Classroom Expectations: Positive management for the productive growth of students

I got a questionnaire from edinbox.com to respond to. Though the brief is to write answers in a couple of sentences for each issue/question raised, I feel unless we do not understand the very evolution of a human being, cognitively and behaviorally, we cannot find solutions to any of the issues raised here. Hence, I am giving the context before I address each of the concerns raised in the questionnaire. My answers for each of these questions could be dramatically in variance with the conventional wisdom that is prevalent around most adults. Whatever I am sharing here is an outcome of over two-decades of hands-on experience of being with children and young-adults, setting up schools, creating learning environments there in; and also seeing over a couple lakh students excel in career and life. Quite a few of those grown up adults bring their children to us, to seek help now!

Phases of learning in the evolution of a human being.

Phases of learning in the evolution of a human being.

Fig 1. Evolution of the human being, cognitively speaking.

 

The above conceptual framework is self-explanatory. Various empirical studies observed that the rate of cognitive evolution is exponential in the first eight years of life, reaching almost to 90% of that of an adult; about 80% by the age of three. We have been using the above nomenclature – Ananda, Jigyasa and Sadhana – in our language for almost two decades now. They evolved over a few years of observing and introspecting as the children evolved.

 

  1. A child in the initial phase of one’s early childhood evolution, Ananda, involves all senses in absorbing one’s context. The slate in the early phase is clean. It is all about joy of discovering the contextual existence. The child is like a sponge, soaking everything that exists in the immediate environment. It is incumbent upon the adult around her – a parent, grand-parent, family or a teacher, the school – how rich we can make the immediate contextual environment forthe child to thrive. Learning happens at a pace unimaginable, all without any agenda. (The Howard Gardner’s Multiple intelligences is in full bloom – kindly google to understand this concept of Multiple Intelligences)

 

  1. The primary and middle school years – age 8-14 – Jigyasa phase, is all about observation, introspection, analysis, synthesis to consolidate thus far imbibed experiences, into a solid knowledge through active questioning and embarking on finding answers to those questions through further experimentation and exploration. Greater the exposure, the higher is the learning. So as an adult in the environment, a parent can help the child experience a variety of spaces and activities in the arenas of all intelligences. During this period, a lot of likes, affinities, interests develop in every child that may start shaping the thought process that eventually may play an important role in choice-making and decision-making, about what one wants to pursue in career and life.

 

  1. If the adults at home and school have been taking note of the likes and affinities that are evolving in the Jigyasa phase, one can proactively facilitate the child to make well informed choices by exposing the child to a variety of literatures, activities, events, people of eminence etc. so that the child will listen, engage, interact and evolve. As the child moves to higher classes the family and school can facilitate the access to all the avenues that can shape a child’s chosen area of interest, probably positively impacting the career too.

Now I would like to answer the following questions with the above frame work as a reference. I also need to add here that I have clubbed questions together, where I have found them to be closely related, and I shall addressthem in a logical way.

What should be an expectation level of a teacher or a parent from the student?

  • One of the secrets to bring about the expected outcomes from a child is to be EMPATHETIC first. Talk to a child the way you would talk to an adult, in calm, eager and understanding way. As I said, the cognitive evolution of a child is almost that of an adult beyond age three. So, keep your emotions at bay.
  • The first requirement of an institution – family or school – is to take responsibility upon oneself to create age appropriate learning environment and experiences even before they have expectations from the child.
  • So, my expectation is directed more towards the adults in the child’s context, asking, what exciting environment have you created for the child to explore, experiment and learn.
    • Can I be with the child, whenever I feel the child is struggling? Can I walk with the child and not just talk?What inspires the child is your walk, and not the talk!!
    • Everything boils down to a good, open communication with the child. Only when the child feels that you are understanding, will the child be open to hear and see your perspective.

Does over expectation from a bright child deteriorate his performance and self-esteem?How behaviour of a student can be modified with simple learning and how can we help him in developing his self-esteem?What are the methods to develop behaviour modification among students?How to motivate a child to perform better in the class?

    • The secret, as I shared, is open communication and facilitation. Understanding the child, in the given context, is paramount. Help the child gain confidence to be open with you, to share her fears and needs.
    • An adult should not talk from 6ft. Get down to the child’s level. That means, your eyes and that of the child must be at the same level! Make the child feel that you are her friend and facilitator.
    • Every child is unique and let us not compare one with the other. Acknowledging the child’s interests, way of thinking, strengths, weaknesses and evencurrent  prioritiesis very important. Being open is the key. That is the only way to stoke self-esteem. Every positive thing we say or do, adds to her self-esteem.
    • First,believe and help yourself to help the child understand that he or she is good enough; and it is just a question of getting more comfortable in the subject or topic or issue that we are concerned about, and give a message that by understanding the concepts and practicing more she would be good. And that you are with her in the process. Walk, walk, walk with the child, do not talk.
    • I have seen the transformation in many a child, including my daughters. Building trust and stoking the self-belief is the key.

Is there a model or a technique to deal with discipline referrals?

  • Most of the root causes of the discipline issues emerge from the child’s immediate environment. The behavior of the child has its origin in the way an adult or two is behaving in the child’s environment – How is the adult dealing with the child. The adult’s ‘walk’ may be inducing the behavior.
  • For instance, if the child is very energetic and active in the school, then you may soon realize that his energy does not find any vent at home. His home environment could be highly restrained and over disciplined. And that pent-up energy finds a volcanic outlet in the school. Similarly, a child shouted at or abused at home, may vent his frustration at his fellow learners in school.
  • My questions for institutions, are, “How open are we to integrating homes with school? How much do we know about the child’s home environment? How much of interaction between the school and home have we institutionalized beyond the formality of PTM (parents teacher meeting which most of the times is unwelcoming for the schools. It is just an item in the check-list)
  • When the home and institution will be seamless, most of the behavioral deviancies will be easily taken care of. In the technology-enabled world of today, institutions can really create that seamless communication channels to bridge to two.
  • Even after having amazingly cordial and proactive engagement with home, if we find the child’s behavior still beyond our capability, then we need to seek the help of a psychologist/specialists in diagnosing any other eventuality, like ADHD etc.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) affects the child’s ability to focus and control his behaviour. What steps to be taken to address the children suffering from ADD?

    • ADHD is the term that we usually use for affected children and adolescents, while ADD is used for adults. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children, more prevalent in boys than in girls; diagnosed based on the child’s symptoms and behavior.
    • Inattentiveness, impulsiveness or hyperactivity are the symptoms of a child with ADHD. It is a genetic-disorder and child has no role to play in acquiring it; one of the parents has contributed to the cause. Brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, don’t work the same in children with ADHD; Certain areas in the brain may be smaller or even less active in children with ADHD than those without the disorder. Most of the times, a parent feels guilty of even acknowledging the presence of ADHD, especially do to the social stigma it may carry. Hence, we as adults, both teachers and parents need to be proactive, yet very patient in dealing with the child.
    • Timely diagnosis is very important. If not treated in time, ADHD continues into adulthood. However, by understanding the child, working on and channelizing his strengths, facilitating a conducive environment, and using medication timely, a childwith ADHD can grow into a responsible and productive adult who is socially invaluable.

 

How show we improve the school environment so that it helps students to perform better?What are the key points to be kept in mind which helps in developing a cordial environment for students and teachers?How can a teacher build an environment that can help students struggling with serious academic deficiencies, lack of support, language barrier, or any other challenges?

 

    • Most of the times I see the really issue lies with institutions – School and Homes – and adults within. I measure the adults by exploring their attitude towards these three questions –
      • Do your really love children?
      • Do you love learning?
      • Are you excited about creating rich, stimulating learning environments and experiences?
    • We need to understand that the institution exists for the child and need to bring about changes in our environment and the way we conduct ourselves and our learning processes
    • As Charles Darwin says, the human being as an organism is programmed to thrive – survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, we adults control the environment, at home or school, in such a way that the brilliant mind, amazing body and soul is not excited to flourish. We shackle the being.
    • It is very important that the learning environment, pedagogy and engagement be conducive with the evolutionary phases of a human being that is illustrated in Fig. 1 above. The coordination of the school and home, along with the curriculum engagement need to be rich and stimulating. Homes need to help the child experience the real world beyond the classrooms and curriculum. Parents must be thinkers and doers. Expose the child to experiences in every dimension of intelligences that Howard Gardner talks about.
    • Does the outside world come into your classrooms? Do your classrooms go to the outside world? If the answers these questions isin affirmative, soon we would have found solutions to all challenges.
Evolving child being facilitate by family, school and the experiences in the world

Evolving child being facilitate by family, school and the experiences in the world

Hope, I have been able to address all the issues raised in the questionnaire. I apologize for writing a lengthy article to address your questions. I strongly believe, there is no short-cut to facilitate a parent, teacher or institutions toenable every child that is playing in our aangans, corridors or classrooms.

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Education Reforms: Curricula, Teachers, Parents, Children – Itihaas Annual Summit

Yesterday was a very insightful, introspective and compelling morning, being at the ITIHAAS’ 9th Annual Summit of Teachers and Educationists. Over 250 of them congregated in this annual immersion from across the country. Prof Poonam Batra, an eminent professor who has contributed immensely to the education space in the country, and Ms Prachi Agarval, noted developmental psychologist were the first ones to address the esteemed audience on the issue of, “Teachers and Curricula in the times of Educational Reforms”

It was a pleasure listening to Prof Poonam Batra of Delhi University on the shifts in the outlook towards education as the nation went on a roller-coaster ride that the ruling dispensations took the nation through, with their concept of nation and nationalism, paradigms of developmental economics, notions of secularism and tolerance! Here are a few of the salient points I managed to capture and tweeted live too.

Prof. #PoonamBatra #Teachers&CurriculaInEducationalReforms @ITIHAASKiBaat

  • Teachers have become one of the most marginalized, in a society that is hierarchical! #EducationalReforms are driven by #EconomicReforms. what are the #HumanIndicators? #Health #Education sliding further
  • #Teachers are catalysts in societal transformation. But #liberalization made the schools a market place #lessonplans, #studentprojects are being bought! #Teachers become #laborers #corporates who don’t understand #children and #education are packaging
  • #EducationPolicy is being pushed by #VentureCapitalists. #Teachers are no where in deciding what, why, when, where and how of #curriculum. #market has taken over #love, #affection too. Where is #Education? Where is development of #people?
  • We are focusing on #learningOutcome than #LearningExperiences #joy #child #Centricity has vanished! #Education has to be contextual, you cannot have global uniformity. Marginalization of #knowledge #context of course #Teachers.
  • #Child-centred vs #Discipline, #traditional vs #modern, why do we see only #polarity? Best way to learn is to have a non-threatening environment? Freedom means free to make mistakes, air opinions! Children observes your walk, do not talk!

Here are few points that I captured from Prachi’s sharings – @PrachiAgarval

  • Why do we go to #school? How many of us as #Teachers promote #questioning? Do we help the child to #realize his #potential? #developmental #relationship
  • Are we listening, understanding children? Are we co-creating? are we making children comfortable in committing mistakes? Helping them be compassionate? how many of us use our potential? How will we help children unearth theirs? #ExpressCare belonging, #ChallengeGrowth

Singers from TONK who have been championing the cause of education in country side, championed by dear friend Amir Abidi and his movement. The audience had the privilege of listening them.

I had short engaging interaction with the audience on  “#Perspectives, in the rapidly changing #world”.

Thanks to my dear friend Manohar Khushalani, an eminent theater personality and a Professor at IIIT Delhi, who went live on FACEBOOK while I was engaging the keenly learning facilitators and mentors in the auditorium.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmanohar.khushalani%2Fvideos%2F10155891765792943%2F&show_text=0&width=267

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmanohar.khushalani%2Fvideos%2F10155891777857943%2F&show_text=0&width=267

#Education is so much more! It is not about syllabus and marks for sure!

I am summing up the three things that any #educationist or #institution should strive to facilitate in a #child………………………..

1. Desire to #learn, through life: Life-long #learner
2. Have #courage to push boundaries: #Discover more of self. Dare to make #mistakes.
3. Be #humble whatever you achieve: #humility

These will not only help one in the changing times, but also #facilitate one ride the #change. Be the #master of your journey and destiny. Be the #change-maker. #Impact the #world.

#Shivani  of @ITIHAASKiBaat nicely summed up. If you do not know #where you are #coming from; if you do not take pride in who you are,  #why and #How will you know where you want to go? Do we facilitate #integrity #compassion #courage #humility?

Smita Vats, the founder of ITIHAAS concluded in her inimitable style, exhorting the teachers to create their own stories that they and also the society will be proud of, and also facilitate children in a manner that their stories too become legends.

Wake up India! we have so much to do…. Happy Self-Realization Day!

Happy Republic Day to every Indian; May this dawn usher in more responsibility/ accountability among each one of us, especially politicians!

– Giving women at home respect and empowering them, to empower the family, home, society and the nation : I always felt and experienced that a home progresses only when the women at home are respected and empowered. Every generation owes a lot to mother, predominantly, where it takes off from and where it reaches..

– Helping every individual around us to be self-reliant, thereby making nation bereft of poverty : Can I really touch and enable people and their families, who are in touch with us every day. Can I educate every child around me and make the environment exciting for learning thereby making every human being be judicious and take decisions for one self.

– Being honest in every thing I do. Enabling every human being to be honest and empathize with the fellow being. I humbly try to do this. Yes, still a long way to go. I need more patience and more empathy to invest more time.

– Being more disciplined, in my life – at home, my work, and more importantly whenever I am stepping out of home and do things that has impact on happenings around me – on the road, public behavior, taking care of the surroundings…. the list is endless

– Last but not the least, standing up and being upright, not paying bribe and not letting one take bribe. making the nation corruption free..

Happy Self-realization day !  Awakening the self !

Love… mmmch.

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