Sharing & Learning Together

Monday, November 21, 2005

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.

3 Comments:

  • Srini! This sentence "science education throughout the year should be several ‘science days’ and not just a tale once executed and forgotten" shouild be substituted with the name of every discipline and printed on the walls of Aditi. Aditi culture as I understand it, declares that education should be for liberation, for creating passions for inquiry! We do not run away from the fact that we do have constraints of time. That we have to help the kids do well in the exam that decides their admission to further institutions of learning. But why should we feel that if we celebrated each day as Science Day or Geography day or English Day or Math Day, we would not get the best grades that a child could achieve? It is a question of balancing the time and ensuring that the recall and writing skills needed for an exam are built into the liberating experience as excitingly as possible! Believe me it can be done!

    You have good ideas for the essay - some more referencing to substantiate your thoughts and your questions would make it more rigorous. Bina should have got the Education Dialogue journal copies in the library by now - do have a look - you may find interesting material there.

    By Blogger Tara Kini, at 6:22 PM  

  • srini waitng for you to expand.

    By Blogger a.v.koshy, at 12:02 AM  

  • Srini, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I agree with tara that the writing and recalling skills need to be balanced intelligently within the stipulated time by the science teacher.
    kalpana

    By Blogger kalpanau, at 1:44 AM  

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