Learning from COVID-19

Usha Raman
It’s been a strange few weeks. As the panic around the new virus known as COVID-19 spread across the globe after having brought China to a virtual standstill, most institutions of learning in the country – schools, colleges, universities – decided to suspend face-to-face classes and let children stay home.

Calm the butterflies

Usha Raman
Anxiety is in the air. With exams round the corner one can see worried students, parents, teachers and schools. But anxiety brings with it stress and associated concerns. It is time that we started dealing with this anxiety differently and also showed our students and other stakeholders how they can be more positive and a little less stressed around this time every year.

Understanding diverse contexts

Usha Raman
How can children be exposed to diverse contexts so that they can understand the complexity of the world — people, places and culture? How can they understand that politics shapes our world just as much as science, technology and economics? For this the classroom can be a safe space to know and accept the different ways of being. Inside the class, they have the opportunity to ask questions freely and also have a teacher to explain what it all means.

Caring for the carers

Usha Raman

We all agree that teaching is a strenuous job and while we identify several reasons for this, we never look at care giving as a possible cause that leads to teacher stress and burn out. Of all her different roles and responsibilities, care giving takes a lot from the teacher, both mentally and physically and this is why the school should build a system to care for and support their teachers.

The teacher at work

Usha Raman
This Special issue, curated by one of our long-time contributors, Neeraja Raghavan, is the outcome of an idea to get teachers to reflect on the contextualization of their lessons. The articles that we received reflect the level of detail and the diversity of the teachers’ lived experiences. If one teacher brought alive ancient cities in ruins through a contemporary experience, another showed how to develop English textbooks from the children’s own experience. In other words, ‘indigenous pedagogy’ is really all around us.

Winds of change

Usha Raman
The draft of the New Education Policy was released in May this year. Ever since it has generated a lot of debate on what it proposes to do and what it does not. And while a lot of people are getting into this debate of the NEP, the people conspicuous by their absence are the teachers and school administrators and children–incidentally the stakeholders that the policy will most affect. While nobody may ask us for our views on national tv it is still very important that amongst ourselves we discuss the provisions of the NEP and see how we can bring some parity between our own vision for education and that of the top authorities.

Why Fridays matter

Usha Raman
How can educators introduce conversations around big issues in the classroom and how can children be helped to think differently when it comes to tackling these issues? Fifteen year-old Greta Thunberg has been an inspiring voice, calling governments across the globe to tackle climate change. It is now up to educators to support the participation of children in movements like this so that they understand what is happening around them and also give them the intellectual tools to navigate through these trying times.

Stories to go back to

Usha Raman
A teacher’s professional development is not limited to the number of workshops or refresher courses she attends. For a teacher, every day brings some learning. These beautiful lessons about life and teaching that our students bequeath us are what makes teaching such a rewarding profession.

A crucible for a new culture

Usha Raman
The staff room is often a good barometer of the culture of the school. A friendly and open staff room can be an indicator of an open and friendly school, where cooperation and collaboration trump competition. But it can also be a space from which change, innovation and excitement spring, where friendships are made and nurtured, where both successes and failures are discussed without judgment.

“Welcome” back to school

Usha Raman
There is a lot that is not right with this world. And while we can’t set about solving all of the world’s problems, there are some things we can do to make our own small worlds better places to be. As teachers and students, our schools form a large part of our world. Let us work to make this space better, more welcoming and accessible to all of us.