagh, opines: "Motivation is lacking in this profession and that hardly leaves any place for innovation. The profession has been severely undermined in recent years and it is important that teachers are given due recognition for their contribution to society." 


   Chopra uses various low cost TLMs to develop the interest of her students in chemistry classes. She elaborates: "To explain the concept of weight, for instance, we use three polybags containing stones, apples and melons. In the process, students learn why one bag is heavier than the other. Similarly, foil and iron fillings are used to teach some other concepts." 


   However, as far as the development of teachers is concerned, she adds: "Teachers should be provided with avenues to discuss new pedagogical developments but, instead, they are made to work within such restraints that there is no scope for experimentation or innovation. This academic autonomy is lacking."





Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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