Learning beyond curriculum!


Benazir Shafaat Hussain
Special Educator, Step by Step School, Noida

“Tell me and I forget,teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”— Benjamin Franklin

A person with immense knowledge is of no use until he knows how to apply his knowledge. Till date, schools develop specific curriculums and follow them rigidly in imparting that knowledge. Because of its inherent inertia, the school curriculum development has always followed a linear approach in its methodology. The current system with its historical policies fails to recognize the fact that learning can happen in unstructured, creative and an innovative form too.

However, with the technological advances, learning has become increasingly informal. Efficient tools of learning are easily available and resources of learning are in abundance in this age of internet. With the advent of new technology the world over, learning pattern is taking a new turn. Internet, mobile apps and social media have presented themselves as alternate to the current classroom teaching. Now the learner has the option to choose from the wide range of available resources/teachers. This was not possible earlier, when the school had defined curricula, set ways of teaching and defined group of students who had no choice but to learn from what the school could provide. To keep pace with fast growing development it will be more prudent and proactive to adapt the informal learning as a part of regular curricula. Our current policies and curricula should be relooked and revisited to imbibe the informal learning as intrinsic stream of learning.

Vocation based learning: a must

Also, the focus should shift from the basic form of education to new and vocation based learning. In today’s world the professions are not restricted to medicine, engineering and accountancy. There are numerous other fields where the society needs trained professionals, be it ecology, health management, disaster recovery, security, hospitality and many more and this is only possible when the learner and the trainee embrace the changes which time and technology have thrown at them. It is heartening to see that teaching has grown with more creative outlook and has expanded its roots to various subjects which have practical implications on day to day life. These new focus areas can enhance the mental agility and elasticity of the brain functioning.

Libraries – powerhouse of learning

One particular dimension, which stays as the powerhouse of learning, is the collective resources that are available to the society to enhance their knowledge. This dimension has kept itself relevant throughout the evolution of learning and has been “the constant” in the ever-changing and ever-evolving field of learning. Yes, you might have guessed it by now. It is the temple of knowledge – the library. The concept of library has remained same – collection of resources to be used for enhancing one’s knowledge.

However, the form of library has evolved from the beautiful old days of imperial halls where one could spend their days and nights to quench one’s thirst of knowledge to the current avatar of online form where everything is available at the click of a button and few keystrokes.

In line with the expectations of the Gen X, now one is not limited or restrained by the non-availability of the resources one is interested in. Libraries have been birthplace of many researches for years. However, this aspect of library is quite missing in the school environment. Most of the times, resources and materials are so massive that most of them remain untouched. Digitalization of school libraries are the need of the hour. Schools can link up themselves with more advanced libraries through providing e-memberships at institutional level and then help learners at individual levels. The libraries should be transformed with time and their status should be changed from a mere bookstore to an intelligent omniscient teacher and guide. From basic learning to in-depth research, everything will be possible for a seeker of knowledge even in its online persona. There is immense need for changes in the system of school library and it is indispensable. Nothing better than to implement changes at the cradle of knowledge!!!

Values are important too!

Nevertheless, while adopting technology and making the desired changes; we should also be cognizant of the fact that we do not forget our past and how the whole system has evolved. In the eagerness of catching up with the new world, the positive side of the old system should not be abandoned at any cost. For years, we have followed the Gurukul system of learning which always cultivated a great sense of cultural values in us since our childhood. In today’s world with growing digitization, what fades away is the essence of culture and its values. The sense of discipline in disciple is not that visible as the sense of being a guru has lost its significance in the age of advance technology where robots are virtual teachers which can give plenty of information but it cannot teach the gratitude which a student should always have towards her/his teachers. Let, technology take the front seat but not at the cost of losing our cultural values. We have to attain the equilibrium between these two desirable objectives of the education system.

Let’s learn to unlearn

There is no doubt that this is the golden age in many aspects of learning. Be it the new and the one of the most enthusiastic generation or the technological advances, which have revolutionized the way one can garner knowledge. However, to bring it to life, the imparter of education will have to ensure that they expose these curious minds to the world where learning acquires the real value. The educators themselves have to educate themselves before educating others. In fact, more than educating they have to unlearn few things, which they have acquired from the old system and help the new learners in this process. Once this is done, the stage is set for the complete overhauling of the system for the future generations to reap the rewards.So let’s learn to unlearn…….

Benazir Shafaat HussainBenazir Shafaat Hussain is a passionate special educator and loves working with children with special needs (Autism and learning Disabilities). Working them them for the last eight years has taught her that each child has an ability to learn, and it is our responsibility, as grown up individuals, to teach each one of them according to their individual needs.

She is an expert in Remedial teaching, Individual education planning, psychological assessments and curriculum development. Before getting into special education, she was working as lecturer of Psychology at Diana Nursing College (Bangalore).

Besides having Masters in Clinical Psychology from Bangalore University, she also did Diploma in Family Counseling, specialization in Family Counseling and certification course in Autism Spectrum disorders from UC Davis University. Currently, she is pursuing her research in Autism to study how we can improve the learning experiences in children with Autism. She currently works at Step by Step School, Noida.