Tag Archives: learning

Need a Paradigm Shift

In the budget last year, the central government allocated 42,000 crore rupees to school education. The major part of this allocation is spent on teacher salaries. A World Bank study reveals that on an average 25% teachers are absent every day in government schools and every year, the cost of teacher absenteeism is around 8000 crores rupees to India. Moreover, the size of private coaching industry in India in 2015 was estimated to be around 2.5 lakh crore rupees. In metros, 87% of primary school children and up to 95% secondary school children attend private tutoring. In rural areas, around 30% school children go to paid private tuition. The private school expenditure (by parents) is not even considered here! In spite of all the enormous expenditure, learning still remains an urgent challenge. Pratham’s survey has repeatedly revealed that in rural India, around 50% grade-5 children did not have grade-2 level literacy and numeracy skills.

The demand for school voucher system, where public money directly follows the child rather than schools or teachers, is getting momentum. In the school voucher system, the school that the parents and students choose gets the funding. School vouchers are coupons that can be redeemed for educational services by schools. However, I feel we should go even further by allowing parents to let their children learn anywhere they want. It could be a government school, a private school, a private tuition or it could even be homeschooling. Instead of focusing on every child is actually going to school, the government could focus on ensuring that every child is learning. The government can ensure this by developing and regulating standards to monitor and measure learning. The government can evaluate whether a child has mastered certain concepts and skills in a particular subject. This need not be age or grade specific. For example, a 10-year old girl could very well be at level 5 in Mathematics, at level 3 in Language and at level 7 in Music.

It’s time we shift our paradigm from ‘getting children to school and teaching them at grade level’ to ‘children mastering concepts and skills’. This could also include skills that are currently not in the curriculum.

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सैनिकीकरण आणि शिस्त

मला शाळेमधली गणवेषाची पद्धत खरंच आवडते. समता, एकोपा अशा भावना त्यामुळे वाढीस लागतात. अमेरिकेतल्या शाळेत अशी गणवेष घालायची पद्धत नसली तरी इंग्लंडमधे गणवेष असतो. मात्र ही गणवेषाची परंपरा जपताना इंग्लिश लोकांनी बाकी अवडंबराला फाटा दिला आहे. भारतीय शाळांमध्ये मात्र दिवसेंदिवस शिस्त आणि सैनिकीकरण यांतला फरक समजून घेण्याचा अभाव दिसतो आहे. मुलांनी केस कापले आहेत का, मुलींनी दोन वेण्या घातल्या आहेत का याबाबत अतिशय काटेकोर असण्यात कसली आलीय शिस्त? पूर्वी बांगड्या घालणं, मेंदी लावणं या गोष्टींना फक्त कॉन्व्हेंट शाळांमध्येच (का कोणास ठाऊक) मनाई होती. आता हे लोण इतर शाळांमध्येही पसरत चाललं आहे. ज्या गोष्टी इथल्या संस्कृतीचा भाग आहेत, त्या करण्यात कसला आला आहे शिस्तभंग? बऱ्याच (शहरी) शाळांमध्ये आता मुलांना मारणं, छड्या देणं जरी बंद झालेलं असलं तरी मुलांचा पाणउतारा करणाऱ्या, त्यांना खजील करणाऱ्या शिक्षा सर्रास दिल्या जातात.

खरं तर शिस्त लावणं म्हणजे शिकवणं, शिक्षण देणं. खऱ्या शिस्तीचा मार्ग हा स्वयंशिस्तीकडे नेतो. लहान-सहान गोष्टींसाठी कठोर शिक्षा करून ते साध्य होणार नाही.  शिक्षा टाळण्यासाठी तेवढ्यापुरता नियम पाळला जाईल, पण नियम, कायदे पाळण्याची मानसिकता यातून तयार होणार नाही. आपल्या समाजात किती लोकांना कायदे पाळण्यासाठी आहेत असं वाटतं? किती लोकांचा नियमाप्रमाणे काम करण्याबाबत कटाक्ष असतो? यातल्या बहुतेक लोकांना लहान असताना दरडावून, धमकावून, बळाचा वापर करून घरी आणि शाळेत नियम पाळायला लावले होते. शिक्षा होऊ नये म्हणून त्यांनी ते तेव्हा पाळलेही होते. पण त्यांना खरी शिस्त कधी लागलीच नाही. कारण खरी शिस्त आतून, पटली आहे म्हणून येत असते. आजच्या बहुसंख्य नागरिकांनी लहानपणापासून मारून-मुटकून गोष्टी केल्या, आपण पकडलो जाणार नाही ना, याचीच चिंता केली. सदसद्विवेकबुद्धीला प्रमाण मानून वागायचं शिक्षण मिळालं का?

Learning New Words

Whenever kids come across a new word in the lesson, they note down the meaning of that particular word and move on.  What if they could learn a few more words related to the new word?  For example, the word ‘forelimbs’ would be a pretty good opportunity to teach other allied words like ‘foresee’, ‘forecast’ and ‘foreword’ (and highlight the difference between ‘foreword’ and ‘forward’ too). In future if the kids come across the word ‘foreyard’, they will be able to figure out the meaning by themselves! Not only would they enrich their vocabulary, but also realize where words come from.  Learning new words can be fun.

However, with very demanding timelines to complete the syllabus, do we have enough bandwidth to explore and love the language? Moreover, why bother teaching and learning new words when such aspects of the subject are not part of any exams?