Teaching and Learning Methods

Exam & Marks Driven

* “ Education is to draw out, not to put in”
* “ Education today is either doling out knowledge or information”
* “ Exam marks have become the be all and end all”
* “ The focus on exams and marks is like winning a 100 metre race on steroids”

Creativity Missing

* “ Scientific literacy is missing”
* “ Why are we not producing world class scientists?”
* “ Why should a beaker have a beak?”
* “ How can you create a class where a a child can ask questions?”
* “ How can a child’s nature skills be developed?”
* “ It is because of the nature of teaching that curiosity is thrown out”
* “ How can we develop in students an intrinsic ability to see and learn from nature?”

Language an Issue

* “ The essence of teaching is communication”
* “ Language today is only a tool, an elective”
* “ Language has become a skill subject, not language as literature”

Teacher Apathy

* “ Blaming the curriculum is a totally unjustified alibi”
* “ Teachers don’t see the pastoral side of teaching”
* “ If a student hasn’t learnt, the teacher hasn’t taught”
* “ You are not teaching if you are not learning”
* “ Today’s teachers are ignoring the classics”

Student Disillusionment

* “ I have been brought up in a system where there is no innovation”
* “ My lab environment was very claustrophobic”
* “ Many of us feel sleepy in class because it’s hot and there aren’t enough windows”
* “ I haven’t learnt anything in economics”
* “ The real value (knowledge) of students is not recognised”
* “ I am scared …the system is corrupt, I don’t know if I will get into a good college”
* “ How can we make history and social studies more interesting?”

Observations - Teaching and Learning Methods

* The emphasis in most Indian schools is on exam oriented "learning".
* The prevalent 'direct teaching' method also known as the "factory approach" discourages student curiosity, questioning, innovation and feedback.
* This produces mechanical knowledge aimed at passing exams.
* Innovation in teaching and learning aimed at development of creative and original thinking skills is rare:
* There is very little learning from first principles (cause-effect learning)
* Few teachers and schools relate learning to actual phenomena in nature (development of physical intuition)
* There is very little focus on application of knowledge and development of relevant practical skills.
* There are few incentives and opportunities for 'indirect' e.g. creative, collaborative and hands-on learning.
* Some examples of innovation among Bangalore schools include teaching social science through simulation games to secondary students at Mallya Aditi, science teaching that encourages questioning by primary level students at NAFL and student participation and learning at The Center for Learning.
* Most teachers display a distinct lack of imagination and initiative in interpreting and enriching textbook learning.
* Assessment methods focus almost exclusively on exams. Many children would do better in class if alternative methods of assessment (e.g. aural) were factored into overall assessment.
* Off campus specialist-tutoring courses is an accelerating and important phenomenon that has grown into a parallel education system.
* Tutoring focuses entirely on exams and marks; exam questions often are leaked to students.
* Tutoring classes outside of regular work hours have become a major source of income for many teachers.
* The "factory based" approach to primary and secondary education, combined with the race to secure a graduate degree, has produced a large number of "graduates" without effective thinking, application, teamwork and leadership skills. The consequences of this are far reaching:
* The lead-time for training and retraining new recruits in industry as well as the cost of such training is increasing.
* A large and growing segment of the population lacks basic vocational skills and training.
* Productivity throughout the economic system is low
* Accelerating expectations combined with a lack of productive opportunity has created a potentially volatile situation.
* The explosion in school graduates has not been matched by an increase in quality undergraduate institutions. This has resulted in fierce competition for limited seats
* even a 0.5% difference in marks can result in success or failure.
* For example, over 120,000 candidates compete every year for the 2,000 to 3,000 seats offered by the prestigious IITs
* Cultural enrichment of students, a key education objective, is not happening:
* In teaching language, the focus is on language as a skill rather than its classical and creative aspects.
* Learning and development opportunities in art, music, dance, theatre and classical languages are limited.

Information Technology (IT)

* IT presents a major opportunity to rapidly spread information and knowledge cost-effectively even to the most remote rural areas of the country.
* India is gaining a worldwide reputation for its success in exporting contract software services - Indian programmers in India have not yet however established a reputation for building new and revolutionary software products. The question remains whether they will close this 'creative gap' any time soon. Part of the reason for lack of success so far may well lie in the nature of the education system which discourages creativity and learning from first principles
* The key to effectively leverage information technology in Indian primary education is to get teachers and students proactively involved with IT through, for example:
* Undertaking real life projects within and outside the school campus
* Encouraging close interaction with software and hardware companies
* Making available resources to less privileged groups