When I was in Shillong, the text books would reach as late as September. We could teach science, math political science and English without text books-very well.
Where the academic session would start in Feb and end in November (b’coz of winter vacation), we would re-open in Feb to give a revision and send our 10th and 12th Board students for exams, who brought very good results too.
Effectively, we had text books for 2 months only. In retrospection, I would say that, for those teachers who are clueful, and knowledgeable about the subject, text books are actually limiting factors.
To teach English, Hindi or Telugu for school going students all we need to do is look at the expected language skills at the exit level, in our case 10th Boards. If we know what reading and writing skills they need to know –all we have to do is ‘backward integration’ and define the learner outcomes at each class level. We do not need text books- we can use any situation or source to develop that ‘famous 4’ of language mastery-LSRW. (listening speaking reading writing)
What an ‘experience’ can teach, a text book cannot.
It is the same with Science SST and Math. Of course every science concept cannot be experienced but every science concept can be related to something or the other.
Unless we make math as a necessity to understand how the world works, it is going to be restricted to meaningless numbers and their jugglery in different ways.
The pleasure of teaching social studies as ‘local, regional, national and global’ awareness is immense when we take the world as our textbook.
Me and the teachers are brainstorming one another as to what value added languages, science, math or SST we can give our students, as our contribution to their foundational years.
Teaching lessons from the textbooks can actually be done in 3 months but what we are focussing is on enduring understanding –not just exam readiness.
The real challenge lies in preparing the students to enter into that ‘wisdom age’ that this generation of students are going to live in. Their parents have grown up in ‘industrial and IT age’ - but these students are going to be citizens of a wisdom age where their thinking power is more important than mindless skills.
To enable students with thinking power, we are thinking all the time as to what challenges we can give them to improve their thinking abilities. Edward De Bono’s ‘thinking hats’ is certainly helping us.
- In all this I am happy that -we are slowly growing from teachers to educators. Educators are those who empower people with :
the zeal to learn
thirst for knowledge
ability to apply- with values during the application of knowledge.
There was a time -when teachers were gurus and there came a time- when teachers are just teachers who know the syllabus, exam pattern and marks with complete dependence on textbooks. Only skills were imparted and no respect for knowledge was imbibed. Ethics were completely ignored.
That is why
- we see so many engineers who have no ethics when they build homes, roads or flyovers, more than safety of the people profits are important for them.
- We see so many Govt officials who have no respect for public safety or good. If they have received education, why would they behave as they do now?
- We see police sincerely collecting fine for no seat-belt or helmet! Both these policies are for safety of individuals but the same safety is completely ignored where it comes to filling up potholes or aligning the road with the ground level.
- Rains come and rains go, roads get washed out and people drown in open man holes-but the ‘so called educated employees of the govt’ are busy doing everything else.
- We see the so called ‘IT-Information Technology’ employees who have little information of the world.
- We see so many ‘educated people’ who will look the other way when someone is in need.
- We see so many educated people fighting, abusing for the most insignificant reasons and retreating when it is a matter of significance.
- If education does not teach ‘excellence, commitment, sincerity, respect for work & others, common sense, integrity etc., etc., ’ -then of what use is it when we assume positions as doctors, engineers, IT employees, PWD engineer, teachers, traffic police, police, registrar, Public health inspector, members of AICTE,DEO, CBI officer, Minister (of course a minister need not be educated)....
The gradual ascension to an educator’s level is highly challenging and has a high of its own kind. While redefining the much ill-used word ‘competition’ we are managing to instil ‘excellence’ as the motto in our students. Particularly the 7 Habits of highly effective people are enabling us to inculcate the most important qualities in our students-
Put First Things First
Begin with the end in mind
Seek first to understand and then to be understood
Think win win
Sharpen your saw.
I trust that my students –when they grow up and assume positions and responsibilities will not sham like the present lot of people.
I am sure that they will
• be proactive and cover potholes before the monsoons if they are in PWD,
• they will put first things first and import all the preventive vaccines on swine flu instead of giving speeches on it like the health ministry
• they will begin with an end in mind instead of mindlessly giving permissions to builders to make apartments and causing shortage of water and air
• they will seek to understand the problems of people before passing GOs like our state govt
• they will think win win and not feel obsessed with one-up manship like most of the adults now
• they will synergize and achieve 2+2=10 instead of making 2+2=1/2 like most of the govt employees whose productivity is not even ¼ of their capacity.
• and they will always sharpen their saw by upgrading their knowledge unlike many policy makers who are stuck in 1940s.
WHAT TEACHERS MAKE
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Susan. Be honest. What do you make?"
Susan, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?
"I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.
"You want to know what I make?
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math and perfect their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you have the brains, and follow your heart, and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you must pay no attention because they just didn't learn."
Susan paused and then continued. "You want to know what I make?
'I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.' What do you make?"
"Teachers make every other profession possible."