The Progressive Teacher Conclave

624

The Progressive Teacher magazine organised the fourth Progressive Teacher Conclave followed by ‘Teaching Excellence Awards’ on 27th August 2016 at Sri Sathya Sai International Centre, New Delhi.

Gouri Ishwaran, CEO at the Global Education and Leadership Foundation
Gouri Ishwaran, CEO at the Global
Education and Leadership Foundation

The Conclave comprised a Keynote Address, three Panel Discussions and Awards for Excellence in Teaching and School Education. It was attended by over 350 delegates – teachers, principals, heads and coordinators, educationists and B Ed students.

The event started with a Welcome Note by Rita Wilson, Editor, The Progressive Teacher.

While welcoming the delegates to the Conclave, she reminded them to keep pace with the changes sweeping the world in the twenty-first century and prepare the students to face an uncertain world waiting to dawn. She further stated that we have a responsibility to prepare ourselves and our learners as best we can with an education that is fit for the future.

She emphasised that the teacher in the classroom is all important, not the school, not the environment, not the principal, not the textbooks or the infrastructure. And what makes a difference is not what she teaches but how she or he teaches.

This was followed by a Keynote Address – Making a Difference through School Education by Gouri Ishwaran, Chief Executive Officer at the Global Education and Leadership Foundation.

Recipient of the Padma Shri Award in 2004, and an innovative educationist with over 30 years of experience in leading schools in India, Gowri Ishwaran, cherishes her experiences in the classroom. According to her a teacher is all important as he or she is the one who looks after the human mind making a difference in a child’s life. With a very clear vision of the type of educational experience and nurturing that children of today deserve, she said the 21st century teachers are not dictators but facilitators. They are not knowledge givers, but a link between the book and the student. She talked about 3 Es – Ethics, Excellence and Engagement.

Ethics: Today’s children don’t listen to preaching. They understand logic. If we have to tell them about Ethics we should tell them about team work in a project, making teaching relevant to children. Team work demands trust, respect, and cooperation. We can teach these values to them this way. She said we can’t demand respect from children, we need to earn it; and we can earn their respect only if we practise it ourselves before we ask them to do.

Excellence: Excellence, she said is not about getting the best grade in a subject. It is about doing the best one can do. Every child has a talent. A teacher needs to identify the talent and help the child to attain excellence in that. This can be achieved through sincerity and dedication.

Engagement: According to Gauri Ishwaran, a happy child is confident and will always learn. A teacher should have love for children, reach out to them, and build a relationship with them. This is how he or she can engage them in learning. In her words, ‘You need to light the fire under the pot. What cooks depends upon what is inside the pot.’

Rita Wilson, Editor, The Progressive Teacher
Rita Wilson, Editor,
The Progressive Teacher

She laid a lot of emphasis on research. Children should be made to research from their very school days to learn effectively. She said a teacher should find innovative ways to catch the attention of the students in class. This can be different for different classes depending upon the interest of the students. She also said that we should stop judging students saying – ‘he is useless; she is terrible…’ and so on. She said, ‘We should know that some students are easier to manage, while others are difficult. As teachers we should upgrade our own skills to manage them’. She also suggested that teachers should be sent to rural areas to share their views and experience. She closed her address with the note that ‘it is only by investing in the young that we can secure the future of the country.”

After this KM Thomas, Group Business Head—School and Higher Education, S Chand Publishing made a presentation regarding the publication work of S Chand. He said that teaching is the most challenging of all jobs. S. Chand cares for learners and teachers equally, and is willing to provide all assistance to teachers in teaching.
015


Sarita Mathur – an education consultant offering services to schools, both rural and urban, in India and abroad,
Lt Col (Retd) A. Sekhar – the Principal of Atul Vidyalaya, Valsad,
Kaye Jacob – Principal, The Heritage School,
Anirudh Gupta – a leading Entrepreneur, an Eminent Writer and an enthusiastic Social Worker in Punjab


Key points made by each panellist

Moderator: Sarita Mathur (Educational Consultant)
Moderator: Sarita Mathur
(Educational Consultant)

Sarita Mathur, an education consultant offering services to schools, both rural and urban, in India and abroad, was the Moderator.

Sarita Mathur laid emphasis on Transformative changes in classrooms and schools. She shared her experience of how she institutionalised several long lasting and important changes, placing her school, Shri Ram School, firmly on the map of the most progressive schools in India.

The first panellist, Lt Col (Retd) A. Sekhar, the Principal of Atul Vidyalaya, Valsad, since 2009 talked about Atul Vidyalaya. He shared his experience of creating a value based curriculum, focusing on inclusive education for children with special needs and the socially disadvantaged. He also shared how his Atul Institute of Vocational Excellence achieved success in training 3000 students and placing 80 per cent of the students in good jobs in the last four years.

The second panellist, Kaye Jacob, Principal, The Heritage School shared her experience of heading The Heritage Schools, where the goal is to integrate international best practices in the Indian system of education.

Kaye Jacob advocated Experiential Education (EE) that aims to enrich school education in the Faculty of Sciences and Social Sciences through fostering unique approaches to learning within the classroom and more actively engaging students in practical experience. This, she introduced with a bicycle project. She also believes in strong relationships between academics, career exploration and community involvement.

The third panellist, Anirudh Gupta, a leading Entrepreneur, an Eminent Writer and an enthusiastic Social Worker in Punjab, spoke about the role of technology in teaching. He said this digital generation asks for tranformation in the entire community. Technology should be embedded in the teaching process. According to him, ‘Putting hardwarez in the classroom does not make the class a smart class’. He said there should be transformation in teachers and parents as well. Technology has brought with it an adverse transformation, which may also have a negative effect on the students. He talked about encouraging teachers and parents to be IT literate, so that they may know the do’s and don’ts of providing information to the students.

Sarita Mathur, Kaye Jacob, Lt Col (Retd) A. Sekhar, Anirudh Gupta
Sarita Mathur, Kaye Jacob, Lt Col (Retd) A. Sekhar, Anirudh Gupta

Lt Col (Retd) A Sekhar – Principal, Atul Vidyalaya,
Geeta Karunakaran – the Principal of Paul George Global,
K M Thomas – Group Business Head—School and Higher Education, S Chand Publishing,
Lali John – Publishing Head, School Division, S. Chand Publishing


Key points made by each panellist

Moderator: Lt Col (Retd) A Sekhar, Principal, Atul Vidyalaya
Moderator: Lt Col (Retd)
A Sekhar, Principal, Atul Vidyalaya

For this discussion the Moderator, Lt Col (Retd) A Sekhar, Principal, Atul Vidyalaya, introduced the panellists.

The first panellist, Geeta Karunakaran the Principal of Paul George Global, New Delhi, stole the show standing up for print media. She highlighted the advantages of reading printed books over reading books online.She said that we retain knowledge and experiences better through physical interaction. Thumbing through pages, writing notes, and highlighting passages are all central features that give print media the edge.

Print publishing offers vital experiences – flipping pages, folding page corners to earmark favourite articles, finding a topic through index, reading the editorial page, lending or borrowing books. So we still buy books on impulse in the real world and are proud to possess them.

The second panellist, K M Thomas, Group Business Head—School and Higher Education, shared some data on book publishing market:

  1. Indian book market is the 6th largest market in the world, and the second among the English language ones.
  2. Indian book market is growing by 20 per cent every year.

He concluded by saying ‘Books in the Indian context will continue to thrive in the classroom scenario.’

The third panellist, Lali John, Publishing Head, School Division, S. Chand Publishing, also laid emphasis on the advantages of print media. In her words ‘printed books are like blue jeans – different fashions may come and go, but blue jeans stand where they were, intact.’ She concluded by saying that whatever media we use, transmission of knowledge is important. This was followed by a presentation by Mr. Vinay Sharma, Business Head – D S Digital. He spoke about the need of a blend of print and digital. He presented some products of D S Digital which are very useful to learners. Intel tab is one of these products about which he spoke in detail.

Geeta Karunakaran, Lt Col (Retd) A Sekhar, K M Thomas, Lali John
Geeta Karunakaran, Lt Col (Retd) A Sekhar, K M Thomas, Lali John

Dr. Indu Khetarpal – Principal, Salwan Public School, New Delhi,
Rita Wilson – Editor, The Progressive Teacher Magazine,
Amrita Burman – Deputy Director, Sunbeam Group of Educational Institutions, Varanasi,
Susmita Basu – HOD at Quality Assurance and Innovations Department , City Montessori School (CMS) in Lucknow


Key points made by each panellist

Dr. Indu Khetarpal, Principal, Salwan Public School, New Delhi
Dr. Indu Khetarpal, Principal, Salwan
Public School, New Delhi

An institution builder and a natural leader Dr (Mrs) Indu Khetarpal shared her rich experience and take-aways in education from her visit to Finland in 2012. There, a lot of emphasis is laid on trust – among teachers, students and parents, which is one of the take-aways. Teaching is considered the most valued vocation in Finland unlike India. So the training and selection process for teachers is rigorous there.

The first panellist, Rita Wilson, Editor, The Progressive Teacher Magazine, said that Finnish education policies are based on equity, flexibility, creativity, relevance, teacher professionalism and trust but was sceptical about trust in Indian context as trust is something that is associated with honesty and sincerity which is lacking in India. She said teaching is the most sought after and respected job in Finland. Reading, science, and mathematics are important in Finnish education system but so are social studies, arts, music, physical education, and various practical skills.

The second panellist, Amrita Burman, Deputy Director, Sunbeam Group of Educational Institutions, Varanasi, shared her own experiences and take-aways from her visit to Finland, namely –

  1. Finland has free and compulsory education
  2. Each child is given special attention.
  3. Subjects are replaced with topics there
  4. Principals are required to have an added degree in administration
  5. There are localised curricula
  6. There is community involvement in education.

The third panellist, Susmita Basu HOD at Quality Assurance and Innovations Department, City Montessori School (CMS) in Lucknow said children start schooling at the age of seven there when they are mentally and physically prepared. She said that she has started implementing the rigorous training of teachers in her school following the Finnish model.

The Panel Discussions were followed by giving away of Teaching Excellence Awards in eighteen categories. A total of forty-five awards were given away.

Amrita Burman, Dr. Indu Khetarpal, Rita Wilson, Susmita Basu
Amrita Burman, Dr. Indu Khetarpal, Rita Wilson, Susmita Basu

The conclave ended with a vote of thanks by Himanshu Gupta, Managing Director, S Chand Group. He promised to organise more such conclaves in different parts of the country to uphold the work of school teachers Finally, at a lucky draw ten lucky teachers received gifts.
014