Nurturing learners for life!


Uma Ramesh
Head Curriculum – Lakshmi Vidya Sangham

The schools should ensure that young adults leave the school with the motivation and capacity to continue learning throughout life. To do this the school should establish the goals, persevere, monitor their learning progress, adjust the learning strategies as necessary and overcome difficulties in learning in the big picture of the curriculum map.

The schooling process should reflect each student’s interests, readiness and personal investment. The pedagogy needs to be changed to make the learner to communicate and collaborate and not to be a passive listener, shares Uma Ramesh.

TPS: There is a long standing view that only a limited quantity of learning is obtained through formal institutions of learning and informal learning plays a significant role in the empowerment of individual. This view has been further strengthened by cognitive psychologist. How do you think schools can cope with situations by synergizing formal and informal learning modes?

Uma: I have had my eyes open to the world of schooling that happens beyond the walls of the traditional brick and mortar education. The stimulating environments like park, libraries, living rooms, play ground and toys plays vital role in the learning. Self directed learning from the environment through the senses teaches the essential understanding of the concepts. A lot of time invested in doing something promotes the responsibility for a child on what and how to learn. This learning changes everything and empowers students with the opportunity of holistic learning and supports them to uncover the concepts hidden in the manipulative/products. Incorporating or expanding upon at least a few of this gives a trust that students can be masters of their own learning. The schooling process should reflect each student’s interests, readiness and personal investment.

TPS: Can you suggest a few informal instruments of learning provided by schools that helps in the process of empowerment of the individual and how do they play a scaffolding role in learning?

Uma: Field trips, activity areas, Science corners, projects, labs, manipulative puzzles, group discussions, think pair shares activities, role plays, nature walk, debates are the few instruments that promote informal learning. The first is the pedagogical perspective that deals with scaffolding self-regulated learning and supports the completion of tasks creating a shared understanding of the task. In the pedagogical perspective, a self-regulated learner enters into interactions with the more capable peer. Through grounding the two negotiate a common understanding of the task and the more capable peer then uses support structure to adapt the support to the learner, transferring more and more responsibility to the learner. In this process of learning, a network is created providing opportunity to each individual to teach as well as learn from peer.

TPS: With a high thrust on competitive learning, most schools appear to have neglected or marginalized such vital requirements and appear to be promoting rote learning preparing the students for a rat race. In this context what do you think are the future challenges and how do you think schools can cope with them?

Uma: Understanding concepts in depth, to think critically, solve problems and draw decisions, the ability to analyze, apply, synthesize and create, work creatively and able to communicate and collaborate are the essential skills that form the heart of the curriculum as these are essential for both the world of work and success in life. The pedagogy should address deeper learning and foster higher order thinking skills. The pedagogy needs to be changed to make the learner to communicate and collaborate and not to be a passive listener. Deep understanding and actionability for the real world will occur only by embedding skills within the knowledge domain such that each enhances the other. Emotional stability and health education are to be factored in the school curriculum.

The in-service education for the teachers should reflect the above and to make students equip for future challenges, we need to give them a voice (i.e) they have to be responsible for their likes and choices.

The goals of education and of a school should aim to synthesize and contribute on why skills matter and which skills are important for learning and future outcomes.

TPS: Many schools believe that provision of informal support to learning for extended and impactful learning comes with the cost which parents cannot afford and hence find it convenient to marginalize them. Is there a scope for integrating such learning experiences with curricular architecture and how do you think this can be done?

Uma: According to me, it’s a myth that quantum of learning is directly proportional to the cost of learning materials. The curriculum design of a school should create learning outcomes and learning objectives to match the learning environment without compromising the standards. Mapping the available resources with the curriculum will be an added value to provide significant learning experiences. Seminars, study sessions, workshops provide opportunities for the students to meet the standards. Retaining teachers with such skills who care about the subject, their learners and about teaching and learning will be productive for the organization. Usage of active learning, the system of feedback that promotes impactful learning, interaction with the students, challenging students to make progress in learning could be considered in the curricular design of the school. A mindset is required to thoughtfully integrate various disciplines that provide a strong foundation in conceptual understanding and optimizing the usage of resources.

TPS: Learning beyond” is fundamental to “Learning always” and“Life long learning.” It is development of a mindset and attitude to learning which is required for a vibrant knowledge society and a global learning environment. How can this idea be seeded in the young mind which would trigger them to be powerful “Self learners”?

Uma: Children come to school with an open mind and willing to learn. The schools should foster and strengthen this predisposition and ensure that young adults leave the school with the motivation and capacity to continue learning throughout life. To do this, the school should establish the goals, to persevere, to monitor their learning progress, to adjust the learning strategies as necessary and to overcome difficulties in learning in the big picture of the curriculum map. Students interest to be fostered and positive attitude towards the subject to be reflected in the curriculum. As the majority of students, learning time is spent in school, the climate of the school is important for the creation of “Learning beyond,” and effective learning environment. Learning beyond always kindles the curiosity of the child and some of the non-cognitive outcomes of schooling that serves the purpose of education. The concept of personalized learning and individual learning targets are the force behind learning which steers the plan of the curriculum.

TPS: In a world haunted by technology, most learners spent their time with the instruments of technology for further and extended learning. What are its advantages and shortfalls? How do you think this mindset can be changed to a positive and personalized interactive social learning culture?

Uma: “We are living in the world where technology almost surpass humanity,” said Albert Einstein. Use of these hi-tech mechanizations hinders the steps of learning and also demolishes the creativity and thinking skills of learners. The learners are misguided by wrong information available that become a serious obstacle in their development. The click of a mouse has the power to control everything and makes the learners lazy and disconnected from the real world. Students use technology in place of handwriting which slows down the writing skill and thinking processes. Though e-books are handy and eco-friendly, replacing books with e-books causes eye strain and are not cost effective at times. On the other hand, technology should be fused with the method of teaching to make learners’ brain working instead of being totally dependent on them. If used appropriately, it has the great potential to enhance students’ achievement and teachers learning. The new software and applications which are interactive could be used to create environment in which students can learn by doing, receive feedback and continually refine their understanding and build new knowledge. Bringing exciting curricula based on real world problems by providing scaffolds and tools to enhance learning will provide expanding opportunities for the teacher and the taught. Create an active environment in which students not only solve problems and also find their own problems/queries could be done through appropriate software. For example in a banking simulation, students assume roles, such as vice president of a bank and learn about the knowledge and skills needed to perform various duties.

Uma Ramesh, Head Curriculum – Lakshmi Vidya Sangham, a young spirited fresher, entered the LVS institution three decades ago as a teacher of the primary level. Now she is a confident and promising leader of all the LVS schools.

Her passion for teaching Maths is boundless and is proven across the student community. She gained the ability to handle teachers and share her subject competency through the post of the Academic Supervisor of the middle level of TVSMHSS. Active participation in Quality Circles has enabled her to travel across nations and be a part of international conventions.

As the Principal of TVS Matric School, she took the school to great heights through her open attitude for learning and her love for children. As the Project Team Head she has been able to spread her learning to the outside world. Heading the LVS Schools as the Head of the Curriculum department, she strives to enhance the learning climate of the LVS institutions and ensure 21st century learning and skills for each and every child of all schools.