Teaching fundamental duties

Tarun Bhasin

Fundamental duties usually receive nothing more than a mention in the civics classroom. Learning about fundamental rights often takes precedence over learning about our duties. No textbooks talk about them in detail. Surprisingly not even the NCERT books. However, it should be remembered that it is only a thorough understanding of what they owe the State that will help our children become model citizens tomorrow. Keeping this in mind let us see how a teacher can make the teaching of the fundamental duties interesting.

While there are several different methods to approach this topic, here I will talk about the discussion method. So how can a teacher facilitate a discussion on fundamental duties?

The teacher must keep all relevant material on fundamental duties ready before beginning the discussion. The teacher can set the ball rolling by telling the students that the fundamental duties were not part of the original Constitution. They were included only as part of the 42nd amendment to the Constitution in 1976. Why did the makers of the Constitution not feel the need to include them in the original document? Why was the need felt later? Why does the Constitution not say anything about enforcing these duties? These are questions the teacher can ask her students. To facilitate and guide the discussion the teacher can
1) Make groups
2) Formulate rules
3) Keep relevant fl ash cards, art and craft material ready
4) Frame questions to assess students.

Let the groups be small, say four to six members each. Every group should have a leader; responsibilities should be divided amongst the members of the group. There are 11 fundamental duties and each group should be given one duty to discuss. To allow for discussions to be smooth, rules such as one speaker at a time, listen, think and speak, respect the speaker, etc., can be laid down. Using flash cards for uninterrupted participation is a good idea. The audience can share their thoughts without interrupting the speaker too many times. The flash cards can have the following statements written on them:
1) Ready to share/Still thinking
2) True/Not true
3) I object/to be continued
4) Like/Dislike
5) I support/I condemn.

Students can make colourful head gears or bands to show that they belong to a particular group. Once the students have discussed amongst themselves and with the teacher they can share their learnings with the entire class in the form of presentations and colourful charts.

As we have seen in the beginning of this article, questions form the basis of any discussion. Asking questions is extremely important for only then is the spirit of enquiry born. The teacher can prompt the children to think of their own questions. For instance, how can citizens perform their fundamental duty as watch dogs for government policies and decisions? Why and how is a PIL filed and what is its relevance in a democracy?

Discussion in small groups will cultivate critical and divergent thinking which then come up in presentations of groups. Framing questions and answering them in the classroom itself will make the assessments for, in and of learning complete.

The author is a Trained Graduate Teacher for SSC. He is currently working as Mentor Teacher with the DOE (Directorate of Education). He can be reached at tarunbhasin1973@gmail.com.

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