Today’s teachers are feeling the heat and resentment, as they face many challenges in this profession. The foremost seems to be the discrepancy in the salary of private and government school teachers. While it is good that the government teachers are getting their due, private school teachers are overburdened with work and still do not get paid accordingly. The slightest lucrative opportunity elsewhere makes a teacher manipulative hoping to grab it. This results in high attrition rate and even the sense of belongings to an institution suffers a setback.
Our education system, which is designed around narrow and outdated exams, seems to be pushing teachers and students to forget about thinking and focus only on rote learning from a textbook. Well-meaning and hardworking teachers across the country spend countless hours covering portions, preparing kids for exams, and teaching them to score well. And anxious children across the country spend a lot of time memorising information, hoping that they will be able to provide the answer that the examiner is looking for.
The students are getting bored sitting in a classroom atmosphere and would like to learn more from outside. Even teaching children in an open space is an available option as the students would like to share the new experience of education sitting on the lawns of the school. But there are restrictions that children should be confined to four walls and glue to the black board or watch at the power point presentation all the time. This makes children more monotonous and when a class picnic or an educational tour is arranged the children consider it as a learning curve and make use of the opportunity in the best way possible.
Different options are tried out with different type of children. An educative lot is given a special training for improving their prospects in scoring high marks. Again, for differently-abled children we need to tap their talent and apply our mind to give them the much need boost. For example, these students can be trained in physical activities and with multi sports options they bring out the best in them on and off the field. It’s a good initiative if an inter-school competition is being held for these special kids with special needs. Such programmes are hardly conducted.
Autism is no longer classified as a single disorder, but rather an entire spectrum ranging in severity. It is the core of all of these syndromes, with its features being prevalent to varying degrees throughout, and includes disorders such as Rett Syndrome and Childhood dis-integrative disorder. Aarti Vatsala, an Indian working for 5 years in Kuwait and Gurugram in international schools after doing her MA in psychology feel at ease in dealing with children by taking them out.
Let’s get our teachers thinking about some fundamental questions: Why do we teach? What is the purpose of school? And what is it that we are trying to do every day in our classrooms? What does a child in the 21st century need to learn? How do we make sure that our students are thinking and learning? And why our students are not being praised and commended when they ask good questions in classes? Why isn’t thinking being valued and encouraged in our classrooms?
Let’s make sure that we do two central things. First, encourage our teachers to ask open-ended questions that stimulate thinking. And second, encourage our teachers to validate students who ask interesting questions. Then maybe we will begin to see some thinking in our classrooms.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)