Friday, 31 August 2012

Importance of Teacher’s Day

My guest Blogger for Teacher’s Day is Ms Diana Tyagi, mother, educationist and super franchise of Jumbo Kids. Read her thoughts on the importance of ‘Teacher’s Day’.
It is often said "  Leave your children well instructed, rather than riches and wealth, for the hopes of the well instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant....."

Knowledge is a powerful acquisition which when shared does not decrease. It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy and kindle the light of wisdom through creative expression. Today so many of our teachers unfortunately lack the foresight to perceive the effect of their interaction on these young impressionable minds.

Lots has been written about the role of a teacher in a student's life, but how many teachers are actually committed to the profession? By virtue of having been in this profession for the last 7 years, and raising my 4 children from pre school level and watching them graduate to Middle school and High school level I have had the good fortune of interacting with a variety of teachers and seen the aftermath of that interaction on their very sub conscience. 

 Taking a moment back in time to rewind to the era of my growing up years, and do some self introspection on the lingering mark those educators left on me, makes me realise that the bottom line was that those educators put the needs of the student much before all else... Growing up in an environment that fostered the self development of the individual and aided in inculcation of morals and values to be upheld over all else, resulted in them being looked upon as role models in every sense of the term.

A good teacher possesses the ability to deal with tactics, patterns, techniques and principles of behaviour that ensure to get the best out of the student and can be adapted whatever be the personality of the child..

I have through my limited years of experience enlisted 10 GOLDEN RULES OF AN EDUCATOR that are not intended to be  a revelation but are certainly a reminder. Many of them are based on common sense but it is easy to lose sight of them when dealing with the different needs of varying ages....When one thinks of the huge responsibility invested in the hands to of a teacher can stop you in your tracks and take your breath away as the things we say and do have a huge influence in their lives...

Children often view the world differently from adults . Sometimes they try very hard to view it the same way as us but we as adults don't seem to think about their perspective at all, so it is important to let them to know that we are viewing things from their perspective.

Not only do students have to make their own decisions but they have to think for themselves...
The single most basic technique for teaching children to think is to constantly ask them questions and challenge their ideas. Not aggressively but to get them debating,arguing,justifying and questioning.Once they can start doing so instinctively without us having to kick them off with a question you know you have mastered this rule.

As teachers, praise should be used as one of the biggest motivators for their students.
The expression "You can't have too much of a good thing "...certainly does not apply to praise. Praise should be given in proportion to the child's achievements. If you over praise them you devalue the currency. If you tell them they are superbly brilliant when they do something pretty average then what will you say when they do something really outstanding? Also if every little thing they achieve is rewarded with copious praise they will be terrified of failing you...

Communicate with them by focusing on the problem and not the person. A common principle advocated at child behaviour seminars is "Hes not a naughty boy,he is a good boy who has done a naughty thing"

Though it sounds like a politically correct, psychologically gone wrong statement,it is an absolutely correct statement.

Once you tell a child he is naughty or selfish or rude ,careless,or anything else.... you label him. They start believing the label (and why shouldn't they, after all they are trained to believe everything their teacher says as the gospel truth). Soon they will start living up to the adjectives used by you to describe them. If you give them a label they will live up to it. They will automatically feel there is no need to put in any effort as the teacher thinks I'm useless anyways....Learn to condemn their behaviour not them.

Positive labels are a different thing long as they are accurate.They encourage a child to behave like their label----thoughtful,careful,hardworking.Positive labels can be used to reinforce good behaviour when they have "I was really surprised to see you behave so rudely, I always think of you as a particularly polite person. It reassures them you haven't given up on your positive view of them and so  its not too late to live up to the "polite " label.

Children have strong emotions and they need to be able to show them. When they are angry they have to be allowed to say so. Our job is to teach them to say so in an acceptable manner and not to conceal their feelings no matter what...They need to hear us say"I can see exactly why you are angry but it still is not ok to push your friend in that manner"

A child that is not allowed to express his feelings will not be able to get rid of them-even as a grown up. Bottling up emotions from childhood can lead to emotional and even physical problems...Whats more when they grow up into adults they will never be able to express how they feel ,which can be hugely damaging in all sorts of relationships,particularly close partnerships.

Children can have the same biological parents,grow up in the same family, go to the same school but be completely different people.

A good teacher's aim is to bring out their individuality not mould them into something they don't want to be and thereby enabling them to grow into wonderful, independent, self assured free thinking people that they are meant to be..

Different students are motivated by different things. Sometimes emotional incentives work well, eg approval of a teacher, at other times specific incentives eg being given more responsibility in the class.

It takes a long time to work out what might be the right incentive but by experimenting on a trial and error basis you can discover it soon enough.

If we want our students to grow up feeling that they can contribute to the world and hold their head high with self esteem  this rule needs to be implemented at an early age.
A teacher plays an important role in giving them the confidence to find and discover the things that they are good at. Take time out to find qualities to admire in them.
Some children are good at lots of things,whereas others at only one or two that really matter to them.Our job is to keep looking until we find the thing they can excel at and make sure that they realise it.

It also does not have to be academic or school oriented  like music or art or could simply be a child with exemplary memory/retention power or maybe the best organiser of the class,who meticulously stacks all the books for the teacher in a neat pile.Just make sure they are good at it and most importantly they know that YOU know they are good at it.

What do we as educators praise our students for ?. Good work in the exams, neatness in books,finishing all the homework on time,winning in sports,getting the highest grade in class....
The real answer should be NONE of the above....Of course it is important to congratulate the student for these achievements but the things they  deserve most praise for, are to do with their attitude and their behaviour  and less for their achievements.The things we praise children for or reward them for in life tell a lot about what we believe is important in life. It helps create their values. So if we end up always praising the  best academic prowess, highest marks in the class, winning,success.... then those are things we tell them matter and the pressure is on them to keep achieving. However if we praise effort, perseverance, progress, diplomacy, integrity, honesty that is what they will grow up believing.

Who wants a perfect student? Every child I have met who was impeccably behaved and never put a foot wrong, strove to please their parents and teachers, worked hard at school and always handed in their homework on time is probably the most boring student...
Children are not supposed to be mini grown-ups. They are meant to have all those imperfections that growing up is intended to eradicate.If you had them perfect by the age of 10 you might as well send them off to be merchant bankers.
Childhood is for being a child and privately I always think children turn out best if not quite all those early imperfections disappear. Who wants an adult child who never has a mischievous twinkle in his eye...

Tell them when they fail, that you have given them the permission to feel bad, and by telling them that you can see how shattered they must be and that you are not surprised they feel the way they do...Be sympathetic and understanding...add on a few hugs and kisses.
Once you have allowed them to be miserable for a while they will be ready to start climbing up out of their swamp of despair and when they do,remind them you will be there to give them a hand...

Thursday, 9 August 2012

If D.A.P is so important then why is it sparingly noticeable in Indian preschools?

N.C.E.R.T and N.C.T.E do talk about D.A.P and promote it on their websites and seminars but yet the emphasis is strongly on rigorous academics and rote learning and drill activity in preschools as preschools in most states of India are viewed as a preparatory and introductory stage for primary school. So the emphasis is on ensuring that the child is able to write sentences, do addition and subtraction (some schools even teach 5 year olds multiplication and division) answer general knowledge questions and come out with flying colours in formal interview sessions!

I think the problem is when we refer to these years as preschool or pre primary- so the lopsided emphasis is that it is a school that is before the primary school, so naturally it is meant to prepare a child for primary school! Whereas actually the kindergarten years are to prepare a child for life, living and learning. Sadly we only prepare them for learning and that too the incorrect kind!

How can this scenario change? what I am about to suggest may cause a storm and open a hornet’s nest but if a debate on this can be sparked and lead to change in the kindergarten years, then I don’t mind opening the proverbial Pandora’s box-

  1. Tie up pre primary with the primary syllabus, which means instead of the primary especially the standard one dictating to the kindergarten about what each child should be able to do before stepping into standard one, it should be the other way around, let the kindergarten give the primary school, where to start from.
  2. Kindergarten and even primary curriculum usually do not feature in the curriculum definitions of educational boards, but I think if educational boards joined in by specifying what should and should not be taught to primary and kindergarten years then schools would be ‘able to’ implement D.A.P. easily and effectively.
  3. D.A.P can serve as that proverbial bridge that will take the child smoothly from ‘pre primary’ to primary and beyond.
  4. We also need to give a better status to kindergarten, as they are functioning with underpaid adults who lack professional and specialized educational qualifications.
  5. Teachers need to be better qualified so that they will be able to understand their role instead of functioning as ‘powerless’ people just implementing and inflicting incorrect practices on little children.
  6. (The more time young children spend in poor quality settings the lower they score on measures of cognitive and social skills(n.a.e.y.c early child care research network 2000,2003)
  7. Involve doctors and other professionals in driving home the message.
  8. Talk to schools about maturation, and experience
  9. Prepare parents and children for the primary school transition.
  10. More purposeful advocacy for kindergarten must talk about its strengths and potential research based contributions to children.
  11. Kindergarten movement needs a clarity of purpose otherwise there is huge risk of this movement being swept aside or blown off its course by the storms of change raging in educational establishments.
  12. Let the change in educational norms, methods and goals begin with kindergarten  - Kindergarten Is Too Important Not To Protect And Nurture So, Lets Protect Kindergarten And Childhood With D.A.P.(naeyc)
  13. Why do we still stick to the 4 line books for pre primary when the goal is to make the child write on single lines? Three lines will serve the purpose better. Then why put the children through the process of unlearning and learning?
  14. Why cursive writing for pre schoolers? First teach them print and the move to cursive writing in the primary years. When 99% of reading that he is  exposed to is in print? After all to write he must first read and he reads in print
Some more points to ponder…….

Frankly speaking children require five skills in life that is the core of education, the five skills are –
1.   Physical Skills
2.   Communicative Skills
3.   Social Skills
4.   Emotional Skills
5.   Intellectual Skills
When parents and schools only stress on the learning of the 3 R’s or academics, only the 5th skill is being developed, so what about the other 4 skills will they not be important in life? They are extremely important and maybe this misplaced focus on only one skill is the real reason why this generation is not as adaptive, emotionally strong and able to relate, unlearn and learn in their life work.

It’s high time we educate parents on how schools should educate their kids!