Moving towards a better school life

Moving towards a better school life

work in progress

Moving towards a better school life

In India, a child spends 10-12 years at school and how meaningfully he conducts himself all these years defines his future. Our students go to school very punctually, attend all activities very systematically following all the instructions given by teachers and parents, but they come out of the institution without a clear vision about themselves. There might be a few exceptional cases who succeed in overcoming this mind-boggling confusion. But educators can experience true success when a majority of the students realise their capabilities and understand their personalities.

Need for more

National educational policies and practices have undergone lot of changes in recent years, especially with the introduction of the system of continuous comprehensive evaluation, RTE Act etc. A thorough change was expected in the general behaviour and outlook of the students, but the fact is that they have not yet started to respond creatively to these changes.

Studying should be an active process in which the child should be involved completely – body, mind and spirit. But what worries a teacher the most is the passive attitude of the students in the class. Majority of them listen mechanically and do their assignment or homework as a duty. In fact, for many, it is nothing but a burden. This calls for a reformative action.

For this, there should be determined and collective effort from the part of teachers, parents and all stakeholders of education to formulate and enforce a few basic principles to be followed by all students. We should make our students understand that education is not just memorising a few facts and presenting them neatly on the answer book to score better in the exams. The student should understand that examination is merely a means to reach the end and the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers.

It is the responsibility of the teacher to make the students understand the relevance and utility of the concepts taught in the class. A child who fails in correlating the content of the text with his real life may not be able to study the concept with true understanding. On the other hand, if the child is convinced of its relevance and application, he would master the concept with deeper understanding. At this moment, it is needless to say that the curricula followed in our schools should be restructured and modified so that they can have a logical and tangible bearing with human life.

Certain amount of efforts are also necessary from the students. For one, they  should understand that nothing can replace a well-prepared, systematically delivered class by a dedicated teacher. No guide, no software, no virtual classroom can give them as much as a good class taken by their own teacher, who customise the lecture to cater to the needs of every student in the class. Hence, students should make it a point to never miss classes.

But once the student’s presence in the classroom is confirmed, how can on ensure his/her activeness in the class? Taking notes is the best solution. The students can keep a class notebook for each subject and note down important points when the teacher discusses them. This prevents one from losing interest in the class and will also help the student ask questions.

Not a burden

Students generally view homework as a burden. At times, we hear critical comments from parents too. But homework is an extremely useful tool that can make learning meaningful and constructive. What is explained in the class gets reinforced by homework. Hence, students should do their homework and assignments themselves. But at the same time, teachers should see that they are not giving excessive work. Also, use your creativity to make homework more interesting rather than a monotonous task.

Next, students should never resolve to unfair means at the time of examination. Usage of new-age technologies for cheating at the time examinations is not matter of surprise these days. But this unhealthy tendency squeezes out the essence of real learning. Each test is an opportunity for both the teacher and the taught to understand their short comings. The students can modify their study pattern based on his performance, while the teacher can prepare a question wise analysis and thus formulate a better methodology for re-teaching the concepts the students failed to grasp.

Gone are the days when evaluation was completely based on a pen and paper test. The teacher nowadays makes use of various tools for evaluation. Assignments, projects, fieldwork, book review and even a simple quiz can be an effective tool for evaluation. The system of continuous comprehensive evaluation offers the teacher freedom and flexibility and it is solely for the sake of the students, to save him from the drudgery of stereotype evaluation techniques. But the students never realise this; they browse a few websites, download a few pages and submit this trash in the form of their assignments. As a result, the projects and assignments deteriorate to the level of just a compilation of data. 

Students these days do a lot of practicals and record writing. Most of the students do not know what they are doing, why they are doing it and what principles are employed there. Most of the times, these practicals are not conducted side by side with the theory as they are intended to be – either the practicals are conducted before the theory is dealt with or they come later. Thus, many students fail in establishing a connection between what they do and what they learn in the theory class. Thus the entire process loses its meaning. Hence, efforts should be there to avoid this time lag so that the practical experiences can reinforce learning.

Another area that needs working upon is language. Language is matter of skill. One acquires a skill by regular practice. But most of the time language teaching is a very passive process. When compared to science or mathematics, the study of languages appears to be easy and this may be the reason for our students to take it so lightly. But mastery of a language requires a coordination of various skills like listening, speaking, reading and writing.

The tenth Annual Status of Education Report prepared by Pratham, an NGO, after a survey over 577 districts covering 5,69,229 children of age group 3-16 shows that 25 per cent of class 8 students cannot read a class 2 level text in their mother tongue. Same or even worse than this, is the case with English and Hindi too. Our students fail more miserably when it comes to writing. Generally, children are reluctant to read and write and they avoid reading the prescribed textbooks even. Some measures should evolve that make our children read and write with interest.

Sustained motivation is the only means with which we can reconstruct our students and make them active participants in the process of learning. Whatever we elders do, ultimately what makes a child’s school life meaningful is his /her own involvement.

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