Towards better learning!


Ranjana Mandan
Principal, Lalji Mehrotra Lions School, Ahmedabad

Students have the coffers of imagination, vision and inventiveness. Our primary responsibility is to design our curriculum in such a way that it caters the need of individual. Personalized approach towards learning along with hands-on training and practical knowledge would enable the learners to be self-motivated and learn at their own pace.

Learning is getting increasingly informalized. There is strong evidence of effective and personalized learning beyond the schools. Here, Ranjan Mandan, Principal, Lalji Mehrotra Lions School, Ahmedabad shares her views on the same.

TPS: Do you think our current policies and curricular approaches should give more room for creativity and innovation through such informal and personalized approaches to learning rather than hierarchical approaches delivered from ivory towers?

Ranjana: In today’s era, the process of learning has no doubt acquired new dimensions. It is not confined to the boundaries of the school but has expanded far and wide. In this rapid growing world, we have to ensure that we equip our students to cope up with the milieu. For that our educational policies and curriculum should reinforce creativity and innovation through informal and personalized approaches. We, as educators have to customize the learning procedures where students can put forth their creativity. Students should be more exposed to critical thinking, creative thinking, problem and project based learning, civic and visual literacy etc.

Our students have the coffers of imagination, vision and inventiveness. Being aware about it, our primary responsibility is to design our curriculum in such a way that it caters the need of individual. Personalized approach towards learning along with hands-on training and practical knowledge would enable the learners to be self-motivated and learn at their own pace.

TPS: Subjects like financial literacy, eco-system management, health management, safety and security systems, hospitality management and several other service-based areas of employment call for preparation of learners with differentiated focus. What are your views?

Ranjana: I believe that fundamental eligibility to pursue any career is – Intention, Interest and Imagination. No doubt, the acquaintance of the above mentioned subjects is the need of the hour. I strongly feel that our current education system is degree based rather than skill oriented. With the colossal advancement in technology and a gradual change in the mentality of parents, students are exposed to different unique professions. At this juncture, introduction to these subjects seems to be exigent. It would open the floodgate of the wide variety of professions in the future. The introduction of these subjects would help the students come out of disillusionment and break the stereotype.

TPS: With greater access to information flow and technology enabled learning, the concept and the role of school libraries need to change. It is felt that the libraries should facilitate research-orientation, extended learning and help in wider knowledge assimilation. How do you think these goals can be achieved in a school?

Ranjana: It is rightly said that libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination of an individual. The library is an integral and vital part of the school. The access to technology has gained momentum in the present time; jeopardizing the viability of the libraries. But still we cannot deny the importance and relevance of books too. Here, I feel that the schools really need to reform and transform their school libraries in a way as to make it relevant in changing the education system.

A school library can facilitate:

  • Different kinds of books, encyclopaedias, diaries, resource/reference etc. of student’s interest in English, Hindi and regional languages.
  • It should have the means to promote research and detailed understanding of the subject. It should have wide knowledge assimilation.
  • It should cater for differences in learning and teaching styles through the provision and equality of access to, a wide range of curriculum resources — fiction and non-fiction, digital, print, audio and video.
  • Provide teachers and students with access to relevant curriculum information and professional development materials within and outside the school.
  • It should have an integrated ICT suite to compliment the research activities. The fully networked computers with appropriate research based software and high speed internet access should be available for teachers and students to use.

The above mentioned criteria can be easily achieved by a school library to make a place full of wonders for the students. They should be made aware of utilization of benefits of different facilities of the library for their maximum advantage.

TPS: The learning curve of a cohort of learners is not the same as it was a few decades ago. The current patterns of learning curve call for re-engineering learning through unlearning and relearning. How do you think the schools can facilitate the idea of ‘learning to learn’ rather than focusing on the listed concepts of disciplines?

Ranjana: In present education system, teacher’s role is of ‘Facilitator’ who make the environment conducive for learning. To better understand the term ‘learning to learn,’ let us understand unlearning and relearning. Considering the present curriculum, there are many concepts and theories which learners are unable to comprehend but just in order to score good marks, they mug them up. Unlearning means to forget all the mugged-up concepts and relearning means practically try those concepts and then learn them which will be long lasting. And obviously when learners are trying to learn something by experimenting, they will be self-motivated and confident which actually means ‘learning to learn.’

The schools can play a dynamic role in facilitating the idea of learning to learn. The curriculum should be planned in such a way that the new and contemporary methods of learning are integrated with the tested and proven methods to provide the best results. The curriculum must aid the changing trends and expertise. It should be able to adapt to the new changing patterns. It should also cater to the different learning styles of the students rather than focusing on listed concepts of disciplines.

TPS: Learning and culture have strong interconnect. Learning about cultures presently occurs mostly through hidden curriculum and in a slow manner. Do you think that the school should focus on giving greater thrust on the heritage and culture to empower children develop a deep sense of nationalism and constitutional values?

Ranjana: British Scientist Gregory Bateson once said, “In the transmission of human culture, people always attempt to replicate, to pass on to the next generation the skills and values of the parents, but the attempt always fails because the cultural transmission is geared to learning, not DNA.” There is no reservation that learning and culture have a resilient connection. A school is place where focus can be given to enhance learning of heritage and culture. Celebration of National festivals develop the feeling of nationalism amongst the students. Activities like Mock Parliament, elections for Students Council etc. can be organized so that students develop love and respect for their motherland. After all, a nation is not known by its boundaries but by its rich cultural heritage which can be instilled in the young generation in the school.

Ranjana Mandan, Principal, Lalji Mehrotra Lions School, Ahmedabad, is B.Sc., M.A.(Sociology), M.Ed.Ranjana has been in the field of education for almost 25 years. She has a passion for experimenting with new ideas in teaching methodology and learning objectives. She strongly recommends that the collaborative leadership provides impetus to the growth of any institution. Practical and positive in her approach, she always finds solutions to the gravest of the problems. “We are here to make a difference” – with this motto, she tirelessly works for the growth of the institution. She believes that “Each child is unique” and it is always the combined efforts of the parents and the school that metamorphose the child into a better citizen of tomorrow.