The vexing question

Kavita Anand
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?

How do we prepare to deal with tragedy?

Simran Luthra
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.

Every day, a Teacher’s Day?

Fiona Vaz
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?

How can I help you improve?

Lamia Bagasrawala
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.

Towards a data-rich school: thoughts and ideas

Amitava Nag
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.

What is climate change governance?

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?

ASER – Shifting the narrative from schooling to learning

Vignesh Krishnan, Ngawang Lhakey and Isha Thakur
The Annual State of Education Report (ASER) is a nationwide household survey conducted to assess the reading and arithmetic levels of children from over 15000 villages across the country. Started and led by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation over two decades ago, it is one of the most significant initiatives ever carried out to assess the learning levels of children. Over time, it has shaped the nationwide discourse on learning outcomes and the impact on children in India. ASER’s assessment and sampling tools are reliable and scientific and hold a mirror to the learning levels of children. The Cover Story in this issue is based on ASER’s journey over the years as well as an interview with Dr. Rukmini Banerji who was instrumental in shaping and setting up the ASER centre.

The Everything School

Sheela Ramakrishnan
Once upon a time, it was the role of the home to nurture social and emotional skills in children. Today schools are offering curriculums to teach these skills. Are societies and homes no longer places to imbibe these qualities? Won’t adding these curriculums increase the school’s workload? We take a closer look at SEL, why we need it and how teachers can incorporate it in their classrooms.

Two teacher friends and a visionary principal

Sheela Ramakrishnan
Can working professionals ever be friends in the true sense of the word? Most would agree that this could be next to impossible. However, the education space begs to be different. In a school, when colleagues become friends, the relationship moves to a new level, bringing with it a sense of satisfaction and achievement that would not have been possible otherwise. Our September special issue in view of Teacher’s Day unfolds many such stories of friendships. From experimenting with pedagogies to putting together fresh material for textbooks that are still going strong, to sharing ideas that work and also being role models in collaboration rather than competition, there is much to read and learn.

The power of words in the primary classroom

Yukti Lao
When we think of language in a school setting, we only think of it in terms of a subject or subjects to be learnt. But language is also used to transact lessons. As teachers we aim to deliver the perfect lesson but don’t give much thought to the vocabulary we use to deliver those lessons. We are also caregivers, guides, and counsellors to our students but may not always be mindful of what we say to them. Spoken words have the power to make or break the listener. Even seemingly harmless words such as ‘easy’, ‘simple’, and ‘straightforward’ can cause damage and that is why we have to be watchful of the words we use both to instruct and interact with our students.