New traditions in modern classroom learning
Deputy Director, Sunbeam Group of School, Varanasi, UP
Now that we live in an era of ultra-modern technologies, every aspect of our day-to-day life has been involved around technology-driven activities and products. Let’s find out the roles these technologies play in classroom learning process.
It is said ‘Technology is a culture catalyst’. It appears to be replacing many of the established tools and practices of a classroom environment. How do you think technology can be leveraged to the best advantages of a classroom learning process?
Having taught in the classes and managed schools for many years I have my strong views about leveraging technology in the classroom. Though I am a technology immigrant and not a native I do stand for use of technology in the field of education with a word of caution that no technology can ever replace the human touch. The teacher carries with her the experience, the maturity and the intelligence to gauge human moods and differences which technology can never do so if we propagate or the teacher misconstrues that the moment technology has come into my class it will take over and it is time for me to stand aside, disaster in learning happens. So, is technology bad? No it is not if used by the teacher sparingly and material she has personally researched or studied well, with which she is connected and excited about is used. Technology when used interactively with human intervention is enjoyable. 3D images shown for better understanding is a great tool. Technology can be used as a tool that breaks away the class monotony and adds to the flavour and as an assessment tool it is very powerful. Technology is here to stay but the intelligent teacher does not let it become overbearing in the class.
Given the unlimited use of laptops and other accessories for writing inputs, ‘writing’ as a habit appears to be slowly vanishing in the younger generation. The relevance of writing to many mental processes and expressions of creativity is getting marginalised. What do you think a school should do to ensure the writing habit remains as a learning culture in a school environment?
The technology natives, our children, are quite happy writing on their laptops or iPads rather than the traditional way and I don’t think it takes away creativity as children are comfortable with it but writing in India in terms of speed and legibility has to be stressed upon as our exam pattern has not moved to online 100 percent and a number of tests are pen paper tests which makes stress on handwriting important. iPads etc are out of reach of a lot of learners in our nation, so though it does not hamper with creativity, writing in the traditional way is important.\
There is an increasing amount of stress among the learners. It is claimed that one significant factor that contributes to stress is the mismatch between the learning style of an individual learner and the delivery models of pedagogy in a classroom. What steps can be taken by a progressive school to reduce this mismatch?
Children learn at their own pace and in their own unique way. Our class strength and lack of training of the teacher is a great impediment to realising this dream of each child learning his unique way. Since our teacher training courses become archaic, in service training is a must. I have seen young enthusiastic teachers doing a great job of understanding uniqueness of the students and trying their level best to reach out to them and teaching in the style that best suits the child once good training is imparted to them. The strength in a class also is an impediment. If class size is reduced as a teacher you can reach out at an individual level to a lot of children in the class.
Given a diversified and engaging curriculum in schools, parental engagement with children is an emerging concern. How do you think a school should address this issue to ensure quality engagement of the parents with their children?
Parents I think are the biggest stake-holders in this business of education of the children and if parents are involved in the schools it can a make a lot of difference. Most of the time parents disengagement is because of the attitude of the school management and teachers. We as a nation are not happy with questioning and an inquisitive parents’ innocent questions are looked upon with suspicion. As schools we should have patience and take out time from our busy schedule to answer the queries of parents who will slowly get used to the system and get satisfied. Parents unfortunately are always called in our system only when something is wrong, so our start point of engagement with parents is negative and it just begins wrong. We have to create systems of positive engagements and catching children doing good and congratulating parents for it. Parents who are capable should be invited not only as guests for functions but to deliver a guest lecture or as bus companions, etc. The more parents engage with us as teachers and managers of schools the more they understand that our job is also not easy and over time there is more empathy and understanding of the school system and they slowly become partners in education.
‘Excessive focus on tools of learning is marginalising the quality and depth of learning.’ Do you agree with the above statement? How do you think a school promote the quality and depth of learning in a classroom situation?
Quality in teaching is the most important part of education. I think high quality teaching and understanding of theory and child psychology is extremely important for a good teacher to convert the class into a meaningful Mecca of learning. After proper and ongoing training to bring the best and latest into the classroom the teacher must be given the freedom to experimenting different methods in accordance to the different needs of the students in the class as experimentation leads to new and unique ideas. Teachers should be regularly sparked and left to innovate. Basic administrative work should be taken care of so that there is a smooth running of classes and the teacher is left free with some free time on hand to do research of her teaching. An environment of research in teaching and application of research is absolutely important for better teaching and learning to transpire in a class.
At the end I strongly feel if the teacher wants to make a difference in the lives of the children the ‘role model’ factor, traditional as it sounds, still remains and to be a role model you have to rise above the ordinary. When our teachers achieve this status in the eyes of their students they will regain their lost glory and a deserved place in the Indian job scale.