Getting our priorities right

Mangalam Narayanan

Digital learning first began in 2012. At that time, technology in education was meant to enhance the role of the teacher and help students explore questions. Today with most of the world staying at home, technology seems to have become the only means to education. Educational institutions started making use of digital teaching apps such as Zoom, Hangouts, PPts, Google Classroom, etc.In the beginning, both parents and teachers and the school management were happy as schools were able to engage students fruitfully.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this kind of distant learning. The advantages first. 1) Self-discipline 2) flexible schedule and environment 3) more choice of courses 4) lower costs 5) globalized environment 6) space to work at one’s own pace.

Disadvantages 1) It may not help identify slow learners 2) customized learning will require better management scheduling tools 3) it gives access to unlimited information to very young children 4) it creates a division between technology haves and have-nots 5) not all possess the necessary infrastructure, particularly affordable broadband at home.

It is understandable that children have to use their time at home fruitfully, but schools are outdoing each other in trying to keep students engaged and parents happy. It is pathetic to see some schools providing zoom classes to kindergartners as well. Is it necessary for schools to complete first-term portions? Students are loaded with worksheets and projects. It is unfair if we don’t give them some time and space. It is true that schools are losing out on precious time and are not able to work to their full capacity in virtual classrooms, but that doesn’t mean that they exhaust students out with notes and homework.

Conducting classes online is a tough challenge for the teacher. As she is not physically present in front of her students, the teacher will not be able to identify any difficulties that students had while understanding the concept, she will not be able to tell how much of real learning happened.

Also in metropolitan cities, we can still experiment with technology, but what about rural areas? Government schools? Has the government taken any steps to bring digital learning to the rural areas? Will schools ponder the above challenges? How are they going to solve these challenges? Let us not create academic monsters, but good human beings out of our students. During this stay-at-home period, let students help their parents in everyday chores, making the budget for the month [how much to spend on necessities], let them learn the value of money and the importance of investment for the future, keeping the house clean and reading the newspaper and novels. Parents can teach spiritual aspects of life, respecting women and good manners and etiquette. Let this time be taken as a positive measure to be with their family and learn good habits and every parent should see that their child will be a good human being and a good citizen of the country.

The author is a political science teacher in Smt Sulochanadevi Singhania School. She has worked in the education field for 25 years now. She can be reached at [email protected].

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