Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Know your child

Know your child’s learning style and then support them to study.

As a child he/she learns differently. However, we can see the child has different styles of learning and which has been cut down to visual ie., look and learn, physical ie., learn by doing or audible ie., hear and understand the concepts. When we see these learning styles and then probably break down each of these learning three styles down even further and arrive at a handful of sub-levels.
Learning is complex, as the concepts are understood by everyone is unique in their own way. They learn in their own way a well.
1.     Visual: Children prefer to use pictures, images, diagrams, colours and mind maps. They take the slightest opportunity to do it colourful and present it very well.
2.     Physical: Children prefer learn by ‘doing’. Here they use their body to assist in their learning. Drawing diagrams on a chart paper to represent, using physical objects like magnetic boards to build a word, or role playing are all the strategies of the physical learner.
3.     Aural:  Children prefer using sound they understand the concepts. They prefer to learn using rhythms, music, recordings, and learn quickly the concepts.
4.     Verbal: Children can be a verbal learner and he /she prefers using words, both in speech and In writing to assist in their learning. They make the most of word based techniques, scripting, and reading content aloud.
5.     Logical: Children prefer the’ logical reasoning’ and ‘systems ‘to explain or understand the concepts. They aim to understand the reasons behind the learning and have a good ability to understand the bigger picture.
6.     Social: Children understand and enjoy learning in groups or with other people and have a good ability to understand the bigger picture.
7.     Solitary: Children learns or prefers learn alone and through self study. In reality many fall into this category. This depends on the learning style which he/she is. A combination of multiple styles helps them to solidify the learning that takes place.
 As a parent or as a teacher, we must always understand the preferences and engage them in a variety of styles. If we understand our children better it will be helpful and it will go a long way in learning retention.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

How to be a successful Preschool Teacher?

How to be a successful Preschool teacher?

I was so excited when I first visited a pre-kindergarten classroom and when I saw the colourful charts and the resource materials hanging all around the wall.  “Awesome” was the word I muttered spontaneously. Children were all looking at the colourful atmosphere. I saw the bulletin board also with a theme and decorated well by the teachers. I was applauding them for their creative work.

However, for all this I understood that the teachers did have a herculean task to make the things possible and the effort behind it was to be appreciated. Then I thought about what else is required in running a smooth classroom. I understood that not only a strong curriculum, a good daily plan and a sensible list of classroom rules, but a bit of tips and tricks in handling the kids will   help a teacher in preparing them to manage their classroom effectively. It is true that engaging preschoolers is too tough, but if the teachers adopt some of the mentioned below then her classroom will be at ease.
                                                                  
1.      Let us be extremely prepared: A teacher has to prepare and plan sufficiently. The items we use for that particular lesson plan must be prepared well and know the contents completely and the methodology or approach in teaching has to be planned and the resource materials required for executing the lesson plan must be planned and kept ready. One more important thing is the teacher should never sit and read a lesson to a preschooler as they will not get engaged, and their mind will wander soon.

2.       Let us always use a consistent attention getting cue: As a teacher, we have to train the class kids and use a cue or signal which they are prepared to listen. It can be counting one to five or clapping in a pattern or repeating the words like hands up and hands down. Preschoolers can be trained easily, but it should be consistent. Every time, we do it should be the same to enable the kids to establish cues and children of this age like routine and this will help you to complete your lesson much more smoothly.

3.      Let us teach with total enthusiasm: If one gets into a preschool, one can find there are no monotone voices. Teachers are all excited and their voices should be an inspiration to children and you can see them also jumping with excitement. If we are reading a story read the story for kids with all enthusiasm and this will make the story alive for the kids.

4.      Let us involve the children: When we involve the kids, they remember the events or fact or a story for a long time. Involve your kids and teach them to make appropriate sound effects and repeat the key phrases and allow them to relate to the story or rhyme or anything you intend to teach them. Let us do lots of repetition, as the more you do it will be better. The more the kids are involved they will give you less trouble and they will associate themselves with what you teach and it will stick to their heart.

5.      Let us keep it short and use a lot of variety: The attention span of a child is very less and basically they can focus on one topic for not more than ten to fifteen minutes.  Normally a kindergarten child can focus for fifteen minutes.  So, our lesson plans must be short and varied and have lots of fun element in it. As a teacher, she should be able to hold on to the topic very clearly and know what to deliver in that time.

6.      Let us give children a role to play: The teacher should give roles for kids to play and make them participate holding a prop or picture. Children, especially preschoolers need a bit of extra attention and the teachers should sense it and act accordingly with lots of patience.

Now, I could say to myself that these tips and tricks if implemented properly, a teacher can be successful and also have a stress free life.

- An article by Dr.Vatsala Iyengar, Program Coordinator, Preschool Teachers Training Institute


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Looking at writing as a learning tool

Looking at writing as a learning tool

C S Krishnamurthy, May 7, 2015, DHNS

Just like listening and speaking, reading and writing is another interestingly effective pair of communication. Firstly, students, by writing while reading, could learn to organise their thoughts. By adopting a reading-writing approach, a teacher could supply students with the guidelines that would make them more proficient learners.

Despite assertions that we learn to write by writing, writing in addition to communicating our ideas, makes profound contributions. As a powerful means of helping us solve  problems, writing makes us smarter, not withstanding that the acquisition of the craft of writing comes from reading.

Writing itself does not promote language or literacy development, the main argument being that those who write more need not write better, nor increase the aspect of literacy. But writing helps in other ways. Basically, we write for two reasons: The first and obvious one is to communicate with others (letters, emails, reports) and next, ourselves (notes, lists, reminders). The second is less obvious but keen and intense – we write to solve problems.

Here are some writing guidelines worth pondering about:

Planning

Many studies confirm that good writers have a plan before they actually start writing, a road map where they want to go. They are not always formal outlines, they are flexible. As they write, they come up with new ideas, they change their plans.

Rewriting

Mediocre writers write, good writers rewrite. The most fundamental strategy good writers employ, the one that distinguishes them clearly from mediocre writers, is the former accepting revision or rewriting as an integral part of the writing process. 

They understand that as they write, they emerge with new ideas and that it is in revision that the writers discover problems and solves them.  Average and poor writers often disregard revision  as a sign of weakness, drudging under the false belief that they must get everything right in the first draft.

Re-reading


Re-read frequently what you have already written, a strategy that helps to re-evaluate what you have done and come up with improvements.

Delay editing


Write first, edit later. Don’t edit while you write. A vital way in which good writers differ from poor writers is that the former do not stop on small aspects while working on their ideas. 

They delay editing until after an acceptable draft has been written, under the obvious pretext that the current draft is not be the final one. Treat grammar as a matter of late editorial chore. Focus on content in the first place.

Daily writing

Writing requires regularity, and the ideas that follow are the result of writing, as also the habit draws us into the moment.  Hence, one should schedule time and stick to it. There may be variability in scheduling the timings, number of pages/words per day, but the discipline is observed near-universal. 

Inspiration emerges from writing and not vice-versa. According to Woody Allen, “If you work only three to four hours per day, you become quite productive. It is the steadiness that counts”. You can write in a journal or text document, and blogging is highly recommended. It helps you to write regularly, makes you think in different ways, particularly when you have an audience (even if they are less).

A comparative study between writers with regular, moderate habit of writing  and “binge” writers for a five-year period revealed that the former category produced more than five times as much and all got promotion. Also, the “regular” writers were clearly more relaxed. Writing is an outlet, a way to put order in your head and heart. So put your thinking caps on and write away without any inhibitions.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Schooling teachers

Schooling teachers

Rama Kant Agnihotri, Bangalore, March 12, 2015, DHNS:
The new kid on the block is the age- old teacher, now in the avatar of ‘teacher education’. Every agency, national or international, is now suddenly talking about reforming teacher education as if that will solve all the problems that plague our education system. Irrespective of whether it is the MHRD, teacher training colleges or 
universities, open universities of India or UK or USA, local or international NGOs, everyone os focusing on teacher education right now. 
Setting down criteria
The National Council for Teacher Education, following the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee and after much debate and dissent, has finally published the guidelines for a two-year BEd, a two-year MEd, 4-years BElEd (Bachelor of Elementary Education), and an integrated MEd programme in addition to several other diplomas etc. Suddenly, it seems to have downed on people that increasing the length of the course is the key to all our woes. I am sure that’s not what the Committee had in mind.
From the romanticisation of the learner, we moved to romantic perspectives on 
curriculum and the materials. It is now the teacher. The new bandwagon, loaded with huge amounts of sterling pounds and dollars, is teacher training, particularly in the marginalised world. It is another matter that there are well-established ways of ensuring that the money flows back to the faculty and business of the country providing the support. 

On the other hand, we also have several leading scholars and practitioners who strongly suggest that teacher can only be treated as a worker; he/ she is meant to deliver only, not think, read or analyse. No training is therefore needed except the kind given to a delivery boy. Both the romantic and the sub-human perspectives are equally dangerous. Like any other human being, a teacher is entitled to a decent life and the freedom to think and try out her new ideas.

For some reason, people don’t even to seem to realise that we don’t even have as many teachers as we need and those that are there to be trained constitute a huge number. And the RTE demands that every teacher be trained! So, the agencies that be are busy training teachers almost overnight through both contact and distance modes. 

No localisationFor decades, we did not appoint any teachers. It is now acceptable to the country to have para-teachers of all kinds on much lower salaries without any assurance of their jobs being continued. DFID and the Open University, UK of course know it all, have solutions to all our woes and are ready to ‘roll out’ millions of teacher training units written indeed in collaboration with the Indian experts. There are deadlines to be met and money needs to be spent before a certain date. Voices of dissent in India are simply 
removed from the email ID loop. Projects are completed. No teacher gets trained in any meaningful sense. Since the materials are not contextualised in any sense to any local environment, they are largely not of much use.

As the generally misunderstood and ill-implemented concepts of activity based joyful learning, learner-centred curriculum, innovative materials, constructive and generative classroom processes failed to bring about any ‘revolution’, authorities thought that they should now turn their attention to teacher education. 

During the highly-charged DPEP days, the best that could be transmitted through the BRCs and CRCs to the rural school was for teachers to add an ‘activity period’ to their timetable and get children to make things with whatever they could collect from their surroundings. Though there were some substantive gains in terms of establishing new structures and involving competent teacher trainers, they soon disappeared as the flow of money was checked. Project based interventions are no solutions to issues that are a part of our being.

We do need to walk out of our romantic perspectives on education. It is a formal domain which needs formal and careful planning from all perspectives, the learner,   materials, teachers, teacher trainers, infrastructure and the community. We do tend to romanticise each one of these components and indulge in far too much rhetoric about education being an agent of social change. It is indeed a powerful structure of society for both transmission and construction of knowledge and for providing the society the kind of person power it needs.

So what do we need to do? First of all, we need to conceptualise education of children as a whole from KG to PG as the say in all its dimensions, with clearly defined goals and explicitly stated philosophical underpinnings. 

We need to ensure infrastructure that is friendly to all kinds of children, not just to the so-called ‘normal’ children of whom there are only some but also to children with different languages, different ‘learning problems’, hearing, visual or orthopaedic disabilities, children with dyslexia or cognitive deficits and bi-polars, safety for girls and prevention of child abuse; this list is indeed very long; the only way to handle this is to interrogate the concept of the ‘normate’ as Dr Bhattacharya says. We have yet to witness even a single school that is sensitive to all these issues. Teacher training can make sense only if we are aware of all the above. We need to fight for a ‘reformed’ system rather than keep saying that we should learn to function efficiently in an ‘unreformed’ system.
Once this is ensured, we indeed need the best of teaching materials and optimal levels of community participation. And we need professionally trained teacher educators. Our teachers deserve the most rigorous training and not a capsule-based training of 21 days in which a day is kept for gender sensitivity and another one for road safety etc. 

Our teacher training programmes must focus on conceptual clarity about the learner and the learning process; a solid grounding in their content areas and their pedagogical practices. We must also ensure spaces for sustained teacher growth where teachers can have access to their colleagues and trainers; to libraries and electronic media. We need build a ialogic space, conspicuously absent from our education system, between the school, college and university teachers.

Remember, there are no shortcuts and no cosmetic solutions would help.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Alumni extend a helping hand to Delhi government schools

Alumni extend a helping hand to Delhi government schools


Alumni extend a helping hand to Delhi government schools
NEW DELHI: School ties are just as strong for government schools and their alumni will do plenty for their institutions. An online alumni registry set up by the directorate of education in the summer of 2014 contains offers of scholarships, book and stationary donations, internships and jobs, legal aid and health-checks. Alumni have offered to help modernize libraries, tutor kids for free and fix laboratories.
"First I will start automating the library. By automating the library, I will provide various library services based on networking and internet... The school library will become a modern library," writes Jai Prakash Singh. He graduated from MB Road GGSSS Sector I, Pushp Vihar, in 1990 and started working at a Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi library in 2000. Ritu Ahlawat, geography teacher at Miranda House, Delhi University, wants to "assist school in [upgrading] of geography lab and conduct a small workshop/lecture for students and teachers." "A day's visit to the college lab can also be arranged for motivated students," she adds. Ahlawat graduated from GGSSS (No.1) Roop Nagar in 1991.The natural desire to hold forth on their own areas of professional expertise has led to some slightly odd though well-meaning offers - an MTNL employee proposes to teach kids about modern telephone exchanges, a RBI official about defective banknotes and an insurance salesman about the different types of insurance. But it also means health camps - Siddharth (no last name), a Ghaziabad dentist, has offered to deal with "any dental problem" at Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya Ludlow Castle - and legal-aid. Advocate Mahender Singh Yadav willing to make "any kind of contribution along with legal consultancy" to GBSSS Moti Bagh.
The alumni group also includes teachers. Subhankar Chakravorti, a retired government school teacher, wishes to help Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya (No.1) at Sarojini Nagar, which he left in 1966, "promote e-portal in education, so that needy student[s] can have easy access to free study materials." Several have suggested financial assistance - travel agency director, Pradeep Kumar can organize financial aid for students pursuing a medical or engineering degree; civil judge Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal can "sponsor one needy student," Basant Gupta, director of a private school, can "start a scholarship for students who get admission in SRCC (Shri Ram College of Commerce) Delhi and IIM (Indian Institute of Management) Ahmedabad"; and chartered accountant Virender Kumar can supply "books for science student of weaker section seeking to do medical course - one student per year (IX, X, XI, XII)."
Encouraged by successful use of alumni resources by the Government Boys' Senior Secondary School (No.1) in Shakti Nagar to add assets, Padmini Singla, director, education, had set up a "Delhi Govt School Alumni" registry online in the summer of 2014. The registry now has over a 1,000 registered alumni; the east district (there are 13 school districts in all ) has the highest number of registrations - 193. Their number is a tiny fraction of the total number of government school alumni in the city - Delhi government runs 1,008 schools - but many alumni are willing to spare both time and money for their schools. The majority wants to counsel but there's also the odd alumnus like Akhilesh Kumar from SBV (Prem Chand), Pocket II, Mayur Vihar Phase I, who will "be happy to work for clean and garbage-free school and nearby places."

Set up emergency response mechanisms, schools told

Set up emergency response mechanisms, schools told


Set up emergency response mechanisms, schools told
NEW DELHI: The Directorate of Education has asked all schools in Delhi to set up "emergency response mechanisms."

The emergency protocol is meant to help deal with situations like "natural disasters (such as earthquake), fire, violence, falls, stampedes, terror attacks, suicide attempts or children falling sick due to stale/contaminated midday meal etc," the circular, issued on Tuesday, stated.

The teams must include the head of the school, vice-principal or a senior teacher, two nodal teachers of Chacha Nehru Sehat Yojna, educational and vocational guidance and counselling or yoga teacher, physical education teacher, trained graduate teacher of natural or home science, two assistant teachers and two students each from classes IX and XI.

The DoE has also spelt out specific guidelines for rescue and help of differently-abled children and situations such as sexual harassment or assault, absenteeism and truancy and midday meal related problems. The schools have to report any case of sexual harassment within six hours of the incident coming to the fore.



In addition to administering first aid, organizing transport to hospitals and calling up for help, the response teams will also have to ensure that complete documentation of each case is maintained.

The circular also requires schools to have CCTVs in working order. However, response to NGO Pardarshita's RTI query shows that of 667 schools that replied, only 241 have CCTVs installed. "We have two schools in our area that do have CCTVs but not in working condition," Pardarshita's Rajiv Kumar said. "We wanted to know the exact status. Also, after the Peshawar school attack, Delhi Police had advised schools to have them installed.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Women under represented in higher education in India: Report

Women under represented in higher education in India: Report

New Delhi, Feb 11, 2015, DHNS:
Women continue to be under-represented in India's higher education leadership despite nine-fold increase in the government expenditure on the sector between 2007 and 2012, according to a British Council report. DH file photo

Women continue to be under-represented in India’s higher education leadership despite nine-fold increase in the government expenditure on the sector between 2007 and 2012, according to a British Council report.

While women constitute 44 per cent of the 27.5 million students in country’s higher educational institutions, they constitute just 1.4 per cent of the professoriate and 3 per cent of vice-chancellors in the universities, it noted. 

In most Indian universities, the representation of women academics is less than 40 per cent, added the report, titled 'Women in Higher Education Leadership in South Asia: Rejection, Refusal, Reluctance, Revisioning’.

“While in all categories of academic positions women are under-represented, this increases for higher positions. Thus, only 25.5 per cent of professors, 31.1 per cent of readers and associate professors, and 38.5 per cent of lecturers or assistant professors are women,” it noted, analysing a 2013 report of the government.

The report, prepared by the British Council in collaboration with the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER) of the University of Sussex, was released here at a two-day deliberation on the representation of women in higher education in South Asia. The event, organised by the British Council, concluded on Wednesday.

An analysis of the government data also indicated that women with disability represent only 1.9 per cent of the overall total number of academics in India. “Muslim women are also under-represented in Indian higher education, both in relation to male academics and overall. Of the Muslim academics, only 33.5 per cent are women, which is only 14.9 per cent of the total number of academics in India,” underlined the report.

The report found that women in higher education in South Asia, including India, were not prepared for leadership. There was also evidence that when they did aspire for leadership, they were frequently rejected for the most senior positions. Referring to interactions with women faculty, the report highlighted how the country’s universities’ selection procedures were “exclusionary and discriminated” against women. “First and foremost, most selection committees have only men. Very few have women. Most that I've gone through, have all men on the committee, for any position,” the report quoted a senior woman faculty.

The British Council suggested that educational institutions should adopt changes in work practices.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Shivaji University likely to start braille library


Shivaji University likely to start braille library


KOLHAPUR: Shivaji University's vice-chancellor N J Pawar on Tuesday said the university is thinking of starting a braille library for visually impaired students. 

He said that while the members of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) peer team who came calling in September last year had found the university to be doing well in research, they had suggested that it set up a well-equipped braille library for visually impaired students on the campus and those from affiliated colleges. 

Pawar was speaking at the function held to inaugurate the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workshop at the university library. 

"We have taken the recommendation quite seriously and are looking at ways to implement it. The library will be available for visually impaired students from SUK's 281 affiliated colleges across Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur district," Pawar said. 

He added, "Study resources are changing over time. We need to accept and adapt to the changes. The visually impaired students, too, need to actively participate in the new initiatives." 

Librarian Namita Khot said the university has set up a study centre this year for visually impaired students. The students are not charged any fee for using the facility. 

The ICT workshop, in the meantime, was held to teach visually impaired students the basics of technology. A faculty member in the English language department, Manohar Waswani, also told the students about the career options they had. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Debating the relevance of vocational education

Debating the relevance of vocational education

Sanjay Shivnani Jan 8, 2015, DHNS
In a new light Vocational education is often looked upon as the poor cousin of academic education. But reality says otherwise. It is in fact, essential for the overall development of a student, says Sanjay Shivnani.
In a new light Vocational education is often looked upon as the poor cousin of academic education. But reality says otherwise. It is in fact, essential for the overall development of a student, says Sanjay Shivnani.
The highly acclaimed, modern management thinker and celebrated author Stephen Covey professes that one must ‘begin with the end in mind’.

I think this has no better applicability than in the purpose of education. What is the purpose of education after all? Is it just to gain knowledge for the sake of it or is it to gain a set of skills and competencies that can help one
advance in life, pursue a career of choice and earn a decent livelihood?

The debate over vocational versus academic education has been raging across the world and mind you, this is not restricted to under-developed economies.

A recent higher education event in the USA concluded with wide- scale agreement amongst academia, business and government that students graduating from the US education system are not fit for the world of work.

So, the debate is no more a debate; it is now a challenge. How do we vocationalise mainstream education? Learned professors and teachers call it as the ‘hands-on’ education versus ‘minds-on’ education.

The first issue to address probably, is the positioning of vocational education; whether it is in the developed countries like UK, USA or Sweden or in developing nations like India, vocational education is usually considered as the poor cousin of academic education. It is for those who did not make it; these are children of a lesser God.

Degraded field
There are others who feel that vocational education is like a ‘bronze’ medal while academic education is the ‘gold’ which students should be vying for. One way to overcome this is to establish the cause and effect linkages of vocational education with employment.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, with enormous convergence happening in the world of education, there is greater need to shed this
baggage of the past and look at vocational education in a new light. Hands-on learning is becoming more accepted currently.

The new generation of tech-savvy young adults are ready to learn new skills and step into new professions that demand practical skills and rely more on hands-on experience.

It seems like there is an ‘Arab Spring’ happening in education, with the young job-seekers demanding better vocational education which can directly lead them to jobs.

According to OECD Reports and Reviews on Vocational Education and Training, different countries have explored ways and means of adding
value to vocational education.

Sweden, for example, has forged partnership between training providers and
employers. This provides security and stability to the young trainees who get the benefit of one year or two year-long internship or partnership with
employers.

Sweden, of course, is a highly developed economy with a smaller population but countries like Tunisia, in North Africa, have been fairly successful in developing this linkage with industry majors.

Quite clearly, it shows that where there is stakeholder will, solutions are bound to emerge. In China, for example, there is greater emphasis on ‘institutional leadership’, with teachers (or the vocational educators) themselves getting interned with industry leaders.

What do the numbers say?
In India, too, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has been
actively engaged in promoting vocational education and skill development at different levels.

In its Annual Report of 2012-13, it reveals that 23.02 lakh
students have enrolled for post-school diploma or PG diploma courses, while 30.14 lakh students enrolled in AICTE-approved technical programmes.

These figures can be contrasted with the 203.27 lakh students who enrolled in different universities and colleges for the academic education.

Setting up of new polytechnics and strengthening existing polytechnics has been on the governmental agenda for long. In over 287 districts of the country, State and Union Territory governments have set up polytechnics to provide stepping stones for the young adults find gainful employment.

These are worthy developments
happening in our country, but we still have a long way to go. Vocational
education needs healthy public-private partnership which can add quality and value at every stage of the syllabi roll-out.

Moreover, young students also need a healthy dose of confidence and
self-esteem as they step out into a more demanding labour market.

State and national board curriculum must be modified to formally account for
vocational subjects that inculcate ‘doing’ in addition to ‘knowing’.

There are several national schemes for apprenticeship and training already in existence which can be revisited and overhauled in the light of best-practices being adopted in developed and developing countries.

These can prove to be game changers as India strives to become a more industrialised economy, with a greater thrust on vocational education and training.