The shloka “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwaraha, Guru shakshaath parabrahma thasmai shree gurave namaha” summarises the position of the learned teacher in the life of a disciple.
We have moved far from the system of a single Guru and his Gurukula to myriad schools with multiple teachers teaching our children today. Over two decades of experience with teachers of today’s schools, here are my thoughts on what we should do rather than a debate about the changes that should happen in the schooling system.
The student-teacher relationship is fast changing with the intervention of new technologies and new pedagogies. The focus of schools on making learning fun and enjoyable is diluting the core purpose of making learning meaningful.
Here are four important things that, I personally feel, need to be addressed by schools of today.
- Mind-Set: STOP IMPRESSING PARENTS and start INSPIRING CHILDREN
When most schools are jumping on the bandwagon of improving and showcasing tangible changes in the schools’ infrastructure, a change in mindset is the path to tread to gain momentum towards progress. Mind-Set is the beginning of innovation and exploration of what we can do in this world.
A school is not designed to impress parents with new gadgets and facilities. It is indeed a place for students to learn the necessary skills for life. A change in mindset will lead to changes in the way we teach, in the way we learn, in the way we think and in the practices we follow in our classrooms and the entire school ecosystem.
Management should focus more on the quality of learning experiences for a student rather than impressing parents with extravagant displays of facilities. A five-star infrastructure is meaningless if the quality of teachers and teaching environment is sub-par.
- Skill-Set: TEACH THEM HOW TO LEARN
Skills learned in school should enable students to face the challenges of life during and after their schooling years
Most schools’ interest in a child’s progress stops after the exams and results. This approach is a good financial model but a bad social model. Schools need to focus on the overall development of a child to make them as future-ready as possible.
The skill-set needed to thrive in the world are constantly changing, especially in today’s world the rate of change is rapid. The prudent approach for schools and teachers to cater to this rapid change is to identify the necessary skills and develop their pedagogy around these skills.
In addition to the changing skill-set, the student body changes constantly as well. A teacher’s challenge is to keep her own skill-set updated and upgraded, to make a meaningful impact on her students’ learning.
School managements often are skeptical on investing in teacher development programmes, asking themselves this question “What if we train them and they decide to leave?”
Well, “What if you don’t train them and they decide to stay?”
Teacher enhancement should feature on a management’s priority list, in order to ensure an inspired student body.
- Knowledge-Set: EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT
Knowledge of the changing world, knowledge relevant to the chosen academic stream, knowledge of how to go about their tasks, knowledge of what they don’t know, knowledge of history – both cultural and scientific, knowledge of various cultures and their attempt to change the world – all these and more comprise the knowledge-set of an individual.
Management should emphasise on improving knowledge-set of teachers every year. Drive teachers to teach one different topic every year to their students or one different skill every year along with their subject of expertise.
- Tool-Set: A MONKEY CAN BE TAUGHT HOW TO WRITE
Tools – old and new strengthen a student’s will, their ability to take a risk and guide them towards higher goals. Simple tools like time management, creative tools like mind-mapping, necessary tools like stress management, anger management, peer pressure management, revived motivation, sustained interest levels – should all be part of the student’s learning curriculum.
They should encounter different situations where these skills can be put to use and sharpened. Needless to say, teachers need to be aware of and adept with the chosen tool-set.
When a school ecosystem can focus on and sharpen all these four MSKT-sets, without doubt, a forward-thinking learning environment will automatically emerge and all stakeholders – school management, teachers, students, and parents will be infinitely benefitted.