“The Teacher-Student ratio is certainly a very important factor in determining the quality of interaction between the teacher and the taught. Managing the class, holding the attention of students checking assignments and tests –all these suffer because of the pressure of numbers.” ASHA RAMACHANDRAN (Teacher) Most people shared ASHA’s view: The numbers in our classroom are too large. Then again, with ever increasing queues clamouring for admission, should even more students be tuned away? Many schools have successfully implemented the group approach. A large classroom of students is divided into smaller sections of 5-8 students for interactive work. The teacher moves among the groups thus dealing more personally than is possible in the large class.ARE WE SPOON FEEDING?
“That depends completely on the teacher”, says Mrs. Gurbani, “I personally balance it our depending on the child’s lever-definitely not spoon - feeding, but helping a little more in certain cases.” A sensible approach, since we don’t have a prototype of the 40 students in a class.
Many respondents felt that there is a great deal of spoon feeding-sometimes to combat competitive pressures.
Priyank Gandu of class 6, Modern School, Delhi, was all praise for his teachers,” They let us observe and think for ourselves. It’s a good way of teaching and it makes us independent.” Like Priyank, students experience the joy of learning through discoveries of their own. One of the greater problems of education remains, that solutions are offered without the existence of a question. - H.J.M. Nouwen
“The mental block to mathematics has been carried down through generations-as a subject of relatives and abstractions without opinions”, Mrs. I. Mukherjee (Teacher). Most problem solving is mechanical, as Anand a young student says, “the teacher usually writes the answers on the black board. I feel children should use their brains to get answers.” True. But that means Time. Most teachers seem to be battling to complete syllabi.
R. Vikram who teaches mathematics has some effective suggestions:
“A Proper Sequence of Topics and pace setting in accordance with learning are crucial. Unless a student has grasped one topic thoroughly, subsequent topics become meaningless gibberish.”
Topic Specific Tutorials should be held for each class. So if you haven’t grasped a particular concept you attend just the relevant tutorial.
Fear of Failing is a stumbling block in itself. The ‘fail label’ and the stigma attached needs to be avoided.”
While many succumb to the math-phobia, there are others like 10 year ole Chetan Lokur who enjoys playing with numbers. Just for the fun of it, he puzzles out problems other 16-year old’s shy away from. I think that is the secret. Taking on mathematical problems like the challenge of a puzzle, brings in the fun of learning.PARENTS: DOING THEIR BIT
“I feel parents don’t put in quality time because they are too busy with their own work”. Arjun (Class V Student).
A study conducted by BBC shows a direct correlation between the time parents spend supervising children’s work, and their academic performance. A majority of children left totally on their own, show lower school results.
Father’s usual spends longer hours out of the house. They need to ‘create time’ for children. May be even spending a few minutes at night talking and looking at schoolwork done is a sign of involvement.
You can go beyond supervising homework and learning. Simple things like shared readings, discussions at the dinner table, browsing together at book shops can make learning exciting and fun. With a little effort and imagination small laboratories can be set up at home.
A few parents of class 6 students, Springdales, Delhi, have formed an informal group among themselves to keep abreast with school progress. Networking among parents can creatively promote learning.ROTE LEARNING & FORMULATED ANSWERS-THE EASY WAY OUT
“Why do laboratories play such a small role in science teaching?” History can be taught through projects, seminars and live situations? Teachers should assist students internalize knowledge and probe facts.” (The Hindu DT 3-6-97)
A certain amount of rote learning is necessary in all subjects. But it certainly cannot encompass all learning. Formulated answers are the easy way out for the lazy teacher and students.TOEING THE LINE
Parents & Teachers alike felt that discipline is definitely a casualty now-a-days. Then, is this a priority for us at home or school? “Television sets are turned on all evening and till late at night in many homes-that’s how the fathers, in particular relax”, says A. Batta, principal, Bloom Public School.
How can you expect children not to be T.V. addicts? We need to set a pattern in our home-having times for study, recreation, meals and sleep. Children will automatically fall in line.
In school too, its seems to be only P.T. instructors who monitor discipline. “Many a teacher turns a ‘Nelson’s eye’ not bothering to check an errant child. She feels its not her job”, says- A Teacher
Discipline is a way of life, not merely about the noise in the classroom or work completed.ENGLISH – THE CLEAR FAVOURITE
“Yes, that’s right. These days all the programmes on Television (which children watch) are in English and it’s also the language spoken in many homes.” Mr. Ravi Mathur.
Greater usage of the language, the media, and the subject matter itself is the reason cited. If you are in Sheetal Behal’s English class at Modern School, Delhi, the innovative approach would be yet another reason to love English. She writes for SCS:
Research has shown that there has been a shift from traditional approaches in second language teaching, which was largely teacher centred to the current approach which focuses on the student.
This year we’ve introduced the Getting Ahead Series by Arya Book Depot. These books are based on an interactive approach. The book is divided into themes which are selected and graded keeping the interest and the level of the students in focus.
The first class is always introductory, aiming to familiarize the students with the books style of teaching and syllabus. The children then form groups of four and study the cover and contents of the books. They then discuss the books, it’s contents and the teaching style that should be followed after which a class discussion is held. All this is done under the supervision of the teacher.
After this open discussion the children become more confident and lose the inhibitions, they had on the first day. Such sessions create a lot of enthusiasm in the students and an eagerness to learn. The units are taught and whatever chapters can be enacted are acted out by the children. The children bring their own costumes, write their own scripts, do all the spadework of writing the dialogues, directing the play and arranging the props. Some of their plays are put up on stage for the rest of the school. As drama is an effective tool in the teaching of language, the students respond enthusiastically.
The year, once the plays are over, we plan to have a hot seating session, where a character is put in the centre and anyone from the class can throw questions at the person. The objective is to examine the motives, actions and personality of the character from different angles.
This is what one of Sheetal’s class V students have to say: “We had to put up a play in English on the lesson ‘A Narrow Escape’. All my friends took part in it. We were both nervous and excited as it was the first time we were putting up a play all by ourselves. Our play went very well. Ma’am gave us a small gift because she knew that we were responsible.” Ruchir Jain PVTEACHING-MAKING IT A JOY
Teaching is exhausting & exhilarating, stimulating and boring. It’s up to each teacher to make the highs outweigh the low. You can teach for the pay cheque or for a greater purpose and vision. Teaching and learning are a continuum and only when the joys of teaching are experienced, can the joys of learning follow.
Innovation and imagination transform the tedious lesson into fun learning. But to be a stimulation, teachers must themselves be stimulated. Continually keeping abreast with the latest in academics, attending seminars and development programmes, prevent stagnation.
It’s up to us as individual teachers and parents to make that extra effort. We owe it to ourselves and our children.