Welcome change

Welcome change

Learning outcomes

Welcome change

ENTHUSIASTIC: A student presents his project. PIC BY AUTHORIn the next room, a sports enthusiast uses a cardboard model to take us through a complicated play in football, and there are sounds of a Hindi skit in progress. We even come face to face with Aryabhatta, spreading his teachings!

We are at the St Francis ICSE School, where every student from Class 1 to 10 get involved in the Edu-Fair 2011. “What makes this fair unique is that it covers all subjects and co-curricular activities,” says Buvana Ananth, a parent of the school. So we watch while students demonstrate a science experiment, we play a ‘fishing game’ for vowels and consonants, witness a few classical dance moves, and marvel at a medieval castle made entirely of empty toothpaste boxes.

As we move from room to room, each with a welcome sign telling us which subject we can expect to find inside, we are met with a, “Good morning! May I explain?” and a brief summary of the topic at-hand. Before we know it, we’ve visited every room and enjoyed every interaction with students of various age-groups, some in their school uniforms and some in appropriate costumes to better bring out the theme they’re working with. This gets us thinking about the learning outcomes of such an exhibition. Aside from the obvious — that students gain some information about the topic they are handling — we see evidence of other, less apparent but very vital achievements.

All subjects are important

When the focus is widespread, all subjects become equally important. Where, usually, ‘science’ or ‘maths’ are highlighted in exhibitions, here ‘sports’, ‘dance’ and ‘culture’ find equal footing, making it a well-rounded approach, and allowing students to showcase their talent.

All models on display, pertaining to Geography, History, Science, Communications, Languages or Sports, have been made out of waste materials. Students have learnt to gather these materials — like empty toothpaste boxes — according to the model they’re planning to make. They then put them together to make the model, collect the necessary information, and present it as a whole to the visitor.

Most students have worked in teams with their peers.  They have learnt to plan and allot the work to be done before the exhibition — such as making models or collecting information — and during the exhibition, they take turns to man their stalls and visit other stalls, or take breaks, during the day.  They’re thus aware of each participant’s role and can cover for a team-mate should he/she not be at the stall when a visitor approaches.

What struck us in particular was the brevity of each student’s presentation. The models and experiments were not too complicated for a visitor to understand. Explanations are no more than two pithy sentences each. Students also knew how to judge the body language of visitors, and to present to only those who they recognised as being receptive.

They were  familiar with their chosen topics, and present their models with confidence. They were enthusiastic through the day, despite having to  repeat the information to various visitors. While we saw teachers in charge of a particular room or floor, there was no interference from their end during presentations. Children welcomed the visitors, presented their models with flair and handled questions independently.

In the ‘Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW)’ room, students sold things they had made, like newspaper bags, earrings and key-chains, handling money and change with no adult interference.
We leave the venue with sounds of voices, singing and laughter ringing in our ears, our minds resonating with the enthusiastic learning the children have experienced.