Making learning easy and enjoyable!
Academic Director, Dhamma Dipa School, South Tripura
In our lifespan, we learn through both formal and informal modes. In informal context, we learn at home, we learn from everyday living, infact we learn from all aspects of life. It is a life long process and educators need to integrate informal ways of learning into the current curriculum.
In formal way, learning and education happens in institutions. Formal learning has taken a front seat with teachers going for officially structured syllabus, following a routine system of learning with time assessment as continuous process in defined stages. Formal education includes primary, secondary, higher secondary and university level education — all with a certification.
But, the boundaries between formal and informal learning are blurred and can change from context to context, from discourse community to discourse community; and there are many hybrid varieties of learning. In much informal learning, there are some elements of formality, assisted learning with small components which are structured in order to master a particular element, drawing out of general conclusions, promotion of more conscious learning, and assessment of learning outcomes. On the other hand, in most formal learning situations, there are elements of informality, situated learning, application of the generalised learning to the specific life situation of the learners, reconciliation of the new learning with the individual experience of the learners, to name a few.
Informal learning is now recognized as being far more extensive than formal learning. The image has been used many times of an iceberg of learning: what cannot be seen is not only larger but also more influential than what can be seen, for it supports and indeed determines what can be seen above the water line. But much of this informal learning is not recognised as ‘learning.’
For overall development of a child, both formal and informal learning are necessary. Nowadays schools are going for activity based curriculum, which is a good step.
Informal learning in schools…
Informal learning is what keeps us vibrant, mentally active and interested in the world around us, as well as our own development. Just because informal learning cannot be easily quantified does not mean that it is not worthwhile – or even essential to our development and growth as human beings.Informal learning is a lifelong process. Few informal instruments of learning include:
- Club activities: Students learn how to work as a team.
- G.D. (group discussion): All students learn to speak and share their thoughts and views.
- Rapid fire questions: The game can be played solo or in groups. This can help in keeping the students minds proactive.
- Slate chalk games: Give a slate and chalk to each child and make them sit or stand in the manner that two kids face each other. Ask a question and let them write the answers on the slate. Once the teacher says turn around, each child shows his slate to his partner.
- Spinning board should be made with different topics. As soon as the spinner stops, the revolving pointer stops on a topic and randomly a kid is asked to speak something on that topic.
- Memory word games: These can be used for the junior level kids, who can improve their vocabulary with it.
Academics – a rat race?
Academia has turned into a rat race, leading to a deep change in the fundamental structure of academic behaviour, and entailing a self-defeating and hence counter-productive pattern.The teachers are pressurised to finish the syllabus on time and the parents pressurise kids to come first. This has become a mad race.
Students should learn to accept criticism and both school and home should counsel them that way so that the rat race can be coped up. Teach the students to love themselves and accept failures in the positive way. And consecutively admire those who are able to successfully get out of the rat race, because very few people are able to follow their passions and succeed in unconventional streams.
Integrating learning experiences…
When I was in school, I was taught comprehension only in reading class,maths in only mathematics class, and so on. I often wondered why some math concepts weren’t taught in science since they somehow seemed to have a relationship. Also, maths it is described as one that connects different areas of study by cutting across subject-matter lines and emphasizing unifying concepts. Integration focuses on making connections for students, allowing them to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that can be connected to real life.
Students not only connect and create more real world connections in integrated classrooms, but they are also more actively engaged. Creating an integrated curriculum means that teachers are charged with having to create challenging, fun, meaningful tasks that help students connect to information. Creating a solar system unit that also requires oral language development and practice, reading comprehension skills and mathematics, can engage students far more than just a lesson on the solar system alone. Integration helps to achieve retention and engagement in classrooms, which yields higher mastery of content standards.
Learning: a lifelong process
Education is a part of life itself and an infinite preparation for life. As technology advances quickly, lifelong learners have to learn new skills and adept to rapid changes in professional and personal environments. Nowadays, we replace workers with learners or community members to acknowledge all participants in the learning. They also give educators the ability to create a private network with a clearly defined purpose, an alternative to using Facebook—a system that may be perceived as primarily a “social” system—for educational purposes.
When we are in the classroom, 90% of your interest in the subject depends on your teacher: if the teacher is passionate about his/her discipline, then students can feel it and care more. Even if they have problems with this class, they do not feel afraid of looking for the teacher’s help because passionate teachers are usually very open and eager to offer any assistance ever after school hours, so learning beyond the classroom are much more sensible.
Learning outside the classroom helps children feel the nature better and become more concerned about the environmental issues, which is also crucial today.By taking learning beyond the classroom you’ll find dozens of opportunities to make learning concepts, real and relevant by putting them into a more realistic context. Suddenly their minds are free to explore and you can often end up with some very creative results no matter what subject you’re teaching them.
Experimenting is also a fantastic way to learn – very young children learn a huge amount about volume and textures by simple things like sand and water play, whilst older children enjoy becoming nature detectives and learning about mini-beasts and their habitat.
Co-curricular activities facilitate in the development of various domains of mind and personality such as intellectual development, emotional development, social development, moral development and aesthetic development.
One of the key benefits of learning outside is that you have the most amazingly well resourced stock cupboard you could hope for – and a lot of it is free. No matter how tight your school’s budget, so long as you have a good imagination, you’ll be able to develop free, meaningful learning opportunities for your children that will stick with them.
Technology in education
Education has been greatly advanced by the technological advances of computers. Students are able to learn on a global scale without ever leaving their classrooms. But, the impact of technology in modern life is unmeasurable, we use technology in different ways and sometimes the way we implement various technologies do more damage than good.
Here are few advantages of technology in education:
- Easier for Education: In the working world, in nearly every job you may take, you have to know how to operate a computer. Teaching this skill to children early will give them an advantage.
- Wider approach to society: Before the internet, children knew what their family taught them. This caused their political and religious views to be the only ones that the children knew. Having access to the technology will expose them to things outside of their parents interests and help them to form their own opinions
- Sea of information: Virtual classes are delivered at many schools. E-learning is making inroads in education. Students make use of internet technology to download important study materials in the form of text, audio and videos.
- Brings some fun into the classroom: Learning the same exact way from the same person every day can really get boring. This boredom turns into a lack of motivation in the students. When they are able to integrate computer learning into their normal schedule, they become much more excited to learn. Use of AR and VR can further keep them engaged.
But, there is a flip side too. Here are the major shortfalls of technology in education:
- Huge reservoir of wrong or harmful information: Getting access to inappropriate information is a big challenge. Parents need to see what their kids are accessing.
- Wastage of time: Some children waste immense time and energy in doing non-productive activities. Some of them get addicted to internet activities such as browsing, gaming, etc., and waste time and energy.
- Distraction: Attentiveness drops drastically when students have their cell phones or other technologies near them.
But, technology is a powerful contributor to learning if it is used to deepen students’ engagement in meaningful and intellectually authentic curriculum. Technology can be used to restructure and redesign the classroom to produce an environment that promotes the development of higher-order thinking skills.
Pinky Banik,Advocate,High court of Tripura, is the Academic Director of Dhamma Dipa School, South Tripura. She is a Montessori trained teacher and has also been a lecturer in MBB College. She holds a B.A. (Law), LLB (Honours) degree and has been practicing law from 2009. She has also completed her M.A. in Sociology and has been associated with different organisations, imparting social work in Tripura.
She has conducted various workshops for teachers, students and different other groups for women and children to impart practical knowledge about the basic legal rights and remedies. Some of the modules she conducts workshops are – Law Awareness Program,Right to Education, Procedure of approaching and utilizing various channels available for the redressal of grievances, role of courts in achieving gender equality, District Legal Service Authority, Protection of Children against sexual abuse, and Criminal law and women to name a few.