Skill development with special focus on Gandhian philosophy of education

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The school heads have the ongoing challenge to create thinking individuals and provide an environment to students & teachers to innovate in all directions, be it an innovative idea, an innovative machine or artifact or even an innovation in pedagogy or lifestyle.

The 21st Century has ushered in a plethora of opportunities in terms of learning pattern, job types etc and it has also made it evident that we should equip ourselves with the skills that are required to meet these challenges like collaboration, communication, critical thinking, career planning etc. With the additional value of artificial intelligence getting added to our daily life, it has become imperative to create, uncreate and recreate. Schools of today and tomorrow have realized their responsibilities and have integrated ICT in their classrooms. The school heads have the on-going challenge to create thinking individuals and provide an environment to students & teachers to innovate in all directions, be it an innovative idea, an innovative machine or artifact or even an innovation in pedagogy or lifestyle. True to Gandhiji’s vision, technology is the binder in the whole process that is augmenting growth and development of students in a holistic manner. Technology is bringing in a paradigm shift in the role of a teacher, from one of being the dispenser of knowledge to be a learning catalyst. It is orchestrating defining moments for students who would now be the focal points of the classroom, creating new models, like scientists and composing new concepts as artists and continuously designing change.

Thus, with the help of planning, analyzing the feedback and executing the system’s expectations, we have been able to bring about a pedagogical shift to the traditional classroom practices and embarked upon a robust learning environment that supports blending and integrating technology within the coming years so as to align our goals and objectives to create leverage for everyone to fully engage in the change process.

Keeping in sync with the Gandhain thoughts, the technology is deployed for the all-round development of the students for:
• Cognitive growth through online digital learning, ICT tools used in classroom.
• Spiritual growth, through use of audios in Yoga, Silence time etc. played through Public Address System, Awakened Citizens program in grade VI-VIII, Quality Circle time in primary school and SEWA in senior school.
• Kinesthetic growth, as digital tools help in capturing the games played and videos thus created motivate others to play better.
• Social development as social networks help in making collaborative groups and ease communications.

Shift to digital learning…

Digital learning is a liberating shift. As teachers spend less time creating presentations and more time crafting powerful learning activities, comprising audio-visual or activity-based modules, leading to better retention and comprehension in students and saving time too in the long run. Teachers can also use these learning tools to prepare blended lesson plans and further customize lesson plans to cater to individual learning requirements of students. Digital learning tools are also effective in engaging students better be it Group discussion, activity-based lesson, hands-on learning or a group assignment.

We, at Amity, ensure that during assessments, by utilizing the data and analysis that, teachers are empowered with real-time feedback about student success as they can isolate specific deficiencies and find opportunities for acceleration. With the vision and plan in place, a handful of innovative educators pilot the use of new technology and methodology in their classrooms. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are created by these digitally smart teachers through online communities. They are even encouraged to share and develop their skills and resources on social networking sites like Yammer, Twitter or #EdChat discussions.

Sharing the learning experiences of these teacher educators on school websites or web portals, encourages them to enhance their skills further, thus catapulting the teaching-learning process into a new level of excellence. An action research survey was conducted for the teachers of the school, whose results indicate, that the teachers enjoy using ICT tools and they feel student engagement and academic rigor are enhanced with its usage. Another survey done on the student community make us deduce that the school is truly following the Gandhiji’s philosophy of all-round development of the students as the truest aim of education.

Keeping these in mind, flipping the classrooms, participatory research, virtual field trips and project-based learning have also been incorporated in the curriculum that is eventually helping in lifelong learning, making it more authentic and meaningful. But at the same time, the school has taken conscious steps in the direction of training the learner about not only responsible citizenship of the real world but also of the digital world. The school is very active in spreading awareness about the concepts such as privacy on internet, cyber bullying, and copyright infringement and strict adherence to cyber regulations.

As a school leader…

Facilitating and modeling behavior is the prime responsibility of the School Heads. As lead learners, they can participate as learners and work as ‘facilitators from the front’ and work as a team with teachers to make instructional improvements. As a school head, I personally am driven by the following:
• Know-ability — Knowledge and understanding of best practice, effective management of human resources and capacity building for collaboration. Continuous training programs for teachers through Center of Excellence, for example, CBSE and Microsoft professionals have helped in keeping faculties updated.
• Mobilize-ability – Ability to inspire and motivate others, effective communication skills, being involved in professional learning. I personally being, Microsoft Master Trainer, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Skype Master Teacher, am able to take along the faculties in the direction of new research.
• Sustain-ability— Building and sustaining strong relationships, creating positive non-threatening environment of trust and encouragement. The work culture in school promotes collaborative efforts of teacher and student groups.

Schools today have a big responsibility towards the spiritual development of their students. This can come about not only through invoking the power of Prayer but also drawing their attention towards the service of humanity. Life skills education and value driven assemblies, community outreach programs and practicing good norms could build the school culture of honesty and humility. Choosing a good environment is a proactive step towards monitoring possible distractions. Prayer is the practice of connecting to something deeper and more meaningful in life. It is rooted in a sense of spirituality.

Incorporating Gandhian philosophy…

Following the teachings of Gandhiji, we at Amity have been practicing two techniques with the students. They are:
• Internal self-reflection and self-awareness exercise: Students are asked to try to look within, find out where they went wrong in their behavior, hurt someone, failed in their planning and the steps to be taken to steer ahead irrespective of hurdles. Five to ten-minute reflection time is given every day wherein the student is quiet, just with himself and taught to dwell within. They pen down their thoughts, in bullets or pictures. This can be done by setting the mood right, either by lighting the lamp or candle in a bid to offer reverence to almighty.
• Connection of self with external creations: An inner dependency with all the other creations, leading to acceptance of all creatures and feeling of brotherhood amongst all. This is practiced through doing prayer in large numbers either by chanting with eyes closed or performing yagna.

Effective professional development through motivation is planned and is an intentional, systemic and an ongoing process at Amity. Encouraging teachers to take leadership roles and make decisions about interventions means that professional development is more likely to reflect the needs of teachers and students. The attitudes and actions of all school administrators surrounding new technologies has encouraged and supported teachers as they engage in learning opportunities and explore new tools. Teacher-leaders also help to create a professional development model that is school-wide and long-lasting rather than the more typical one-shot workshops and piecemeal approaches. And the ongoing process to use technology as a tool to provide all-round development of students continues taking Gandhian ideology along.

Arti Chopra is a dedicated Educationist with over 28 years of experience. An alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, she has been associated with leading institutions like Bal Bharti Public School, Delhi; Sawai Man Singh Vidyalaya, Jaipur and Lawrence School, Ooty in her sparkling career. Besides her teaching experience of 15 years in the field of education, Arti has administrative experience of 13 years as Principal in promising schools like Sunbeam School, Varanasi, Indraprastha International School, Dwarka, New Delhi and presently at Amity International School, Sector 46, Gurgaon

British Council ISA 2014-17 has recognized her for leading the Integration of International Learning in the school. She has been decorated by SGT University with EXCELLENCE AWARD, Inspiring Educator Award by Outdoor Education Research Team of Great Rocksport Pvt. Ltd, Outstanding Educator Award by Ansal University, Gurgaon and Group Challenge Class Hack Award by Microsoft.