In a school’s academic year, how are things planned and executed with precision? From teaching, testing and evaluating all that needs to be evaluated and including all the co- curricular activities that form part of the curriculum, it is indeed a tall order. Given that our country has three national syllabi and two international curricula, there are bound to be conflicts with so many different boards following different calendars. Do schools have any flexibility in planning their calendars? How do school heads face these enormous challenges that crop up? Does a packed academic calendar result in student fatigue? Do schools create spaces to facilitate students’ emotional and spiritual well-being? Our cover story by a leading principal and the additional articles accompanying it throw light on some of these issues so that both school heads and teachers can plan out their days more efficiently.
What is teaching philosophy? How important is it to have one? Does it change as a teacher grows in her profession? What influences a teacher’s teaching philosophy? We went searching for these answers to five teachers from very different streams of education.
Can a school have regular classes on culture? Can it be made a part of the school’s curriculum? Culture is shaped partly by our attitude and behaviours which we replicate from society. But most of this learning falls outside the curriculum. In this article which is the lead story in this issue, the author argues that there are many other things we learn along with geography, history or science or math. Students learn that not all people are equal, that some are rich, some are poor, some are capable, others struggle etc. But what they do not learn is self- awareness. It is this that must be taught to children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.