Monthly Archives : February 2015

Participation in activity without reference to outcome is key to learning


As long as we look for reasons not to learn, education will elude us.

Recently my daughter asked me, “How come we never thought about bunking classes at our school?” She observed that it would have been really easy to skip out on some of the extra-curricular sessions, particularly music or craft, which were handled by part-time teachers. The structure and layout of the building also would have made it relatively easier for truant students to go undetected.

This made me stop and wonder why it was that so many students in college routinely look for reasons not to attend class.

“Well,” said her father, “Maybe that’s because you enjoyed the classes, or that you had a good bunch of friends you were happy to be spending time with — in class or outside.”

Hmm, I thought. So did that mean that in college, students did not enjoy their classes? Or that the nature of the peer influence is different? (I admit both are true to a large extent.) But it was also something more than that. It was that the school had fostered a culture of respect for learning spaces of different kinds, a culture where even if a child was bored or uninterested, she/he was never disdainful. All this was done without the usual preachy righteousness that often accompanies the imposition of “discipline” in schools.

Shanta Rameshwar Rao

One person who was had nurtured such a culture was educationist Shanta Rameshwar Rao, who passed away last month. This column has not usually been about people, and even less about institutions. But Mrs. Rameshwar Rao’s influence on the children who spent their childhood in her school has been significant in ways that have transcended those years. Unpacking the nature of this influence tells us something about how attitudes to learning can be built.

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Allowing for little liberties and ensuring a pleasant atmosphere at home can help remove one’s fear of exam.

With the onset of March and April comes the examination fever. This engulfs not only students but parents and teachers as well. The level of stress that people undergo because of this was totally unheard of 25 to 30 years back. Perhaps people lived in a simpler and less-competitive world where each child was expected to perform according to his capabilities alone.

Handling stress

How do students handle the examination stress? Preeti, counsellor, A.M.M.Matriculation and Higher Secondary School, says, “If students plan well for the examination and are confident about their preparation, they will definitely be able to tackle exam stress. For this, the students should avoid last-minute studying.” With years of experience in the field behind her, she observes, “Apart from sound preparation, students should face an exam with a positive thought. That I can and will do my best should be the mantra.” On the topic of how interested adults can help, she says, “School counsellors can also adopt preventive counselling methods wherein they can talk to students about some effective study and relaxation techniques.”

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There are many ways we can attune ourselves to moving away from the box we confine ourselves into.

“Have you ever smelt the colour red or tasted a triangle?” This question was asked by a guest lecturer in our class ten years ago and for a moment, we were speechless. We employed our usual weapon of self-defence, laughter, to hide our confusion and ignorance, but it was quite a journey, discovering a very interesting phenomenon in the human body called synaesthesia. Apparently, many of us have this gift (or condition, depending on how you view it) as children and lose it as we grow into adulthood. The lecturer shared many stories and incidents about people who retained this state and even showed us works of artists who created in the state of Synaesthesia.

Synaesthesia, at its simplest level, is a process in the brain where one of our senses is understood or interpreted as if it is received by another sense. So, for example, while seeing boats sailing in sea, you would taste strawberries! Or every time you saw the colour red, you would hear the sound of violins. Neurologists are still discovering more layers to this whole process. There are numerous books and resources available online on this subject. ‘Wednesday is Indigo blue’ by Richard Cytowic explores this subject in detail.

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As the country’s digital literacy programme gains thrust, awareness about digital safety has become more important than ever.

The principal of a top Gurgaon school summoned us minutes before our Internet Safety Students’ Workshop to ask, “What are you going to tell my middle school children, so that they don’t get ideas that were not there before?”

At a progressive school in Noida, the principal interrupted with concern, “By telling them not to put their real names online, we will be asking them to lie!” We explained the logic, “We will tell the children to simply use their first names, not their full names. This way, they will not be identifiable by strangers.” She smiled and nodded.

When we began educating children on Internet Safety back in 2009, the subject was completely neglected by all stakeholders — parents, teachers, students, schools, institutions, corporates and NGOs as well as the government. Five years down the line, things haven’t changed much. There is still an absence of structured instruction in schools, scheduling a one-hour awareness workshop continues to be a herculean challenge and, shockingly, less than 10 per cent of youth are vaguely aware that laws exist to govern cyberspace.

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The disciplinary boundaries between the arts and sciences are set in stone in most Indian colleges, both literally and metaphorically. The pure sciences and related disciplines like microbiology, electronics and nanotechnology are typically housed in a separate building from departments like English, history and journalism. Once a student opts for a particular stream, he can bid farewell to studying subjects offered by the other. Very few colleges in India offer programmes that allow students to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries between the Arts and Sciences. And due to this narrow, streamlined mindset, many students hold misconceptions about a liberal arts education, even when they are applying to foreign universities.

Learning across disciplines can help you broaden your perspectives.

Broaden perspectives

Students who are inclined towards the sciences and related fields tend to eschew applying for programmes that offer a Liberal Arts education. However, the rationale for this decision is misplaced as one can avail of an excellent science education in a liberal arts college.What liberal arts entails is that a student takes courses across multiple disciplines while specialising or majoring in a subject of one’s choice. Thus, a student can major in chemistry but has to take a prerequisite number of courses across an array of disciplines ranging from anthropology to women’s studies, to philosophy.


“But what is the point of taking

A survey shows students are increasingly opting for universities with a strong digital infrastructure.

Gone are the days when classrooms were limited to a monotonous teacher-student relationship based on rote learning from textbooks.

Today, students are opting for colleges and universities which provide a number of facilities. Technology has penetrated to a level where before opting for a college, students keep in mind various factors such as the use of digital tools in the teaching methodology, online classes, wifi facilities and so on.

Students across the world spend a large amount of time on digital platforms.

Mobile phones, computers, laptops and tablets have become indispensible for information as well as entertainment.

In such a scenario, there are several reasons why students opt for universities that have a digital presence. A digital platform is contemporary and extremely relevant today. It is mostly convenient and usable on the go; not as mundane as books and, thus, easier to engage with and, lastly, it can help generate interest among students and enable them to learn subjects better.

What students want

A recent worldwide survey by IT firm Accenture says that students seek the most promising digital capabilities and services while choosing a university. A total of 1,500 students were observed for this survey in mid-2014 (300 per country, including university-bound secondary students, current university students and recent university graduates).

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பி.எட். படிப்பு காலம் 2 ஆண்டுகளாக உயர்த்தப்பட்டுள்ளது. “பொறியியல் மற்றும் பி.டெக் படித்த மாணவர்கள் ஆசிரியர் பட்டப் படிப்புகளை படிக்க முடியும்” என்று தேசிய ஆசிரியர் கல்விக் கவுன்சில் தலைவர் சந்தோஷ் பாண்டா கூறியுள்ளார்.

ஆசிரியர் கல்விக்கான புதிய விதிமுறைகள் வகுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. இதுகுறித்து கல்லூரி தலைவர்களுக்கு தெரிவிக்கும் வகையில் தேசிய ஆசிரியர் கல்விக் கவுன்சில் மற்றும் தமிழ்நாடு ஆசிரியர் கல்வி பல்கலைக்கழகம் சார்பில் 2 நாள் கருத்தரங்கு சென்னையில் நேற்று தொடங்கியது. இதில் கலந்துகொண்ட சந்தோஷ் பாண்டா பேசியதாவது:

கடந்த 2009-ம் ஆண்டு வகுக் கப்பட்ட ஆசிரியர் கல்விக்கான விதிகள் மற்றும் கட்டுப்பாடுகள் நீதியரசர் வர்மா ஆணையத்தின் பரிந்துரைகள்படி கடந்த ஆண்டு மறுசீரமைக்கப்பட்டன. ஓராண்டு படிப்பாக இருந்த இளங்கலை மற்றும் முதுகலை ஆசிரியர் பட்டப் படிப்புகள், 2 ஆண்டுகளாக மாற்றப்பட்டுள்ளன. இதற்கான அரசாணை வெளியிடப் பட்டுள்ளது. இதற்கான திருத்தப் பட்ட கல்வித் திட்டமும், அரசா ணையும் கல்லூரிகளுக்கு அனுப்பப் பட்டுள்ளது. திருத்தப்பட்ட கல்வித் திட்ட அடிப்படையில் 2-ம் ஆண்டு பாடங்கள் குறித்து வரும் அக்டோபர் 31-ம் தேதிக்குள் கல்லூரிகள் முடிவு செய்ய வேண்டும்.

மேலும் படிக்க…

The education sector in India is no longer bound to just classrooms. Thanks to new start-ups and higher internet and smartphone penetration, the online learning space in India is growing manifold.

The e-learning market in India is estimated to be around $3 billion. The central government’s efforts to make available to students in every corner of the country is also aiding the sector.

Currently, online training in India focuses equally on both school and college-based courses as well as mid-level professional courses.

For instance, Bengaluru-based provides practice papers for all engineering and medical entrance tests in India. The company aims to help students focus on the right subjects and contents rather than swim blindly in an ocean of study materials available across different media. Also, they focus on convenience-based training because online capability enables students to get access to subjects anytime and anywhere.

For more details click here…