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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.