In the present times, can we say that the teaching methodologies that worked in the past will still apply or do we have to change the focus of our practice?In order to answer that, we need to delve in the history of teaching practices. We shall take the example of GURUKUL SYSTEM IN VEDIC PERIOD in India
In Gurukuls, The initial education will be generally given in homes, up to the age of 8 years and later in Ashrams or Gurukuls, followed by education in Centres of higher learning such as Takshila.
Gurukuls were free and were not dependent on parents paying fee but students could offer fields, livestock and/or elements of daily needs to Gurus or even nothing, as per their economic condition. Students would seek alms and offer to the Gurus for running the ashram. In general, the whole society would promote education.
Gurukuls were residential, separate for girls and boys, students of different social classes studied together. Different shastras were taught and students were allowed to specialize in a field of their interest.
The objectives of education were:
1. Development of Self-control
2. Development of character
3. Generation of sociability or social awareness
4. Integral development of personality
5. Propagation of purity
6. Preservation of knowledge and culture
We find that the scholars have found the Gurukul System the best and it did give many scholars of unparalleled learning and repute to India.
TEACHER CENTRIC to STUDENT CENTRIC
In the present times, the pedagogical innovations are needed to shift the focus from what and how to teach to “How to learn”.
We have to empower our students to feel the need for learning and then be guided to learn the art of learning. Create a need and then teach, how to fulfill that need, rather than equating education as filling of an empty vessel.
Students must be encouraged and empowered to seek and create knowledge.
The learning that a teacher has amassed, cannot be transferred in the time spent in schools and colleges, similarly not the entire body of knowledge could find its place in the prescribed text books , hence, we have to make our learners , proficient in how to read and read between the lines.
In the age of technological era, how to search for the information, how to conduct empirical and research studies from upper primary/middle classes onwards.
The teaching focus has to shift to integrated rather than subject-centric, collaborative as well as individualized, hands- on learning rather than theoretical, flip learning from home to school, from learner to class, rather than school/teacher to learner/home.
Education has to be related to real life rather than abstract teaching being applied later in life. The Abstract will lose its relevance for the children, if not related to life.
In the present context, till Secondary stage, there is fixed curriculum in most schools, and only a few schools allow children to choose other subjects.
Even in the subjects made mandatory, most students may not find relevance of the complex concepts/terms they are made to learn; in terms of application in life; now or later. Also, unfortunately most of the teachers are unable to link the relevance themselves, and insist on learning for the sake of examination results or the job market; as the ultimate reward/goal of learning; leaving the learner losing interest. Some students drop out of formal schooling for this very reason as without interest, results also do not materialize.
We have to create a need for the learning and also arouse interest in learning. It can only happen, if there is sustained joy in learning not only for its own sake but the learner experiences a deep love and need for learning. We need excited and joyful teachers, who infect their students with a lot of their own enthusiasm and also share the joy of newer learning themselves constantly. Such a teacher will relate concepts to life, making schooling joyful, igniting, sustaining interest, arousing creativity and empowering the learner, for assuming the ownership of his learning.
It has to move away from exam based system to either fulfilling a career aspirational need or of pure academic interest for seeking and creating knowledge
Many schools have put considerable efforts in developing newer models of learning. Some schools have developed the concept of Learning Minutes, or the time allotted to self- learning time given to each student per subject, during school hours.
Some schools use the phrase ‘Leading me to lead my learning’ for setting and meeting personal learning goals.
Our school has developed the idea of ‘external/play tool of learning strategies’ in which learning continues from playgrounds and external visits to classes.
What is needed is a stronger emphasis on integrated and/or inquiry based learning.
We also need to empower the teachers to allow them to innovate and try newer ideas. Teacher Education and training has received the maximum focus in this training and has generated small pockets of Action Research in each so called progressive school and even traditional school. Teaching as Inquiry should be adopted, if not already done. We may implement it by having a regular time slot for teachers to think together and share their professional inquiries, every week. It may be in curricular or cross -curricular groups.
Sri VIS has the rare distinction of having nine of its teachers acknowledged and awarded for innovative teaching practices in Science and Mathematics by the Directorate of Education in 2017-18, the only private school from the district South West. 4 teachers and the Head teacher were selected by NDTV, India Today and Educomp for innovation at National level in 2016-17 and again in 2017-18. We need to continue to rediscover potential and create centres of excellence and integrate the best practices in the whole school pedagogy, then only we shall do justice to all.
It is the need of the hour to address the malaise the society faces- of nepotism and administrative slumber.
Education must receive its due and should be recognized as the only force for developing and nurturing the human potential. It is high time country sees its population as a resource and provides opportunities to the young generation and adults to contribute responsibly; rising over narrow self-interests and differences.