Sharing & Learning Together

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

international curriculum at the primary level

Dear All,
Sorry for late entry!!!!........I have been doing some research in the interest of making my essay meaty and fact-based!!.....here are some resources the people working on this topic can look into.Firstly, the library have proven to be a rich claudron of information .Several books on international curriculum floating around( currently two good books are with me!!!).Secondly our very own Hema Mandana's essays on international curriculum have been a saving grace.Fourtly , the other articles given to us , can also add a lot of value to our essay. I found the Howard Gardner's article "Cultures Educate" very useful .Last but not the least ,the net has proven to be pretty helpful this time around, especially with case studies!!
After skimming through the Kevin Bartlet article I got the idea of developing a questionnaire which (hopefully)seeks to answer the question : Is Developing an international curriculum at the primary level a possibility ?.

I would appreciate it if people would kindly revert back with their suggessions and comments on the same.

Regards,
Anu

Sunday, November 27, 2005

International Curricula

Dear Friends,
Let me share my views on the topic ‘International Curricula’.
Recently, we have been noticing a spurt in the growth of International schools. The entry of these schools have not only brought international curricula closer home, the traditional courses like CBSE, ISC and ICSE are also being given a makeover. These international schools offer various international courses like IB [International Baccalaureate], IGCSE [The International General Certificate of Secondary Education] programmes etc. So what are the relative merits of the international and homegrown curricula for education. The traditional schools teach ‘what to think’. Teachers are bound to teach what is prescribed in the text-book. On the other hand, the international schools teach ‘how to think’ and the curriculum offered by these schools is flexible and non-textbookish. Themes are given and lesson plans, which are largely multi -disciplinary, are developed accordingly. Thus, international curricula develop a student’s mind and de-emphasise rote-learning. The IB and IGCSE courses being offered by these international schools are very practical in their approach, where children are involved in their own learning. The cramming system is discarded unlike the traditional courses. The teacher has a vital role, which primarily is helping the children know how they can learn and understand and that is the philosophy of the international curricula.

Presently, our Aditi school is offering IGCSE courses only which is a two-year programme starting at the class 9 level. But the good news is that for the benefit of younger learners, CIE has also declared the launch of its new Cambridge International Primary Programme in June, 2005 which means students will be able to study the IGCSE from age five through age 18. Though we have not yet started offering this programme, we are following a curriculum that strives to equip students with the skills to learn and acquire knowledge, both individually and collaboratively, allow students to apply their skills and knowledge in diverse contexts and provide internationally relevant content while responding to local requirements.

How relevant and useful are the International Baccalaureate (IB) and other International Programmes like Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) in a country like India is a big issue. Our Indian curriculum is definitely more exam oriented and theoretical when compared to IB and CIE programmes. There is a marked difference between the two systems in the style of answering questions, methods of teaching, approach etc. IB and CIE programmes would be more relevant for Indian students who want to pursue their higher education abroad. But, given the dismal numbers of such students, ICSE, CBSE, and other State sponsored exams will always be more relevant than the other systems of international origin. In order to bring our educational system more in alignment with these International Programmes, the NCERT, India has prepared new syllabi according to the National Curriculum Framework-2005. Some of the considerations taken into account in the syllabi are as follows:
Appropriateness of topics and themes for the relevant psychological stages of children’s development.
Linkage between school knowledge and children’s everyday experiences.
Softening of boundaries between subject areas, thematic linkages and centrality to activities and innovative teaching practices.
If these changes are implemented effectively, the IB and CIE Programmes could assume a new relevance.

Gulab

Is school Science in search of democratic order?

Science is all around us. We see science in all our day to day activities. The functions which science has to perform in the curriculum. is that it has to open intellectual vistas and create an awareness of science and its application.

Pure science is not totally different from practical science (or) laboratory science, Indian exam curriculum obstructs learning science in the correct perspective. Students who complete their school, college education and start their life in industry are not fully prepared for it. Our present Indian curriculum emphasises more on acquiring facts and recall, rather than its application. That is why, Indian students face difficulty when they actually start their career.

"Pure science is fit for the superior mind. in the liberal curriculum for the higher orders and simultaneously a halt to practical scientific education of the lower order."

At the high scool level connecting the scientific facts to day to day activities and its application can be to some extent explained. For example. while teaching chromatography(amethod of separation), application of this separation method is explained in terms of analysis in biotech industries and in forensic sciences.

High school student s are taught to design experiments. For example to study the rate of chemical reactions, they have to relate to the factors which influence rate of reactions. Especially while teaching chemistry, practical applications in the laboratory and connecting to the theoritical knowledge has greater impact on their learning.

For a particular content different contexts can be established, which helps in their learning better. For example while learning atomic spectra, the emission spectra phenomenon can be explained by flame test in the laborotory, it can be contextualised with its application in the metallic vapour lamps.
There are are so many misconceptions inlearning chemistry. In the high school level when they learn about dissolution of solids in liquids, students are often mislead to understand that the intermolecular space between the liquid molecules is occupied by solute particles, which is not true. Dissolution is produced through the interaction between the solute and the solvent, which they can understand for themselves by studying the physical properties of the pure solvent and the solution.
( Source: Howard gardner: Changing minds)
" Individual must absorb themselves deeply in examples."

International Curriculum - more or less important at the Primary Level?

After I read the article these thoughts came to my mind.......

What is an International curriculum?.....does it begin with a set of objectives which clearly define what children should be capable of at certain important periods of their development? ........should it include everything that children learn during their time at school?.....does it provide the most appropriate support for teachers to develop children's learning?.......does it provide opportunities for teachers to assess the quality of children's learning?........or does it mean developing international mindedness in children to enable them to accept different cultures with an open mind?


Would an International curriculum be more effective at a whole-school level rather than only at the primary or secondary level to help children learn effectively?

How does Aditi incorporate it into her system?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

CULTURES THAT TAUGHT ME

Basuvan was a short man, according to his own ‘Kattunayakar’ brethren. He was about four-and-a-half-feet in height, thin, wiry and would have never exceeded about 45 kilo grams on any day. His ancestors were experts in the art of tapping honey from those massive combs that dangled on the near sky-high trees of the beautiful undulating Malabar hills in the Western Ghats. Basuvan was according to his own people, closest to their ancestors when it came to cajoling honey out of the combs. Because most of these honey comb-bearing trees were in the midst of prime elephant and tiger forests, the people of this community were also experts in camouflage and stealth. And so was Basuvan too. When I met Basuvan for the first time, he was planting yam in his backyard (he lived in the forest). I was aimlessly wandering in Basuvan’s home ground searching for the ever-elusive Malabar grey hornbill. Basuvan was busy digging pits to plant the yam, when I casually asked him if he could join me in my search of the hornbills. He did not reply though he nodded in positive. In the five years that I spent with Basuvan, he had never spoken many a words.

We began our search together. While I was straining my ears and eyes to locate the hornbill, Basuvan had a very simple technique. He was looking for the fig trees in the forest. For he knew - and his ancestors had definitely passed on the knowledge - that the hornbills will flock around any fig tree that has ripe fruits in it. And I did see hornbills in hundreds on the fig tree. I had a lot of pride in myself that I was ‘the expert’ in the forest armed with all the requisite background knowledge on the hornbills and their habitats. But without uttering a word, Basuvan showed me my place by using his indigenous knowledge of the habitat. Basuvan’s abilities for observation were enormous. By viewing a pugmark, he would comment about the age of the tiger, its gender, the mood of the animal, whether it was hungry or was just having a casual stroll. Every day we would be charged by elephants, and I cannot think of a day, when it was but Basuvan who plucked me out of danger.

I did learn to survive and enjoy my prolonged stay in the forests. I learnt to move through endless herds of elephant by plastering myself with elephant dung. I learnt to mimic the calls of the leopard and the hornbills, the barbets, the jungle fowls and so on. I learnt to walk with minimal disturbance to other co-habitors of the forests. I learnt to sleep on the forest floor and yet be always ready to spring up and ascend the nearest tree to save myself from some of the charismatic animals of the forest. I actually realised that over a period of time, I actually had began to train the powers of my senses to better use in this beautiful journey with Basuvan. I realised that for the first time in life I actually was looking at plants beyond their mere ‘scientific names’. I was very happy and satisfied, for there was a new vigour within. I was more observant. I was seeing entities that ignored my attention, I was hearing sounds that were unheard before, I was smelling fragrance that missed my nostrils till then.

I and Basuvan went on to work together for the next five years. I do feel that I owe my life and its learnings to Basuvan. Though, my work got internationally published, commended, and the Bharathiar University awarded a doctorate for my work, it actually belonged to the puny kattunayakan whom his people called Basuvan.

The cultures that taught me in the city and far off in the forest communicated a common thread. These cultures demanded one’s total attention, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days. These cultures demanded the senses to delve deep beneath the periphery. These cultures demanded silent expression and were predominantly silent. These cultures demanded my time in fullness. These cultures were about subtlety. I am in the midst of another culture. And my learning continues……

Science for me now and then

Science has been a subject where i had no specific reason as to why i was learning it whether it was in school or in college. It had no practical application in my case. Science teaching had no experiments to relate to practical application. But on the physics day in Aditi i could see how much science had made sense to them. They are able to relate to various examples, experiment the same. When i visited the physics day show. I felt that if we had been taught science like aditi teachers teach then i would have been more into science today.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

TEXT OR CONTEXT

TEXT or CONTEXT
As a student, I was very fortunate to learn and work with a highly versatile teacher at the Madras Christian College, Chennai. My teacher Dr. P. Dayanandan, for most of his professional life worked in the Michigan University, Ann Arbor. His prime interest was and still continues to be plant physiology. But his larger interest has been to find and provide a space where innumerable rural as well as urban students with less than enough economic means are able to empower themselves by opportunities of school and college education. There were a few more fortunate ones like me who could actually see him work, work with him and so learn the different ways of learning science. Most students who walk into his lab, stay on to do research for five-six years. In the five-six years that they spend with him as research fellows, they seldom have been spoken to by their teacher about the science of movement of food materials from the leaves of rice to the grains – the reason for which they are with him. In a 12 hour working schedule the teacher ‘spoke’ about science for time period ranging from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Rest of the time was spent on ‘doing’.

The lab is equipped with one of the best microscopes in the country, which is worth about 40 lakh rupees. The research fellows’ job is rather simple. They are to take transverse sections of rice grains and grains of other grasses (rice grain is usually about 4-6 mm in length) at different stages of fruiting and stain the section with dyes that are specific for proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and other macromolecules. The macromolecule-specific dyes would help them analyse the movement of macromolecules into the grains. The pathways of the movement of food particles into the grain actually allow them to examine the efficiency of the conducting systems in rice plants and thus ultimately make important correlation on nature’s choice of such conducting system.

The teacher never provides the students’ any protocols for research. The students just see him taking section. They would follow him, and slowly begin to taking good sections. Sitting in his rotating chair, While he would continue taking those thin, straight, sections, he would also talk to them about a variety of issues that were not directly related to the topic of research or for that matter sometimes even within the realms of science. He would talk about the issues of Dalits in India, he talked about issues of terrorism, he would take them on a virtual tour of a National Park he had visited bring forth every bit of his observations during the visit – though butterflies and birds were his favourites - he would talk about tree architecture, he would talk about the temples of Tanjore explaining the different kinds of ‘Vimanas”, he would talk about some ancient and beautiful churches within Chennai city, suddenly one weekend he would walk into the lab and announce that all students would be taking off for the weekend to South Tamil Nadu and do photography of the “Nayakar” paintings. But remember, he seldom talked about science. But every moment, every day of those five odd years was a great exposure and learning on science for the students. They learnt science by seeing their teacher do science. They learnt science by doing what their teacher did. He never asked the students to do anything. Freshers learnt a lot of science by interacting with the senior research fellows of the lab. Whenever the teacher spoke, he would pop up one or two question once in a while that set each of the students in their own exploratory paths. After each one of them found themselves a few steps forward on the question, they would all come together for dinner and voice out their own mini-learnings on the question. The teacher never said if the students’ were right or wrong. He would only once in a while indicate that there might be other effective answers for the question. That was good enough a signal to relook the methods and strategies. But the key was that the students were never rushed for an answer. We had enough time to mull over the question and the methods we used to find the answers.

The learning space was characterized by a space where the students could formulate their own questions. This space was about exploring and finding answers for their questions. This space was about voicing their findings in their own way and provide scientific interpretation. Most of the times the students were far off the likelihood answers. But sometimes the students did come close to the answers. For the students such small moments of triumph was enough to push themselves forward, while the teacher moves on with a smile that only the most observant could actually see. More than the time and space for expression, this space was beyond any parameters of motivation. The students who come here, come with a willingness to learn. That is all. The spirit to learn defines this space.

The above method that I have described is probably one of the many cultures of learning and teaching that is highly endangered, for the modern portals of education are slowly but steadily wiping of such beautiful, harmonious and organic learning/teaching initiatives. Most of our problems are rooted to the systems of which we are a part. Unfortunately most of our systems lack such a exploratory and expressional space. We are bound by too many deadlines that are actually the lifelines of the system of which we are part. We are bound by a curricular framework, we are bound by a time limit set by a central authority, we are bound by the parent community who reach out learning only with exam-induced fears. More than all these bindings that seldom allows us to create a effective learning space, there is also a lack of motivation for the learning. ‘Student’ who ‘Learn for the purpose of learning’ are a highly endangered species. So is the learning spaces that provide rich and healthy experience.

Like the biology of environment management, the realm of education also has its own conservationist who are desperately trying to bring back this endangered species back to a healthy numbers. But for this scenario to change our evaluation methods will have to change. The methods of evaluation and assessment from ‘top’ at this point of time is actually governing our curriculum. The curriculum unfortunately is not tuned to actual needs of the life. The day the needs determines the curriculum, learning will be a more purposeful endeavour.

How Cultures Educate-Texts in Context

...The essential purpose of education is to facilitate emergence of new approaches to learning, to suit specific learning contexts.......Unfortunately today, learning seems to be fragmented and caught in various bureaucratic agenda.......Acquiring information and fine tuning skills have been the mainstay of our 'inherited' education system.....Our 'good teachers' surely work extremely hard at this!......The results of 'good schools' are there as proof!......Does mere acquisition of information/knowledge and skill guarantee understanding?.....Is the present system perpetuating a set of practices which are counter-productive to the very skills which are the child's sole strength? (very specific to the context of my teaching practice)....Is there an alternative to the assessment system which remains the only gateway to further opportunities?.......This in a nutshell is my understanding of the above Articles and what my essay tries to analyse.

HOW cultures educate?

Thinking of my essay title.I think how cultures educate is as important as what cultures educate?In the context of Aditi and other international schools this poses a tougher challenge.Speaking from a recent experience....the other day I was talking about the British rule in India in standard six.We were discussing issues of freedom,exploitation etc when one student suddenly told me how good the British rule was for India.Frankly speaking I was taken aback initially and didnt know how to react to it at that moment.To add to my state of stupor the student's ideas were supported by many of her peers in class who firmly believed that the British Raj was the glorious era of India.Later I learnt that these children were either Britsh citizens or their grandparents were supporters of British.I must admit that now me and my team teacher have altered the lesson plan so that we could accomodate the thoughts of these students as well.A great lesson for me..........I realised the need and relevance of an unbiased curricula.Thank god we dont have textbooks in standard six.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Electronic text for PPSE

Hi Ms. Kini and Ms.Grover,
It’s just an idea. I was wondering that how nice it would be to have an electronic or digital format of the reading material for PPSE so that system savvy readers and writers can fill in their thoughts on the appropriate areas. It’s like highlighting certain parts of the test and jotting on the sides of the sheet. Things may be more user friendly then, provided we promote the use of technology.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'An Approach to Life-oriented Education'

I have mainly three articles in my mind( How Cultures Educate, International curricula and Texts in context: An EFA 2000 Review) that are interlinked in more than one ways and strengthen my convictions of perceiving learning as life oriented by making education socially, economically, and culturally relevant and nurturing a questioning mind that refuses to conform.

These three articles tender a School Vision that is akin to my thinking and provide the philosophical imperative for both national and international realms of teaching and learning.

The title of my essay would probably be as follows:

'An Approach to Life-oriented Education'

Need Curriculum info!

What sort of curriculum do we follow at MAIS at the primary level?
Any feed back will be welcome!!!!!

24th nov
Guess not much info is coming in!! Mean bunch I have here!! Guess I would be better off with the likes of Pollard and Gardner. A 'menage a trois' !!

Adding to Tara's tips on formal writing

One more for the list...

Please avoid the use of he/she/it or other similar options separated by forward slashes ('/'). Formal writing usually involves the use of 'or' in such situations.

Some points to note

Now that some writing is appearing in this blog space, I would like to draw the attention of all PPSEites to some rules of formal writing:

  • Avoid the use of short forms like i.e. and etc.
  • Use a space after a punctuation mark, not before
  • Avoid redundancy of words and phrases, like "sufficient enough" "In order to" "Needless to say". Keep the style crisp.
  • Every time you quote an author, attach the date of the publication in brackets. Use the surname of the author, with the first name as an initial. For example, when you quote Anita Rampal, you would write: Rampal, A. (1997) states that.......
  • In the bibliography or reference list that is mandatory at the end of the essay, the author's name would appear in alphabetical order in the same fashion.

I may add to this list as I read formal writing from you, so please watch out!! Do add to this list and if you disagree with any of these 'norms' we can always talk it through!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A link

Please read most of my essay here: http://www.ppsekoshyav.blogspot.com . Thanks.

Learning is fun

How cultures educate? very interesting and lucid article.the first few lines actualyy caught my fancy....I imagined being transported to the wonderfull school at Reggio.A similar school I had read about was in Japan.The name of the book is Toto Chan.....the girl who wrote about her school and her principal.The setting was much earlier in the second war era.Situated in a similar idyllic surrounding as the Reggio Toto Chan's school was a place where children enjoyed themselves and also did some learning too.'This engaging series of childhood recollections tells about an ideal school in Tokyo during World War II that combined learning with fun, freedom, and love. This unusual school had old railroad carriages for classrooms, and it was run by an extraordinary man- its founder and headmaster, Sosaku Kobayashi- who was a firm believer in freedom of expression and activity.'...taken from eklavya.org
We have had similar experiments in India as well.Rabindranath Tagore wanted to have 'classrooms without rooms',where nature would be the best teacher.Thus he opened his dream school...Shantiniketan where students actually fidnot have any classrooms to begin with and where 'leaning was a joyful activity.

science education in India

I have read the article on science education I would like to post my views on the same.

International Curricula: Important ......yes/no?

It is only obvious for me to choose to do an essay on this piece of reading since it is from my side of the world.....elementary school. It surely is an honor to interact with children in this part of the school as we happen to be the first impression makers in their minds which can be compared to a sponge all clean and new waiting to be dipped. Indeed it is these first few years which are important and stays with him till he takes on the world. So to help him understand what is expected of him and most of all to nurture his ever growing curiosity and sustain his love for learning a common curriculum is important.

School Science - emphasize on skills?

These are the ideas that struck me on the articles by Rampal, Bartlett and Gardner. All of them in a sense talk about having a curriculum that is in a sense"life-oriented"- All learning international, domestic, culture specific- all should have its roots in real life contexts and situations. How far this is possible in various societies is the question. In an academics driven(or should I say examination driven) society like India- how much is and can be done to increase context or skill based learning is open to discussion.Is content more important than context, is it less important or are both on par with each other?Hope to hear views from others.

A few thoughts emerging from a reading of Anitha Rampal's "School Science in Search of a Democratic Order"


Changing social, political and economic scenario dictates content and methodology of science.

New discoveries/knowledge - rapidly changing perspectives- have we kept pace?

Science in Aditi- more lateral than vertical – progression of skills/concepts?

Skills to be taught in primary- communication, group work, information retrieval and time management - skill application not in isolation

Context related science teaching –problems in high school where content is master to great extent?

Technology/ integrated curriculum frameworks and roles in Science education- How far are we and how can we make it better?

Learning Science: Collaborative Approach as a Means

At last, the day finally appeared and it was the ‘Physics Day’ at Aditi. Till then, I was standing like an island in an ocean clueless as to what actually was behind Aditi’s understanding of science. One of the questions that pondered most frequently was how well applied science is being inculcated among Aditi pupils. ‘Science Day’ was a critical eye opener.

Geography as a subject has so much to do with the physical process of the world. Hence, we might for the time being look at it directly as a science based-subject. In this context, I would like to deal with my own understanding of Geography in School. The curriculum prescribed by both IGCSE and ICSE is sufficient enough to bring about application-based skills, though the board exam might restrict us to some extent with time constraint.

Every teacher has to cover a vast load of content for every different class within the given time. Coupled with this efforts of the teacher instilling application based skills and exploring collaboration possibilities with in and outside the school is an important aspect. Let us now look at ways of approaching it. One, the teacher may be well versed with content, but limited to certain kinds of understanding of concepts and application. For instance, my students from Class 07 studied the structure and function of the Shola forest in the Western Ghats. They analysed a case study of destruction of Sholas in Kudremukh region. My expertise was limited on the controversy of the mining issue in the Shola forest. A collaborative approach would certainly have filled the gap. Anitha Rampal, 1993, in the same tone clarifies the issue of science application as to ‘whether science is for liberation or modernisation’. If I were to teach Shola forest and Kudremukh mining independently without connections, then perhaps students would opt for the latter case i.e. ‘science for modernisation without a forethought for ethics.

However, the second aspect is to seek expertise (at least, when the issue is being dealt for the first time) in exposing students to a recent and an elaborate dimension to the issue. In this context, seeking expertise from an external agency such as an NGO has certainly brought about the understanding of the context (Kudremukh) into the content (Shola forest).

This thought basically stems from the experience of the strong resistance put up by the people of Kerala on the ‘Silent Valley’ issue. It was the strong group, Kerala Sahitya Shasthriya Parishad’ – KSSP, that emphatically advocated the context of ‘science for liberation’ in education, which saw the shelving of the controversial project in the state. Hence, science for a developing nation with in the space of Aditi might have to be looked at as a better opportunity to choose ‘science for liberation instead of unethical modernisation’. I’m wonder if this is part of Aditi culture…?!

In this direction, I intend to ask two or three questions to end this article. The answers will be obtained from the academic year or from the next.

1. How frequently could I lead discussion from concept (content) to application (context)?
2. What is the extent of collaboration possible within and outside the given parameter of time?
3. Finally, how do I sustain the momentum of enthusiasm and continuity of application among students that would bring about a sense of passion in the subject?

Indeed, science education throughout the year should be several ‘science days’ and not just a tale once executed and forgotten. Sustaining certain contextual interests may start a new long journey of developing new interests. This in other words also questions our ability as teachers to convince interested students to pursue careers which maybe less heard of or unknown to them.

At last!

Thanks Raji. Will put in my brief shortly.

SCIENCE CURRICULUM
Industrial revolution paved way for the growth and development of science and technical education in the west and slowly spread to the east. Science education in this initial period of gestation focussed mainly on creating artisans and tool makers to follow a set of instructions and implement them rather than discovery studies leading to inventions. Anita Rampal talks about how the science curriculum transformed itself from applied concepts of mechanics and agricultural chemistry to abstract version in the 19 century, emphasising the idea of creating scientists. Even today school science curricula is exceedingly abstract and not related to pupil's reallife situations, leading to an attitude of disinterestedness among them, in most of the schools. As Eggleston states “purpose of math curriculum isnot only to enable pupils to learn mathematics, but also some to realise that they cannot learn mathematics. Today more and more concepts are taught with the notion that they may be of use “someday". Many schools are still basing their curriculum on the academic educational needs, and weighing it with respect to other similar schools. Very few schools like Aditi are following a skill based education. Students need to recognise areas whichinterests them and schools should be a platform to nurture those skills which will mould the pupil rather than being just academically oriented.Today's science curriculum needs to be friendly and understandable and not content rich.What do we want to learn? The written curriculum.The ISCP states that there should be a balance between the search for understanding, the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills, the development of positive attitudes and the opportunity for positive action. These according to ISCP are the 5 essential components of the written curriculum. The ISCP also believes that it is vital to address the positiveattitudes consciously, professionally and explicitly within the written curriculum. We also need to design activities and assessment strategies which promote positive attitudes. Some of them are Appreciation, Commitment, Confidence, Cooperation, Creativity, Curiosity, Empathy, Enthusiasm, Independence, Integrity, Respect, and Tolerance. Every school needs to first work on the programme of enquiry in science by active collaboration with the teachers and the heads of the departments. Some of the expected ISCP student learning objectives in science are, to beInquirers, Thinkers, Communicators, Risk-takers, Knowledgeable, Principled, Caring, Open-minded, Well balanced and Reflective. In other words every student needs a. to have a sense of wonder about the physical and material world b. use the process skills of science to reinforce, change, or reflect their existing ideas c. gather, record organise, interpret and present scientific data in different forms, d. to hypothesise and speculate responses to unfamiliar problems e. acquire an understanding of significantscientific concepts f. Treat their environment with sensitivity and respect g. Appreciate the tentative nature of scientific ideas, g. Make informed decisions based on scientific knowledge h. Reflect upon their methods and conclusions. In addition to this every student needs to view and understand any concept from different perspectives, like math perspective or science perspective. Science teachers need to increase emphasis in areas ofplanning, teaching and assessment. Planning: planning collaboratively using an agreed, flexible system, based on agreed student learning outcomes, andinvolving students. Addressing assessment issues through the planning process, recognising a range of ability levels.
Teaching: Using a range and balance of teaching strategies, using multiple resources, viewing students as thinkers and empowering them to feel responsible in their own learning. Pursuing open ended inquiry and real life investigations. Akshara is an initiative by an individual, Ravi Aluganti based in Madanapalle in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh. Ravi Aluganti’s work involves dividing his time between 15 government schools in the Madanapalle mandal – working with the teachers and children there to make class sessions more enjoyable, effective and useful. He is working with government schools with the following objectives:
1.To train government school teachers in multi-grade teaching.
2.Research and develop learning material in various areas of primary education, develop a resource center for teacher training.
3.Facilitate teacher interaction from various schools to share knowledge, skills and experience.
4.Organize art and craft activities for teachers and children to develop their creative skills as well as learn more traditional subjects such as Math, Life sciences using arts activities.
5.Initiate parental involvement in the school.
6.Organize simple science experiments for teachers and children to encourage experiential learning.
www.learningnet-india.org/lni/data/groups/gsp/tnst/index.php
Assessment: Using a range and balance of recording and reportingstrategies, involving the students in shared reflection at the end of each unit, and involving them in peer and self assessment. Also seeking student responses in order to understand their current conceptions.
Parallel to building the essential science skills, transdisciplinary skills like Social skills, Research skills, Thinking skills, Communication skills and self-management skills ought to be developed. Today teachers and schools should not blindly follow the vast text book info with lots of irrelevant content. Students should not be tested based on whether they can memorise and regurgitate that mighty info. It is a common concern in most schools and colleges. This fact is very well reflected in rural sector students taking up science courses at the univ level or professional courses. It is also perceived to be extremely difficult for foreign students pursuing studies here. Some of them might have been very good in their basic science concepts, but failure to handlethe huge burden of content puts them down. Constraints of “must study" situations also make them lessoriented towards the subject and there is a tendency toloose focus in the long run. facilities at higher levels.
PROBLEMS AND PERSPECTIVES IN TODAY'S TECHNICAL EDUCATION
Significant as the achievements in creating facilities for technical education in the country over the last three decades are, there appears a good need now for total review of the system that has been built up, with a view to make it more relevant and effective to the national needs. For historical reasons, the technical education system has been more or less inward looking. The professional engineer or technologist is not a solitary individual unconnected with the happenings in the other spheres of the system. Of immediate concern, perhaps, for the professionals is, no doubt, the chosen field of his profession but the interaction with the allied professionals, as also the neighbouring community has also to be taken into account to determine the professionals, place in the whole system.
'Wastage' in the System - The Institute of Applied Manpower Research made a study of this problem some time ago. From a survey made by the Institute of the reaction of a few of the students that had undergone these courses, the possible reasons for wastage were stated to be:
(i) lack of necessary aptitude for the course among the concerned students;
(ii) inadequacy of instructional facilities;
(iii) ineffective teaching, possibly because of the teachers not being trained; and
(iv) a heavy curriculum. Valid as these reasons are even today, there may be many other contributory factors also such as: (i) non-selective admission of students to the institutions;
(ii) changing mix of urban and non-urban background of students without corresponding modifications/orientation of educational methods contributing to the detriment of the non- urban element;
(iii) inadequate utilisation of even the existing instruction facilities;
(iv) in spite of adequate capital investment and hardware provided in the institutions quite often, the lack of appropriate matching provision for adequate departmental operating and training costs;
(v) insufficient development of the correct attitudes to the professional education by both the teachers and the students; and
(vi) external factors, such as lack of motivation because of inadequate or assured employment opportunities at the end of the course.
Methods to rectify this problem may be as follows.
(1) Intensive study of this problem of wastage is very necessary. This is needed on both academic and planning considerations. Any effort for improvement of existing courses, introduction of new courses, diversification of programmes etc. would be helped a great deal by such feedback information as would be available from such a study. From the planning point of view, any effort to reduce wastage would contribute to the efficiency of the system as such and thus provide for out-turn of additional manpower that may be required without further inputs.
(2) Improvement of the System - Any efforts at improvement of the system have naturally to take into account the various elements which contribute to its weaknesses . Under the " Quality Improvement Programmes " some steps have been taken to tone up that aspect of the system which concerns the teaching-learning process. Apart from these efforts, which, of course, require to be strengthened to a very great extent, there are other steps which might enhance the effectiveness of the system. Some of these are enumerated below :
(a) Special remedial courses for non-urban/non-elite students It would appear that the courses at present offered, based as they are on urban aptitudes, situations and characteristics, tend to cater to the needs of the elitist group. A majority of the students are from the non-urban sectors and from the institutions in the mofussil/interior areas. The background of the students also is not uniform. in that many of the students may be first or second generation learners. Because of the lack of communication facilities on the same basis as his urban counterpart, such a student would require to be given special orientation/remedial course to be brought on par with the other students. Not only that, even the programmes sometimes have to be appropriately changed to suit his non-urban experience and background.
(b) Multiple entry and flexibility - At present the attitude and aptitude of the students who take these professional courses have no obvious relationship with the professional courses offered to them. Quite often both because of the lack of aptitude, or absence of developing the correct attitude, or because of various other factors such as the duration of the course, the sudden change the student has to undergo in the professional courses as compared to his earlier academic experience, etc., have an adverse effect on his performance. The present system is rather a straight jacket one, with more or less a single entry point and perhaps a rigid course structure. To allow for different types of contingencies, It is necessary to think in terms of multiple entry points (depending upon the earlier academic/field experience) as well as of flexibility of the course structure and organisation.
(3) Need for review of course content - It is necessary to have a good look at the courses being offered now not merely for the organisational purposes of "graded" facilities. Mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and complete knowledge by itself does not give the necessary wisdom. The purpose of education is not to produce " educated " individual at one stretch by putting all information and knowledge into course at one time, but, on the other hand, it is to take the individual to progressive stages where he would be in a position to acquire what further information and knowledge he wants for his future activities. If we accept this philosophy, it is to be conceded that what is important is not to " load " the curriculum but to arrange it in such a way that different requirements and needs of the individual's calling are provided in the process of life-long education.
(4) Improvement of teaching methods-Production of textbooks, other teaching material and teaching aids which have been started now on a small measure have to be considerably stepped up.
(11) Integration of practical training with the institutional courses.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Culture specific pedagogy and educational process- an introductory draft.

After going through both essays I have found that whatever discussed in it is narrowing down to certain very specific aspects of education, what it should be, how it could be ect… A kind of
‘content-form’ dynamics as we talk in the area of art.

Gardner
Gardner’s essay provides a detailed narration of most effective schooling methods and a socio- politico- cultural background on which those schools are thriving. In the introduction he gives an idea of the locality its socio- politico- cultural backgrounds and school infrastructure. As the writer himself suggests that ‘the infrastructure and the school architecture and displays do not differentiate Reggio School from other schools’, he emphasize the role of the philosophy and the circumstances on which Reggio Schools came to exist, function and create the difference.

This difference itself is the cultural differences - in a sense. Here Gardner also discusses about its adaptability related aspects and problems in other situations providing examples on learning methodology in different cultural conditions (China and West or mimetic and constructive). This gives insights to culture specific learning.

In the area of education this culture reflects in the pedagogy. The ways children are educated to explore and understand in a disciplined and peaceful manner in Reggio results in the creation of a variety of learning methods. Here the pedagogy is nicely woven in to many aspects child individual and her personality and her ability to function in a given situation. The culture here, in fact, inculcates an ability to freely explore a variety of methods in learning as expressing/ transferring the knowledge in to intelligible forms. (Most observers agree that the works are not cute throw- aways by young children; many are substantial and evocative creations. page 88 para1)

One thing Gardner stress in all this is the concept of multiple intelligence and learning based on it.

Anitha Rampal
Anitha Rampal on the other hand discusses about the various ground situations in Indian educational/ schooling scenario. The stress here are, need for decentralised education thus a sort of culture specificity- as she speak about tribal societies- and new concepts such as DPEP. The success of DPEP is still a matter of debate even as she call it a success in Kerala (Not so in all sense).


Reflection
Reflecting up on this and my own practice I would like to work on few areas:

· What is the take away for an educationist from this?

· Another thing that I would like to extend a bit more is the analysis of two essays as I thought it would give some perspective to what these essays really aiming for as I understand it, though the real objective is to connect them to own practice and not a comparison.

· Now, coming on once own practice- the systems followed in many good schools in India such as Aditit or Vasant Valley that I taught earlier have a perception closer to Reggio schools and do not differ much in philosophy or pedagogical system though it may lack behind Reggio schools in a huge way in the actual application. This is mainly because of the examination system they are affiliated to- some thing that Anitha Rampal discussing. So the context here needs to be traded carefully and my attempt would be discussing certain aspects about it.

In all this light, I may need to go back a little to my own schooling days and make relationships in order to give a better picture of my own practice now.

Further than this, I think It would be worth to discus a bit on what ‘culture’ is really meant in these context and where do we locate education/pedagogy in terms of culture- culture that educate, education that culture ect… If that is the case what are the ground realities that an education system India faces.

I also hope that all this make sense to the reader as well.

What is Assessment?

The following is an effort to redefine 'Assessment' for my understanding and clarity. This is a sequel to the Assessment workshop we have had. I shall continue to write and elaborate on the theme.
Assessment is a continuous process of student evaluation by means of varied mechanism intended to bring about excellence in learning and teaching of the entire curriculum and enable sharing of meaningful feedback among the students and teachers and parents.

International curricula more or less important in Primary level

Introduction

The first few years in school are most important in a child’s life. I believe that, most minds respond to a variety of learning at that age group. So it is important that the curriculum is also developed in a manner that prepares the child to respond to a variety of learning strategies in later part of life. In a situation were the world is globalizing rapidly and opening up to dramatic developments in all walks of life, a global outlook and a philosophy is necessary, taking into considerations the local cultural flavor. A serious concern among educators across the world is a certain lack of philosophical thread across organizations providing International education, and most learning curriculums are adhoc and lacks a vision that threatens to prevent a harmonious integration of the primary years with the further learning. The problem is further compounded by the primary teachers lacking in training in curriculum development. So invariably the primary teachers function as deliverers of learning modules rather than co-owners of learning curriculum. This lack of an organic bonding with the curriculum development mostly ends up in a sense of helplessness and frustration. Also until recently there was no International curriculum that was acceptable across the international teaching and learning community.

Importance of International Curriculum

The above back ground does portray clearly that the teachers as well as the schools must free themselves from the burden of producing their own curriculum. Even in situations were the curriculum was relevant and borne out of pragmatic needs. They were so far and rare that few benefited from the positives. Also in a scenario were many schools worked with many different curriculums, evaluation of learning became very difficult or at times impossible as essential learning across schools or across curriculum could rarely identified. In this light the evolution of a clear, coherent curriculum for international primary schools becomes a choice less necessity.Also considering the fact that I am a PE teacher, I could say with confidence that Physical Education is one subject were International Standardisation is possible and very relevant. An Internationally acknowledged PE curriculum could definitely raise fitness standards amongst learners and also different game skills and activities that could ultimately reflect on other spheres of their life.

My Journey towards a structured curriculum

When I started a career, I never thought that the school should have a structured curriculum for PE. The students should go to the ground and play. This is the exposure and experience I had in my initial years. The reason behind this was diversity of the strength that each class had. As a teacher I did not have a constructive program to accommodate the multiple strengths that a batch of 50 – 60 students exhibited. Even though the students were asked to work on fitness and games, there was no planning and documentation.
And so, the program was free flowing or rather more appropriately said, unstructured. The other reason, I was sub-ordinate to another teacher and so changes in program or novelties were not well appreciated.
Alkhor International School, Qatar showed me a new way as I was the only anchor. Though I would not say that PE program as the best structured program, my first step towards a better structured program was taken with a serious intent there. Neither this stint, I would say was truly satisfying. Yet a constructive first step was taken.
It was newly started school. Space, time and resource for new initiatives were abounding in the new setup. In this school for the first time in my practice, in my mind, I had scheduled timing for different games and different skills. The students as a result of this small initiative from my side took a lot of interest in learning different skills and activities that would help them play many games. This had not only given a great confidence boost to my learners, but the abounding interest levels also made me think further on bringing in new skill-based PE activities. None of the above details though had a document form to it.
Mallya Aditi International School really gave me exposure to documented planning. This is due to the practice already existing in the school, the team teachers who really believe in planning and documentation. The extremely supportive administration and timely expert inputs is best in the field which really help me as a teacher to work on a structured planning and documentation. This also helps me to work more efficiently. The other aspect that worth mentioning is the professional development programmes the teachers were exposed too is a fantastic part of any teachers’ career. In this way the school helps the teacher to update their knowledge in the field of education. This development programmes helps me to work as a confident teacher. Here I have really understood the importance of the structured planning and documentation of the curriculum.

Bloggin' PPSEites (pronounced PIPsites?!)

SO good to see this common group blog 'in action'! I hope it helps at least some, if not all, members of the PPSE team, as you all aggregate, sort, evaluate & sift your thoughts for the essay.

Neela, those questions you raised reminded me of an exercise I did during my Ed.M. and have often discussed with Tara. The assignment was to write a paper on the "Purpose of Schooling" (note: Schooling NOT Education). We had to deliberate on the topic and articulate a purpose (it was a very personal and soul-searching exercise). But it did not end there. We had to also describe how our "purpose" translated into pedagogy and school practice AND also give an example of a real school that reflected (at least to some measure) our purpose in action.

It was probably the most difficult but also the most relevant piece of writing I did during my Masters - and it's not hard to see why.

My point is, it's hard to answer the questions you raised, but a very worthwhile endeavour to mull over them and see what answers you - as a practising educator, come up with for yourself (not necessarily to share with others).

Good Luck!

Hi there!

Hey!
It's good to be blogging again! It's amazing how much work you can get done when you're up against a deadline... we should have more of them!

It has been very very confusing even selecting a topic - I've just changed my mind about what I'm going to be doing - I'm now working on the Kevin Bartlett essay on the PYP. I thought it would be a good idea to compare the rationale of the PYP with our philosophy and practise in school. Of course, our programme also draws on the National Cirriculum, UK.

The IBO website is really useful for information on its three-tier programme and the hows and whys of its existence.

Koshy - I couldn't agree more with you about the need for simpler language in pedagogical writings. After all, most teachers are not theorists!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hello

I was reading Neela's entry and my rough draft and want to rewrite what I have written. My feeling is that writing about Education is becoming a bit too theory oriented and is developing its own fixed jargon, which is probably a good thing. It helps us to hold discussions when we use the same terms. But the jargon is becoming too complicated because of too much research being done in the field, whch is probably a bad thing. I want to try and recast my essay in a simple way so that even those who haven't been given a brief on what we were supposed to do will understand it. Many of us want to write on Bartlett and Gardner becasue they write in a manner that is easy for comprehension. That seems to be a point I need to think much about. Any comments?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sharing & Learning Together

Trying to focus.
Reading, skimming, reading,glancing, reflecting,browsing reading and feeling confused as to what to take up as the main argument of my essay was the dilemma.
Let me just talk about a few things that came to my mind which apparently do not have much to do with the article I have chosen but still have been-believe it or not - sparked off by reading this article.
Science for liberation- what is liberation? Liberation from what- do we not like to belong? and seek safety in numbers and structures and under leadership and protection and guidance and....
Prosperity through Cultivation of Scientific temper- a notion very akin to communism.
A marathi shloka says, give people only what they need and deserve because anything more is not digested by them and indigestion can invite many more illnesses. Mind you- give them what they NEED and also what they DESERVE. Who decides what people need and who decides what they deserve? Who is the giver?
Religion-state-universities-societies-cultures-natural disasters. What drives education policies? what perpetuates education/knowledge/technologies/wisdom/ignorance/inequality/suppression/oppression/rebellion/insights/wisdom/knowledge/education/technologies/...
Socio-economic factors, Socio-political factors, Politico-economic factors
What does not influence education?
What is education?
what is holistic education?
what is the real difference between the so-called ignorant/uneducated and the knowledgable/educated?
There is a term in marathi-"sushikshit adani" meaning 'well educated ignorant'.
Popular science, general science, basic science,school science, home science, graduate level science,cutting-edge science, pure science, scoutboy science,elite science, esoteric science,science-fiction!!!
Can education bring wisdom?
What is science?
How different is scientific enquiry from religious enquiry?
How different is delight in science different from delight in poetry?
Every communiction is actually a miscommunication.
Very few things have only dennotative meanings.
And this is where Frederic Vester could have come in.
But now I still have one more day to decide whether I want to bring him in or not.





Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hi I am there too!

Made it!

Finally , I'm there!!!! Thanks Neela for the tech support.

Call of the pedagogue

I have counted eight members of the PPSE clan who have made it to this blog. That leaves 13 more out in the cold. Do rush in at least with one line to start with and make sure you post your thoughts or responses to the readings for this assignment by the end of this week - that is before you surface on Monday to be precise! Those who have made good headway in your essay, please spare a few minutes to respond to the posts that your colleagues put up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Trying to blog

Let's see if this gets posted.

A new door of dialogue and togetherness is open

Phew!!

I finally remembered my username and password!! Good to be here!

joined

Me too!
Balakrishnan

All smiles.

Iam very happy i could remember my username and password.
Looking forward to share and learn again.

I am in it too!

This is working just great today, it is going to be lovely discussing the readings on it.

Hi everyone,

An excellent facility, once again.

Thanx

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

testing

hi everyone. this is good. now i can discuss editing my article and also other people's stuff on this ppse group blog. everyone please join in and make it proactive. koshy

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How to post your comment

Open the home page of this blog site by typing in www.blogger.com/home and you will see a blog site called Sharing and Learning Together which is hypertexted. Click on that and you will get an optiion to Create a post. Click on that and post your thoughts.

For all this you can use your existing username and password that you have for your own blog.

Tara