Summoning Educational Equity

 

Envisage a typical classroom scenario. While everything is perfectly positioned as expected, the major missing aspect is a ‘Teacher’. Yet the students of a government school in Zazam near the Greater Rann of Kutch are not deterred from opening their books to study, expectantly waiting for a teacher. And the teacher does show up. Only it’s through a well-mounted TV. The students have noteworthily been taking their lessons through what’s famously called the ‘Idiot Box’. This innovative experiment is the brainchild of Maulik Patel working with Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training.  As a part of his experiment, he has reportedly installed TVs as teachers in 4 government schools where two-thirds of primary teachers’ positions are lying vacant leading to high-drop out rates. Consequently, the TV has triumphantly caught attention of students who have started reappearing in the schools again. The schools engage in methods like recording reading and singing which are aired in class TV. This situation strikingly points out the wonders that technology can bring to the fore in Indian Education. It also leads to another assertion that the grasp of ICT in rural Indian education if broadened, can compensate for many lacking factors. A recent HT report paints a dismal picture of the teaching sector in Rural India. In 2010, Kapil Sibal reported that India was short of 12 lakh teachers.

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The ‘Wh- question’

A research study by Sugata Mitra has considered school achievements as a consequence of use of ICT. There was a comparitive study of the results obtained in remote schools with an affluent private school. The sheer difference is appalling as the private school led with a score of 93% while the rural schools fared far behind with 63%. IMG_20140928_223809 The study further explained that teacher motivation hugely affected the educational quality as teachers in 11 out of 16 rural schools were inclined to move to an urban centre on account of better amenities and pay scale. And hence they were unmotivated to work in rural areas. This is where, E-learning can aid. Educational technology that specifically enable the learners to constructively self-learn and accomplish educational objectives without a teacher’s assistance should be introduced because it is remote areas that pervade the bottom of the pyramid. Hence, it is only at such places that alternative learning methods may work wonders in fixing the quality of education. One impressive instance of this perspective will be ‘The-Hole-in-the-Wall’ experiment (Minimally Invasive Education or MIE) by Sugata Mitra which has gained widespread  recognition. Given the advent of swanky laptops, tablets and interactive whiteboards in urban schools, government has been gradually inching towards attaining comprehensive E-learning by taking in its stride various initiatives. For instance, the ‘Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) initiative’ in Andhra Pradesh boasts of creating computer awareness by connecting learning with multimedia. It’s also known as the ‘1000 School Computerisation Project’.Teacher training has been imparted through the MANA TV Ku-Band channel. Around 19,199 government schools have been provided TV sets. Based on similar lines, Caltoonz CAL Project in Delhi and Head-Start in Madhya-Pradesh attempt to innovatively shape up use of multimedia learning. The most important benchmark has however been EDUSAT which was aimed at developing the rural population. It seeks to make up for the dearth of good teachers by connecting classrooms far away. Thus, Tele-education is on high demand today, as it forms a nexus between technological literacy in education and distance mode of education. This can also facilitate teacher capacity building. Teacher quality is another aspect that suffers gravely in many schools. E-Learning has an efficient solution for it in the form of MOOC. Massive Open Online Courses are a lot in demand today because  its easy accessibility, time and cost efficiency makes it affable in nature. And the influence of MOOCs have been so remarkable that even PM Narendra Modi has patronised its advent through SWAYAM – India’s official MOOC platform. Coursera, for instance provides many interesting courses for teacher professional development ranging from ‘Foundations of Teaching’ to ‘Handling difficulties in learning’. MOOCs are seemingly easy as you can access it anywhere and self-learn. It’s a Revolution in itself that has made global classroom a reality. The National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) is a government initiative that provides Digital resources. With around 13,773 registered users, the portal has reportedly already accounted for more than 45 lakh hits. Education Collaboration Network (ECN) seems to be a promising concept for teacher development through multiple resources. You can read more on it here. In alignment with government initiatives, the corporate sector can also magnanimously help in this regard thus simultaneously satisfying their Corporate Social Responsibilities as has been seen in the past with applaudable initiatives taken by Microsoft with ‘Jyoti’ project, Nokia with ‘Helping Hands’, NIIT with ‘MIE’ , etc CSR has continued to positively impact education today. Samsung has recently inaugurated a ‘Samsung Smart School’ in Baidpura and is setting up 140 Smart Schools across the country. The ‘Learn Out of the Box’ initiative by Vodafone India in partnership with Pratham aims to digitalize classrooms in 151 locations around India. Regardless of all these applaudable initiatives, the grim facts reported by ASER and PISA cannot be ignored. While on one hand, India has fared badly in Pisa, Finland has consistently been the top scorer.

PISA+India+Bottom

Why is Finland considered to be one of the best Educational Systems in the World?

According to a CNN report, Finland attributes increasing importance to strengthened educational equity. Teaching is the most desired profession here and a child’s socioeconomic background holds minimal impediment to academic performance. While this can be a tough game in a huge democracy like India, implementation of certain measures can certainly be ensured for qualitative enhancement. Why should technology be restricted to the affluent private schools only? Why can’t there be an educational equity in the technological aspect with the involvement of the disadvantaged schools too? A question that has to be reflected upon. According to Todd Oppenheimer , ‘Having Computer and Technology in the classroom will not only have a tremendous impact on the students but can also be effective in learning and teaching’. E-learning is definitely the need of the hour. Students will be inclined to return to schools. Drop-out rates will fall. Teachers would have an efficient teaching process with multiple resources at disposal.

Sources – http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-s–missing-teachers/article1-1269290.aspx

http://www.teachersastransformers.org/news-detail/1

http://www.teachersastransformers.org/upload/resource_doc/shiksha-sangam.pdf

Sahlberg: Why Finland’s schools are top-notch – http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/06/opinion/sahlberg-finland-education/

 

Moulding Minds, Moulding Lives

CASER

TRIPTI SAUN

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It was the class of 2007. I vividly remember the picture of a tall, lean man over-powering the class of around 60, not only with his loud and clear voice but also with a teaching technique that got us wide-eyed.

It was a pleasant surprise to learn politics with the help of Bob Dylan songs played on an old tape-recorder. Such was the genius of Sudhakar Sir from Wilson College, Mumbai that we always had something interesting to learn in every lecture he conducted. That was the day I had my first brush with a class where a simple form of technology could be used in such an innovative way.

I was fortunate enough, to further meet Cynthia Ma’am from Pushpanjali college, Vasai. I realised what being a teacher truly meant, and she always motivated me to the core with her well-organised, detailed and creative teaching. She explicitly…

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Treasure Hunt

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Hunting the internet, I came across a helpful website which can really be precious for educators. ‘Teachers of India’ is an impressive initiative of ‘Azim Premji Foundation’.

How does it work?
Teachers from all over upload their teaching resources thus leading to the formation of a network  along with an interesting treasure of teaching learning tools.  You just need to register there and lo and behold! You would be  exposed to wonderful resources dealing in teacher development, classroom resources, news and events related to education and periodicals.

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The well-organised and comprehensive page makes it very engaging. For example when you click on ‘Teacher’s development’, you can choose the type of the resource you want to view  and the subject you are interested in.  The resources are also available depending on the classes.

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There is a facility for contributing a resource where you can upload your files and let the others know about your talent. And besides English, you can also view the page in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi.

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Isn’t it interesting?

You can view it here.

I particularly loved the powerpoint presentation on Chipko Movement by Sriparna Tamhane.

The onset of technology has ostensibly made the globe akin to a small magical village where gems of knowledge on any field are at one’s disposal just at the click of a button. Hence, it won’t surprise me if the future looks something like this –

google 2084 (1)

                                                                                                            http://bit.ly/17bls6Q

Just a Bad-day meal

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http://bit.ly/1bkCxAV

A satirical and hilarious article by the witty Manas Chakravarty is exactly what one needs at the advent of the Mid-Day meal scheme fiasco. 
And yes, as always it is the teacher who has to bear the brunt of it all (this and the rest) in the end. 

Interviewer 1: So you want to apply for the post of senior teacher at our school?

Teacher: Yes, sir.

Interviewer 2: What makes you think you can do the job?

Teacher: 
I am an MSc in Maths, I’ve done my Masters in Education, I have a special certificate for teaching information technology, I’ve written a book on Teaching Aids for Differential Calculus. Plus I have 25 years of teaching experience.

Interviewer 2: 
All that is fine, but can you cook?

Teacher: Eh? Oh my family loves my dim sum.

Interviewer 2: 
Not Chinese. I mean dal chawal, halwa, chana.

Teacher: 
Oh, I do cook those too sometimes.

Interviewer 1: 
Have you ever cooked on a mass scale, say for 300 kids or so?

Teacher: 
I’m afraid not, sir.

Interviewer 1: 
How much semolina would you require to make halwa for 500 kids aged 6 to 12?

Teacher: 
I really couldn’t say, sir.

Interviewer 2: 
Let us move on to academics. What is campylobacter jejuni?

Teacher: 
I don’t know, sir.

Interviewer 2: 
It is a curved, helical-shaped, non-spore-forming, microaerophilic bacteria, one of the most common causes of gastro-enteritis.

Teacher: 
Oh, but I’m a maths teacher.

Interviewer 3: 
So what? Don’t you have to protect food from bacteria?

Interviewer 2:
 Are you an expert in pest control?

Teacher:
 I honestly don’t think any child, even the worst, is a pest.

Interviewer 2:
 No, no. I was talking of real pests — cockroaches, rats.

Teacher:
 I’m actually rather scared of them.

Interviewer 1:
 Perhaps lizards are more in your line?

Teacher:
 Eh?

Interviewer 2:
 What is the best way to exterminate lizards?

Teacher:
 Well, they do say an asteroid collision with earth wiped out all the dinosaurs.

Interviewer 2:
 I’m asking about lizards in kitchens.

Interviewer 1:
 Can’t really count on asteroids destroying them, you know.

Teacher:
 I don’t know much about lizards.

Interviewer 3: 
Have you attended any courses on HACCP certification?

Teacher:
 What?

Interviewer 3:
 It’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, the international food safety certification programme. Funny you don’t know it.

Interviewer 1:
 What is the best way of sanitising utensils?

Teacher:
 Er…wash them, I guess.

Interviewer 3:
 Wash them with Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, not too much, just the right quantity.

Teacher:
 Ah.

Interviewer 1:
 Have you any experience of being a food taster?

Teacher:
 You mean, like the ones ancient kings had?

Interviewer 2:
 Also heads of State, heads of the mafia, other big shots.

Teacher
: Thankfully, no.

Interviewer 1:
 You do have medical insurance?

Teacher:
 No, sir.

Interviewer 2:
 What? Do you expect us to pay your bills if you fall ill after tasting mid-day meals?

Interviewer 1:
 How on earth, madam, do you expect us to appoint you as a teacher when you can’t cook or supervise cooks, have no knowledge of bacterial infections, no experience of pest control, are unfamiliar with food safety rules and haven’t done any food tasting? How will you supervise the mid-day meal scheme? Frankly, I’m amazed you applied for the post.

http://bit.ly/17BgZJL

When the sun smiles back at you..

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courtesy – http://bit.ly/taheQk

When the sun smiles back
all lovely yellow and bright,
I smile eternal.

Sometimes when I brood and reminisce, which I do a lot, about my first ever culminating teaching experience..a blurry yet nostalgic image of a class of 73 young, 12 somethings emerges before me. That’s VI A for me! My first ever class which was pretty notorious for nurturing some of the naughtiest kids in the school. Of course! Intimidated I was, with my zero experience as a teacher earlier which also in turn led me to become a very strict teacher for them. I remember how stressed out I would be over what seemed like innumerable complaints being bombarded at me. But that was the biggest learning point for me. Through thick and thin and through nth number of lectures and chidings, I gradually fell in love with my class. So much that I can still remember each and every student of my class by his/her full name. It was like a slow motion yet fast paced movie for me. Yes my students were naughty but they were also extremely bright and very active. They always had an air of eagerness and enthusiasm around them which would encourage me to always teach them something new. A single piece of information would have them bursting up with their own opinions and questions at me. Albeit it was tough with the encompassing pressure of portion completion and activities but I still managed to try my best. I love to think about the mornings when we would initiate our class with a few minutes of meditation. It was a paradisiacal sight with our class overlooking the Sahyadris. Something like this.

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courtesy- http://bit.ly/13DIBx5

Albeit half of the time would be taken up by the notes I had to make them write, I still had those minute activities for them which would ensure that they learn something new everyday – something that’s exterior to the text. For example, the left portion of the blackboard was normally reserved for ‘The Book of the week’ and ‘Word of the day’ activities. The initial phase commenced with me suggesting a book along with the name of the author and describing the summary in a nutshell. But almost after a span of two weeks, I felt extremely proud to see quite a lot of students suggest books to me – many of which I had not heard of. I loved to see them narrate the story to the class later on. I would end up feeling elated thinking that I could at least bring about a slight change – making them feel that books ain’t really monsters.
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courtesy – http://bit.ly/1755bF4    

                      http://bit.ly/ZLqyWq

When I saw John Galt –

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courtesy – http://bit.ly/12I6xEl

Then there was this particular incident which still moistens up my eyes when I come to think of it. While teaching a chapter on Robin Hood once, I started telling students about the effect and importance of democracy and government and started suggesting a few books to them (as a part of core element). By mistake I mentioned Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ which is one of my favourites. Seeing their curiosity I told them a bit about Anarchism and John Galt’s character in the most simplistic way possible. Knowing that it was too complicated for them, I immediately shrugged the topic off completely forgetting about it. The next day I was met with surprise when one of the brightest students, Manthan brought a full page written information on John Galt. He had surfed the internet to know more about the author and the book. It was so inspiring for me as a teacher. The page stayed on the notice board for more than a month. It epitomized the curious, inquisitive mind of a child which was ready to take in whatever was available. A mind that would develop the way it would be conditioned. A mind that was waiting to be ignited all the more – with the light of knowledge and truth. A mind that would simply seek and learn. Manthan was John Galt for me. 🙂

Manthan is only an example amongst all the remarkable students I fortunately encountered in the past year . I remembered him specifically because that was a completely unexpected yet pleasant situation for me. There can be a book written on the the way each and every student has made teaching an exhilarating experience for me. I know that my life as a teacher is going to be adventurous, where I would teach but learn too. Because I believe that  ‘A child is the father of a man’. Where I am going to face multitudinous experiences – good and bad. But I am sure students like Manthan would always keep me going and loving the profession I have chosen.

inspiring post its   animated_tree_growing

Noticeboard and Blackboard management

matsoncourtesy – http://bit.ly/12HXSBV

Unless we develop the habit of efficient utilization of the facilities we have.
The first and foremost facility that a teacher gets accustomed to is none other than the traditional chalkboard. Since times immemorial, a chalkboard has been the most faithful friend a teacher can ever have and many brilliant minds have learned and helped others learn. Thus, the observation that how important and precious this simple teaching tool is in spite of the modern technologies that decorate the educational market today, cannot be ignored. Keeping this in mind, I immediately thought of this tool as a teaching aid when I was asked to suggest a topic for another TTP.

This and the past year has been a pretty good and productive one for me with multiple pleasing experiences….experiences where I learned and taught. It was also an year where I earned the honour of conducting many ttps in my school and discovered a hidden talent in me. Coming back to the point, I was asked to conduct a TTP for Kindergarten teachers. And I thought of preparing something that dealt with what the teachers normally use and without which the classroom will be incomplete….and lo …I finally prepared a ttp on ‘Noticeboard and Blackboard Management‘. Thankfully, it was well received. I had to make a bit of changes accordingly and show it to the primary and high school teachers at different time periods.

The PPT Dull Teaching Aids Made Interesting

There are a few slides and all the videos missing..but all that’s important is included to give you a basic idea.

As I have already dealt with Noticeboard on my earlier post, won’t be talking about it.
So here are a few other interesting links related to chalkboard management that I found –
http://bit.ly/12HXwez

http://bit.ly/10glFn1

http://bit.ly/14ZocBQ

Concept Mapping –
Another interesting and fun way of using a chalk board is through concept mapping also known as mind mapping. It ensures a sure shot way of quick and easy learning with the usage of a lot of colourful chalks thus making the blackboard look attractive. It involves better grasping and attentiveness on the part of the students too. What else? You can even involve them to help you out with the mapping thus enlivening the classroom atmosphere through co-operative learning.
blackboard
courtesy – http://bit.ly/11Jns60

A few interesting websites on concept mapping –
http://bit.ly/1400WVn

http://bit.ly/U2llj

http://bit.ly/pehIX3

Beautiful black board quotes :-
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courtesy: http://bit.ly/13DVngu

http://bit.ly/12oVHBK
Who says only Bart can be interesting with his chalkboard, eh?
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A ppt on different methods of teaching

Another TTP required a precise PPT on 3 different methodologies of teaching and hence here is a short and sweet presentation on the features of adopting different methods while teaching.

Another thing that I learned on the day of TTP is that mimes and role play if enacted well can make for an extremely interesting teaching method for any subject. All it requires is a teacher who is ready to make some efforts. 🙂

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Would like to end this post with an amazing quote from William Arthur Ward ,” The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. “