• Every question deserves an answer

    Ardra Balachandran
    Gone are the days when teachers were revered in society and teaching considered a sacred profession. Today teachers are a harassed lot. While expectations from teachers are huge, most of them are shorn off even their basic rights. Salaries are delayed, they are overworked, are abused by parents and school managements. If we expect our teachers to do their jobs perfectly then let us create an environment in which they are taken care of. Let us put in place proper grievance redressal systems so that no teacher is denied justice.

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  • Which book to go b(u)y?

    Shweta Sharan
    The CBSE’s attempt to mandate NCERT textbooks across India has received mixed responses. While the Madras High Court has stayed the HRD Ministry’s order, there is every possibility that NCERT books may become compulsory at some point. If it does, the impact on the publishing industry will be significant. But will it impact teaching and learning outcomes too? Teacher Plus spoke to several school principals, teachers, publishing experts and parents to get their views on this. While the poor availability of NCERT textbooks is cited as the reason for schools prescribing textbooks from private publishers, many parents suspect that private schools and private publishers have an unholy nexus of sorts. In the midst of all this, there is an urgent need to introspect on the widely prevalent textbook culture itself.

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  • On being a teacher

    Alok Mathur

    What makes a teacher depends largely on the relationship that a teacher builds with his students. A relationship that leads the teacher to observe his students, identify their needs, understand them and work with them to help them emerge as good human beings; a relationship that is reciprocal in which a teacher gains as much as he gives.

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  • Teaching the teacher?

    Sheela Ramakrishnan
    Every professional needs to be a continuous learner if he or she has to cope with the dynamism prevalent in the world today . Teachers too need to keep themselves updated about new developments in the field, new materials and changes in the curriculum. Today’s educator needs to enable students who can learn to learn. In this milieu, therefore, it has become absolutely essential for professional update sessions to happen in every school. This issue of the magazine explores the concept of continuing education through the framework of in- service workshops. Do workshops really work? How can schools invest time and the will to train their teachers? How can resource persons deliver what is most required? Here are a range of perspectives that can offer some solutions.

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  • Do you feel what I feel?

    Fiona Vaz

    Empathy is perhaps the element that makes us different from animals, makes us human beings. Our ability to not just tolerate but accept “the other” is a very important aspect of who we will become. In order to have a better, more peaceful and happy society it is necessary that we create environments that nurture and grow the empathetic feelings that children are naturally wired for.

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  • Teaching computing in schools

    Madhavan Mukund
    What exactly is a computer science class? Schools need to go beyond word processors and spreadsheets and teach students how to construct documents and effectively collect and organise data. Students need to be taught about security, privacy and ethics and to be responsible citizens in an Internet driven world. Basically the curriculum must be made more relevant to the students. Computing or computational thinking is what teachers should be teaching. Computing is about problem solving and at its core is the idea of an algorithm – about how to solve a problem. Teachers and curriculum developers need to think more on how this essential idea can be conveyed without disrupting the existing system.

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  • Riding to school

    Neerja Singh

    A school’s ability to provide transport to its students has already become one of the main considerations for parents when choosing a school for their children. What involves a school transport system? How do schools build and manage efficient transport? What measures do they take to ensure the safety of their students? Teacher Plus takes a look at this very important link in the chain of education.

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  • Creating a safety net for the mind

    Lakshmi Karunakaran

    Here are some questions that most schools need to ask : Is there value in having a school counsellor? Is there understanding of the role of the counsellor? Should teachers be trained as counsellors too or should there be trained counsellors different from the teachers ? Since the teacher is the first point of contact and can reach out to the child easily, simple issues and mentoring can be handled by the teacher and this could be the way forward in future. But, there is also a significant need for a professional counsellor whom children can approach in confidence and without fear of any social stigma. Our cover story is a call for the entire school community to create a culture that is committed to treating all students with respect and sensitivity.

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  • Lessons for life

    Gita Krenek

    Rules are important for no society can function without them. But insistence on blind obedience of rules only encourages passive acceptance. As responsible influential adults in the lives of children, teachers have to ensure that they nurture critically thinking children who understand and imbibe the values behind those rules. And perhaps the best way to do this is perhaps to become role models they can emulate.

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  • A courageous classroom culture

    Chintan Girish Modi

    Are human beings capable of achieving great feats? Can a heroic act be attempted by ordinary individuals? How can we nurture heroism in the classroom? Heroism is an attitude , the act of heroism is being able to take the jump into the unknown, to take a stand, to ask why or even to challenge the status quo. Can these attributes or heroic habits be developed ? Can a teacher be a hero by willing to take risks in terms of the pedagogic choices she makes, by her presence in the classroom, in the way she relates to her students? Answers to these questions can help decide whether we are all heroes in waiting.

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  • Beyond justification: what students learn from the arts

    Jessica Hoffmann Davis

    The arts have always had to fight for their space in the curriculum. To justify the presence of the arts we talk about the value they add in our learning of the “more important” subjects. While it is true that we can learn math from the beats of the drum, language through song and science from works of art, perhaps arts should be taught not for what they do in service of other subjects but for the intrinsic value they bring to us as human beings.

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  • Start, Camera, Caution!

    Ardra Balachandran

    CCTVs in the classroom, cameras in the toilets…. can this happen in schools in our country? Make no mistake. Slowly, but surely, Big Brother keeping a watch on teachers and children is becoming a reality. This idea of school surveillance is our Cover Story this month and our correspondent spoke to several teachers and students to get their view on this invasive mechanism. The use of CCTVs in classrooms and schools may have improved safety systems, but using them to monitor teacher activity has raised a few hackles. Is surveillance or monitoring necessary to run a system? How far can one go and when does it become invasive? The questions are many and the answers difficult to comprehend.

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  • Sustaining vision: replication or renewal?

    G. Gautama

    By striking a different path in the field of education, alternative ideas have made a space for themselves.There are more people experimenting today than before. But unlike what is popularly known as the “mainstream”, alternative ideas haven’t yet managed to take strong root. Some alternative ideas have succeeded, others have faltered. What is it that helps sustain an idea? Is there a model that can be followed?

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  • The Heart of the Matter

    Susheela Punitha
    Devraj, who teaches undergraduates, is entrusted with an additional task of taking evening classes in the absence of another teacher. Does Devraj live up to his new role or does he find teaching burdensome? How does he tackle the unruly set of students that he sets about to teach? Does he manage to win their hearts with his patience and motivated talk? This story wins the first place.

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  • How teachers are diversifying

    Mehak Siddiqui

    The teachers of today are no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom. The role of the teacher has become multi-dimensional now from its earlier uni dimensional avatar. More and more teachers are finding that they can put their skills and experience to use even outside the classroom. Whether as examiners for standardized tests, curriculum designers or trainers, teachers have these and many more options to choose from.

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  • The pros and cons of outsourced testing

    Garima Bansal
    The introduction of CCE has compelled teachers to assess students’ learning levels continuously, provide timely feedback and remediation. This has increased the workload of teachers leading to stress and overwork. In this scenario, the notion of outsourcing assessment by schools to external bodies has gained ground. What are the pros and cons of this kind of outsourced testing? Is it a convenient tool to assess students’ learning levels comprehensively? Are all schools able to invest in technology and human resources? Finally, what are the positive effects for the teaching- learning process?

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  • (Un)learning economics

    Alex M Thomas

    Economics textbooks teach students only the now popular and mainstream economics otherwise called ‘neo classical economics’. But studying this will be a uni-dimensional way of understanding the subject especially when several noted economists have charted out different ways of understanding the subject. So to understand what economics is we have to unlearn what we learnt as economics and explore the subject in several different ways.

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  • Navigating the non-curricular stream

    Devika Nadig
    Most schools have a purpose and goal in their educational process that can be broadly divided into economic and social. This is towards attaining what is called ‘holistic development’ of the child. But how can the schools realign their goals to include certain individual aspirations of some students ? This is something that needs attention and is now neglected. Here are some smart strategies that schools can employ given the complexity of achieiving the two important goals — one that is school driven and the other that is individualised

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  • Anchors away! The travel imperative

    Sharmila Govande
    The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky – Margaret McMillan
    A young preteen couldn’t …

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  • Taking the challenge

    Vijay A. Singh
    Competitive events related to academics such as the Olympiads in math and science celebrate the best young minds in high school. They are an excellent educational resource and need to be used wisely. School managements and teachers must realise that they offer a glorious opportunity for students to be exposed to the beauty that lies in the subjects especially mathematics. Our Cover theme gives an overview of the Olympiads and how teachers can nurture their students to participate in these events.

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  • Grannies in the cloud

    Milan Kaur

    With the Internet at their disposal and a facilitator to guide them if necessary, can children become their own teachers? Are self-organized learning environments (SOLE) as proposed by Dr. Sugata Mitra really possible? Teacher Plus participated in a SOLE session at Gocharan in West Bengal to see how a SOLE Lab works, how children learn there, what the role of the grannies who provide the stimulating environment is and it turned out to be quite an interesting experience.

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  • Teaching like Gandhi

    Krishna Kumar
    How can a teacher teach like Gandhi? If a teacher wants children to be happy and self- reliant in their lives, she or he must give them experiences that require all-round care and exercise of responsibility. This explains in simple terms the Gandhian idea of education. Read up this article to get new and fresh insights into how your teaching can be made more delightful.

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  • Laugh out loud… with affection

    Rohan D’Souza

    Which of us doesn’t like a laugh now and then. And children, with fewer tensions and problems, laugh unabashedly. When we all enjoy a little humour, is it worth looking at how we can make use of our ‘funny bones’ in pedagogy? Also how important is it to inculcate in children the ability to laugh at themselves and others without denigrating them?

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  • A problematic mix

    Mounik Shankar Lahiri
    Do schools which serve a critical function in society also turn out to be spaces that are faced with different kinds of power struggles? What is the kind of internal dynamics that pervades the school space? Does the interpersonal relationship between teachers and other members of the staff, or the power struggle between the teacher and the student in the classroom impact the nature and quality of learning? Our cover story this month is an attempt to acknowledge that though politics is an unavoidable reality in any institutional set up, school leaders need to be aware of how it operates and how it can be regulated.

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  • The U turn: Dibs in search of self

    Neerja Singh

    Every book, every film, or every idea that a teacher comes across is a learning instrument for her. As part of its Teacher’s Day offering, Teacher Plus brings you a bouquet of resources that teachers have learnt from and recommend to fellow teachers. Neeraja Singh, former teacher and now a writer, talks about the impact that the book Dibs in search of self can have on teachers. Reading this book will help one understand what an enabling relationship between teachers and their students can help achieve. The book is a child therapy classic that sends out a strong message–never give up on any child.

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  • How politics impacts school practice

    Anjali Noronha
    Education in India has always been guided by educational policy at the national, state and local levels which in turn is a product of political interaction between diverse forces and by practice at the classroom level. Where does this change happen? Mostly, at the level of curriculum, textbooks and assessment. So, how does this kind of politics impact school practice? The author,while exploring this relationship, suggests that if education is looked upon as transformative, then political change and its influence on classroom practice can be seen as opportunities to engage in intense learning.

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  • Living Kindness

    Nyla Coelho

    In our cover story this month, we ask our readers an important question. Should human values like kindness and compassion be confined to the weekly once moral science classes alone? And in some cases not even that. Kindness will not be imbibed by children only by listening to stories or moral lessons. Adults around them have to practice kindness ever day. We have to lead by example to show them the beauty of this wonderful value.

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  • Why Physics?

    Saroja Sreekanth
    Teaching physics is always a challenge especially when students consider the subject to be as difficult as math. So, what can teachers do to keep their students motivated and interested in questions that come up all around us? First, the learning process has to be made exciting and this can be done by explaining the subject’s relevance in a real life context. Second, the Internet would be a great tool to whet the children’s appetite. This way, the teaching- learning program will be rewarding and meaningful to both students and teachers.

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  • Of what (and how) are teachers made?

    Kuldeep Garg
    Post NCF (National Curriculum Framework) 2005, there has been a significant change in the way we view teacher development. …

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  • Understanding structural issues

    Ketaki Chowkhani
    In the background of three cases of sexual assault reported against children of different schools in Bangalore, the questions that we need to ask are: How can we nurture different ways in which adults relate to children? How can we ensure that the relationship between adults and children in school is not based on discipline, punishment and a sense of power?One solution would be to have sensitization programmes on sexuality and gender for the adult staff at the beginning of every school year. This will go a long way in undoing the unequal power relations that result in child sexual abuse.

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Cover Story

Ardra Balachandran
Gone are the days when teachers were revered in society and teaching considered a sacred profession. Today teachers are a harassed lot. While expectations from teachers are huge, most of them are shorn off even their basic rights. Salaries are delayed, they are overworked, are abused by parents and school managements. If we expect our teachers to do their jobs perfectly then let us create an environment in which they are taken care of. Let us put in place proper grievance redressal systems so that no teacher is denied justice.