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.

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#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.

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H H Dalai Lama – ‘Love and Compassion make all the difference’

It has always been a pleasure contributing to the spaces where children observe, introspect, participate, engage, discuss, debate and learn. One such movement that I have been part of as a volunteer, contributor and advisor has been ITIHAAS, an endeavor by a team of strong-willed and highly capable youth lead by Smita Vats and Shivani, has been doing a yeoman service for over 15 years now, in the space of Heritage Education for children. The movement now addresses children and institutions in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while children from across the country travel to these states to soak in and also learn the heritage of our rich, composite nation.

dalai_lama_25

There are many initiatives by ITIHAAS, year around, that engage the children, schools and the entire education community not only through their walks but also through facilitation of research in literature, music, traditions, livelihoods that are integral to Heritage.

As part of the latest initiative, first in the series of Changemakers talk, His Holiness Dalai Lama delivered the ITIHAAS ANNUAL ADDRESS to the school fraternity… What an interaction, it was !!  Always a pleasure listening to His Holiness. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with him too. Just observing him silently is good enough to absorb so much about purposefulness towards humanity…

As he was addressing the children, teachers and education community, laced with his inimitable humour, I made it point to tweet whatever I could gather. Here I collate my tweets and share for posterity. Each of the points that he shares are invaluable –

  • Every #child receiving #love, affection, hugs of #parents in #childhood, will grow to be a confident and compassionate adult
  • we, generation of 20th century created a lot of problems, your gen of 21st century, has to solve. Solve Disagreement by talking
  • Young generation, #brothers and #sisters, think how to build a happy and compassionate world, through education and learning
  • Through warm heartedness you will be able to resolve every issue in the world; love, forgiveness will help you to bring peace
  • Anger brings violence; conflicts need to be solved through dialogue; love others and respect them to facilitate. Create peace
  • Non violence, peaceful dialogue by you will create a peaceful and happy family, society and world228
  • #Secular #education needs to include moral #values, ethics; value of warm heartedness makes the difference to humanity
  • fear is part of human being; I train my mind through analytical #meditation; analyse the source of anger; you will solve
  • Positivity begets positivity, creates peace; work towards eliminating negativity; Ahimsa and Karuna can solve all problems
  • without inner #peace we cannot develop world peace? #Trust & #affection will beget happiness & peace at home and society
  • As an youngster, I can contribute to solving every problem with my small actions with awareness; environmental issues, example
  • People’s movement – I must think, I must talk, I must work – our vision, on sharing, can gather mass to bring change
  • All religions, all traditions talk of love, harmony. #India needs to take lead in promoting tolerance, forgiveness and peace
  • Different #religions may have different approaches for different people, but the final purpose is #oneness and #love
  • Be a kind-hearted and #compassionate person. #Education needs to just contribute for this one purpose. That is the basic value
  • I never saw my mother angry. Not just me, she cared for every child ….First teacher of love and compassion is my mother
  • Every teacher has responsibility towards every child.Yr love helps every child understand whatever U impart. Infuses Happiness
  • Secret of my youth. 9 hrs of sleep and rest of 15 hours with peaceful thoughts. Have healthy mind. Smile adds to handsomeness

He also interacted with students by taking their questions and responding. I shall get the complete video across soon…

I have not done justice to this event if I do not speak about the Live painting by Artist Vilas Nayak that mesmerized His Holiness The Dalai Lama Dalai Lama. I consciously did not do, as I felt I need to write a separate story on it. I shall.

 

CORE STANDARDS OF TEACHING, The HINDU column, April 18, 2012 – Sreeni’s quotes appear

As I shared in one of my earlier posts, Teaching – Vision, rationale and personal standards , was my response to a questionnaire sent by THE HINDU for one their articles.

Here is the link to the published one, article online, in The HINDU opportunities page. This article was written by Payal Chanania, of cnkonline, after interviewing a few educationists.

I am including the text version here..

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All teaching is designed towards preparing students for success in such a way that they emerge as responsible and grounded adults of tomorrow. Teachers are the guideposts that show them the way for achieving high-quality paths ahead. But attaining such meaningful development requires educators to hold themselves up to certain definitive standards. This comprises of the basic philosophy underlying their teaching and governing their conduct in the classroom.

What standards do you expect of yourself?

The personal vision or critical rationale that a teacher is committed to achieving is quite difficult to define. The challenge lies in carefully reflecting on and conceiving what you are really committed to (and how).

Most teachers echo that they see themselves as more of facilitators. Mr. Rajiv Sethi (Retd.), PhD Registrar and Professor of Finance, TERI University voices the sentiment, “The first thing I look at is to move away from the traditional role of a teacher – which was to ‘teach’, and move into a slot where I as a teacher, ‘facilitates’ learning.”

Ms. Joy Puvana, Faculty, Business Communication, TalentSprint expands, “The role of a teacher doesn’t consist primarily of lecturing about a specific subject to students who sit in rows at desks, dutifully listening and recording what they hear, but, rather, offer every student a rich, rewarding, and unique learning experience!”

This will prompt a true love for learning in the hearts and minds of the students. But encouraging active learning requires the educator to be equally passionate and committed to the subject, as it proportionately influences student motivation. Students will then be willing to push themselves, explore new dimensions and seek new possibilities. Promoting critical thinking and problem-solving is considered imperative as well.

Helping students identify and explore their passions so as to find what they truly love doing is next on the list. In the words of Mr. R. Srinivasan, Co-Founder, CL Educate Ltd. and Director – Indus World School of Business, “It is all about enabling an individual to set goals for oneself and chasing them. Once that happens, everything else will fall in place!”

Imparting true understanding of the subject is an important teaching standard. Prof. R. Dheenadayalu, Dean (ICT), Saveetha Engineering College, says, “My personal vision is that every student understands the topic clearly and should be able to apply that when he encounters a problem.” Even Mr. Ishan Gupta, Founder and CEO, Edukart.com agrees, “We aspire to make our participants understand the concepts of the subject and also imbibe experiential learning.” Mr. Sethi especially mentions, “I should be able to connect new knowledge to today’s context, so as to be able to pass-on a better understanding to the students.
I must be able to foster cross-disciplinary learning, so that the students can understand the nuances of every aspect of a problem and can then approach the problem in a holistic manner.”

Teachers also wish to build an engaging and joyful classroom atmosphere as it helps students truly understand and learn. Accordingly, they should draw on their expertise and aspire to make their subject matter as meaningful as possible.

Developing good ethics and values is considered important as well. This calls on teachers to highlight the importance of hard work, perseverance, honesty, integrity, courage in the face of adversity and so on as the ultimate path leading to true success.

The importance of fostering a collaborative, interactive and supportive environment is not overlooked either.

Incorporating a variety of instructional strategies deserves a special mention as it enables teachers to easily adapt to diverse learning styles of the students.
“Although there is no ‘right’ method for teaching a particular lesson, but a teacher should be efficient enough to choose the right instructional method depending upon concept, context, topic and needs of learner”, so says Mrs. Meenal Arora, Executive Director, Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools.

Putting the standards to work

To achieve these teaching standards, educators have to model the expectations. Mr. Srinivasan explains, “I create experiences in the learning environment that enables learners to realise and comprehend the concepts through experiential learning, more than the theoretical lectures of the concepts.
So, for me, learning is bottom-up.”

Even for Ms. Puvana, “Constructivism approach to teaching is best – activities that encourage students to construct pieces of learning by themselves.” Mr. Sethi feels, “By moving away from just classroom lectures, to much more of classroom discussions and assignments which stimulate critical thinking. By moving away from rote learning to learning from role-plays where one gets a chance to explore one’s own knowledge, what one lacks, and what needs to be learnt to be able to meet the challenges ahead.” Believing in the students’ abilities while providing due support and encouragement is also important. When it comes to evaluating whether one has really accomplished the standards, Ms. Puvana offers, “I would like to evaluate my success not only by the student’s scores, but also by their progress in their lives and careers!”

For Mrs. Arora, “The result of a teacher’s efforts is visible in the accomplishment of her students. If a child has understood and inculcated the subject and values being taught by the teacher, she would surely demonstrate a positive change in thinking and behaviour.”

To sum up, teachers play a very strong influence in students’ lives. But the core effectiveness of the teaching community does not rest only in their knowledge of the subject but also encompasses the overall standards, characteristics and behaviour when they actually teach!

Wonderful Mentor’s day

Starting with waking up at 4:30am and rushing to the station pillion riding on a 2-wheeler early morning at 5am, it was a great beginning for an exciting day that was in store for me. It started pouring mid-way to station. Drenched, entered the station, bought the ticket from Durg to Raipur, an hour away. By the time train left at 6:25, I was reasonably dry and noticed young boys and girls entering the train. In a while, four of them joined my cubicle and started discussing about their subjects. Realized that they were engineering grads discussion digital electronics. On inquiring, found out that they were second year students from NIT Raipur. I borrowed the book and browsed through, as I was not able to really figure out Karnaugh Map etc that I studied way back in 1986, a good quarter century ago! It was fun interacting with the youngsters. I realized that half of the train was heading to NIT Raipur from Bhilai!!

After an adventurous ride, got to Indus World School, Raipur and was delighted to see the excitement among the young students who are waiting to treat their mentors on the occasion of Teacher’s day. The whole day then on was full of surprises with children and mentors singing songs together, the mentors dancing to the music selected by the children, an audio visual of all the mentors with an interesting backgournd music, all the way cheered by students and mentors alike.

In the afternoon, all mentors were treated to a surprise lunch at Magneto mall and it was a gala affair worth witnessing with groups of mentors running around the food joints around the court to get their favourite dishes, but eventually every one grabbing from every other plate. They almost tasted all that the food court had to offer! They were no better than kids!

The final stretch of one hour in the electronic games arena witnessed a complete pell-mell with every mentor trying to play every game and a few hard fought competitions too. Children if were around would have chuckled all the way and may even shared that ‘we are better’!

Raj, the principal, acknowledged every one by giving away token appreciation to one and all for contributing to the journey of the school. Finally Raj took pains to see me off at the airport.

To my utter surprise, I watched Kiranji, founder of SPICMACAY and a couple of more elderly volunteers entering the security area ahead of me. They too were surprised by my arrival. I admire this gentleman, Kiranji, who has given his precious life for the cause of spreading culture among the youth along with the band of dedicated volunteers. They were heading back from Chattisgarh state convention, that I missed by a couple of hours. Kiranji shared with me the developments and how the whole state – Governor, CM and ministers all laid red carpet for SPICMACAY and the promise that the future holds.. I loved the interaction, as Kiranji emphasised that we will have to grow 10 folds this year and only way to do it is to push state governments to work towards reaching out at least 5000 government schools this year. I was taken in by the enthusiasm and the passion of this 60 year young gentleman.

While standing in the queue to get out of the waiting lounge to board the flight, I noticed a very familiar face being checked by the security. I smiled at him and he too acknowledged. Once he collected his hand baggage, he walked towards me and I confessed to him that he was very familiar and wanted to know whether he is Mr. Binayak Sen, the civil liberty activist. He said ‘yes’. I was humbled by this gentleman walking all the way and asking me who I was and what I was in Raipur for, just because I smiled at him from a good fifteen feet. We had a short chat as he was heading to Kolkata and my flight to Delhi was boarding. He shared his contact details with a promise that we will be in touch with.

On reaching Delhi, I paid my humble tribute to my gurus, Kiranji and other elders by dropping them at their respective stations and homes and felt very good about my small contribution to the cause of mentors this day.

I want to say a big thanks to all mentors in my life, gurus, teachers in various schools and mentors, young and old, each one has contributed to what I am today. Love you all. mmmmch..

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