Work and education are inseparable. Play is the work of childhood and work is the play of childhood! The author delves deep into this taking us to her childhood as also explaining the approach at the school she is a part of. She also quotes Tagore, Tolstoy and Read to underscore the point.
Teaching is perhaps one of the most challenging professions there is. The demands on the teacher are many — keep up with new knowledge, create innovative pedagogies, engage the student, stay abreast of the policies in education, tune in to the students and their needs, handle orders from school and answer questions from parents. While we are expecting all of this and more and asking a teacher to give us superior results, are we taking care of a teacher’s needs and giving her an environment that will help her grow? Given that professional development is not systematic and organized in the country, how can a teacher keep up?
We all carry biases and many times are unaware of these biases ourselves. Teachers are human too; they not only have biases but carry them to the classrooms! Is this a matter of concern for them? Textbooks the teachers use too carry biases – those of the textbook writers. In what ways can these biases affect the students? How can teachers get rid of these biases? How do biases play out in times of artificial intelligence.
Schools are important institutions in a society, and governments, parents, educators, and the public in general always want to know how successful they are. Are schools doing what they are meant to? While there are mechanisms in place to measure a school’s success, they are usually limited to students’ academic performances. However, limiting a school’s success to just this one area means looking at the short term and narrowing down on institutional goals. What other dimensions of learning critical to a student’s success can and should be included while measuring a school’s success. How should or do schools measure their success and effectiveness?
How can history textbooks help students to ask and answer questions about the present by engaging with the past? Can they spark curiosity and engage students with the dilemmas, choices and beliefs of people in the past? Can they help young people develop an awareness of their own identities through an understanding of their own and other cultures? Most textbooks do not have different interpretations of history and do not encourage the questions that require students to analyze evidence. What are the current challenges before textbook writers and practitioners of history at the school level?
Life is turbulent like the sea, but all of us would like to believe that it will flow along like a serene and calm river. This inherent optimism bias in human beings and our desire to keep all things bad at bay means that when tragedy strikes, it will strike us hard. Whether as institutions or as individuals, we often find ourselves unprepared to handle tragedies. When we know that life is not all roses, and if education is preparation for life, then we must engage with the grim side of life as well and learn how to handle it.
There is no denying the fact that teachers add value to and enrich children’s lives. But how can we recognize their hard work and achievements? Is there a way this recognition can be built so that important milestones and accomplishments can be celebrated by every educator? Awards and rewards, definitely have a place in some teachers’ lives, while for some others it might not be really necessary. As a demanding profession, there is so much that goes unnoticed, and hence some form of recognition can help. Schools have to become safe spaces to learn and grow, even for teachers. If the teacher networks are strong, there is a higher probability of feeling understood and supported. After all, who can recognize and understand a teacher more, if not another teacher?
Schools must often engage in crucial conversations, discussing challenging, controversial, yet important issues that affect the workings of the school. Crucial conversations whether in the form of feedback or classroom discussions of vital topics can lead to difference of opinions and be emotionally charged. But difficult conversations are necessary and we mustn’t shy away from them.
In the age of digital revolution, data is growing at a pace faster than we can think of and we all are contributing to it. Using this data to better understand human behavior and patterns is a challenge. In the education space the need to maintain data and analyze trends in a way that is useful to all stakeholders is very much a necessity. It is time schools embrace data as a culture – right from the decision-making process to gathering information and resources for the benefit of everyone. A school like any other organization is an evolving workplace that needs review and policy changes from time to time. This is where data regarding academics, teacher training and parent participation can be useful.
Neha and R R Rashmi
The Earth’s temperature has risen by 1.1°C since pre-industrial times. While this rise may appear miniscule, the world is already feeling its effects. A solution to this problem requires cooperation and coordination between a variety of players both at the global and national level. How has the world responded to the climate challenge and what direction can we take moving into the future?