Interactive & relatable

Last Updated 30 January 2019, 20:26 IST

Students often develop a liking or a dislike towards the subjects they learn. This can vary from a very passionate liking towards an utter dislike. The different scholastic subjects fall under different places in this spectrum of likes and dislikes. The reasons for this phenomenon could be many. The very nature of the subject could be a major reason. A subject like mathematics invokes a universal fear. On the other hand, science could be fun. Teachers too play a very important role in this regard. A dislike towards a teacher can automatically lead to a dislike towards the subject. National Curriculum Framework 2005 looked at this issue and has made very pertinent and in-depth observations to make the learning process meaningful.

The objective was to shift learning from the rote method, connecting knowledge to life outside the school and to enrich a curriculum so that it goes beyond textbooks. In this regard, there is a lot of work to be done by our textbook writers, the teachers and the teaching process as a whole. The text books followed in the schools do not have any scope in the current scenario. Teachers are not well trained or oriented to the requirements of the new paradigm.

Domains of learning

Benjamin Bloom, a psychologist, initially developed a model of instructional objectives in 1956. Over the years, many have contributed for revising and fine-tuning the taxonomy of learning objectives. According to Bloom and others, there are three domains of learning. The first one is concerned with the cognitive or thinking domain. Under this, students’ developmental processes such as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The second is the affective domain relating to our emotions and feelings. This includes features such as responding, valuing and organisation, characterisation. The third domain is psychomotor, which refers to the physical or kinesthetic function. Under this domain, students develop skills such as imitation, manipulation, precision, articulation and naturalisation. The instruction that we provide should incorporate objectives in all these three areas. But often, the affective and psychomotor areas get sidelined and the cognitive area takes up the prime concern.

When a lesson is taught, sharing information becomes a major process. The teacher is active and the students are passive, hence the interaction suffers. This mechanical work leads to a series of problems mentioned earlier where students lose interest in the subjects.

The lesson plan should set out instructional objectives in all three areas and students’ activity under each category. Under the cognitive domain, the concepts and sub-concepts should be clearly identified. By far, our teachers are able to do a fairly good job in this respect. But under affective and psychomotor domains, the teachers don’t do enough.

When we take up a topic like mensuration in mathematics, teachers rattle out the formulae for surface area, volume and so on for different shapes and work out quite a number of problems. But, a little time should be spent on why we need to find areas and volumes of different figures and shapes. Students can come up with very creative and novel ideas. Students’ minds can be stimulated to find uses of areas and volumes in practical life. This is needed as an activity under the affective domain. Questions such as “If you go to a shop, how many mats do you need to buy to completely cover the classroom floor?”, “How much curtain material do you need to buy to cover the windows?” make the students think the utility value of the concept ‘area’. These questions need to be put not as problems to be solved but to make them realise why we need to understand the concept of area. To design activities under psychomotor domain, groups of students can measure the length and breadth of the classroom, the windows in feet and metres as well.

Science is a subject which can fascinate students. It would not suffice If ‘parts of the flower’ were to be taught simply by drawing a sketch on the board and labelling the parts. Instead, each student should be asked to bring a flower and describe its uniqueness in terms of its colour, arrangement of petals and fragrance if any. Students can carefully separate the sepals, petals, pistil and so on. Children need to marvel at the creation and enjoy the structure and function of each part. They need to appreciate the flower as well as develop finger dexterity while separating the parts of the flower.

In social sciences, if one were to teach ‘primary and secondary sources’ in a history lesson, the mere definitions and examples written as part of classwork would be woefully inadequate. Instead, the class needs to be taken back in time through videos or pictures projected on a smart board. Teachers need to plan their lessons listing activities to be carried out under cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. This is echoed in Gandhiji’s view: “Education is an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man-body, mind and spirit”. Many educationists have viewed education as a comprehensive, holistic process of development of a child. Hence, teachers have to look at their teaching as a process of not just passing on information but to make it a joyful activity.

(Published 30 January 2019, 18:34 IST)

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