Saturday, July 28, 2007

Need to limit subjects of study to the least possible number

Specialization in the field of learning has undoubtedly born sweet fruits for all of us and none can dispute its importance with the growing needs as well as increase in the complex problems of life. There is always room for more researches in newer fields or unexplored aspects of life on the planet earth.

We find ample literature that emphasizes on individual potentials and suggests orienting the learners in the direction where his inner hidden capacity sees day light in full bloom.

But do all learners need to have a bit of all main branches of disciplines viz; Mathematical studies + Experimental Science + Life and Society + Arts and Crafts + Two or more languages till they pass secondary level or O’ levels? Are they really able to make use of information acquired in history when specializing in electronics? The proponents of multi-discipline curricula might defend the system arguing that different subjects help inculcate different skills and so all are equally important. But looking to what Bloom has proposed through his well known taxonomy dealing with the layers of simpler to complex to higher level thinking skills, all of these skills could be developed through any one discipline too though one might have to work a bit harder. Is not it better to explore the contents of one’s own interest again and again using different thinking process? Might this not lessen the burden of information which most of the time just pass through tender brains for examination purpose? I really do not recollect the stuff I studied in mathematics for seven years except what form the part of daily life. Such calculations even an unschooled boy masters with frequent usage.

Is not it time to teach lesser but in the best manner so that best results could be got and excellence achieved with sustained interest with least failures? Even few words of wisdom like dew drops if absorbed by receiver are enough to ensure bloom. 

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Separate classes for students with specific learning styles

Since time immemorial mankind has been using his power of intellect to do or get things done, to think of the ways to solve his problems, to develop newer things as necessitated and thus has been trying to make human-life better, healthier and prosperous.

Many researches have been done on the learning behaviors of learners and newer and more effective strategies are yet being evolved so that learners can learn in the best possible way. Human capacity as well as human brain and human behavior are so complex that definite answers are not yet available.

In the field of education nothing is as exact as that of physics and therefore guardians often find them in illusion as soon as they see that their wards are not picking up though very tall claims are made for a given academic program, or educational curriculum of certain institution through tempting ads and catching hoarding, widespread handbills etc.

So before hurrying to opt for a particular education center to be the training lab for your kids first ensure the learning behavior of your child and the teaching tactics and educating aids of the proposed institution and decide whether the two are compatible or not.

In most of the cases where learners turn out as successful and effective it is only because by good chance their learning styles are corresponding to the facilities, faculties, aids and methods of their school. Though different learning styles are identified as visual, aural, read-write and kinesthetic styles and trainers and teachers are often asked to decide their students’ learning behaviors and prepare their teaching materials accordingly. But how within a 40 minutes period the needs of all students could be addressed? Do not you think there need to be separate sections in school for each group with specific learning style?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Seeking too much help blunts thinking

The word thought is used in the sense of scattered ideas in the mind, imagination, belief and deliberate mental activity. It is the last sense that is most important for those keen to see their kids develop intelligent and smart personality. The deliberate mental focus is mostly triggered on when an individual is caught in problem and crisis and tries to come out of it with his own effort when no one is there to guide him, to help him out or to solve his problem. Human mind is always at its best when the human being is entangled in webs and nets. It shakes every part of it to find a solution to his problem. The first thing that helps him out is his memory that reminds him of similar situation when certain strategy was worked out for him or some one else who told him how he got out. He instantly applies the same tactic and gets out. If nothing found in the memory he tries to find out the cause of his problem which might be in singular or plural. If in plural he has to decide priority in the order of most likely cause first followed by less then lesser then least. Then he thinks of options open to him and tries the best option first and manages to get out of crisis. Thus he learns how to intelligently solve the problems. So, in order to inculcate the habit of getting out of traps it is necessary to expose kids to some sort of problems and watch him solve by himself. Providing too much help blunts the edge of his thinking power. Therefore we should create interests in kids to play games which require a lot of thinking. Even at home along with indoor games puzzles; mind teasers, riddles etc, need to be encouraged so that mental strengths get stronger.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A three tier training approach

In my quest to learn about how the people in good old days brought up their children and groomed them through different stages with diverse approaches I found a really useful tip that divided the course of child nourishment in three gradual stages.

It said that during first seven years of up-bringing child had to be left free to get involved in things of its choice which might vary from sports to creativity. During this stage all the positive actions of a child had to applauded, its queries answered softly and no disciplinary actions were allowed.

Probably such an approach helped to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a particular child with due encouragement to enhance the strength whilst no pressure to rectify his weaknesses. A child could be moulded more easily through love and affection than with stick and punishment.

During the second seven years span it was suggested to have close watch upon all the activities that child did with more focus on the rectification of weaknesses and re-vitalizing the strengths. During this period parents were advised to remain strict so that the child followed a strict code of conduct oriented to mend the mistakes and provide remedy for the drawbacks whilst rewarded for his achievements and encouraged for everything positive that it undertook.

During the last seven years span it was emphasized to let him accompany his mentor in all the works that he did and expected the child to take on. We can take it to be something like apprenticeship when the learning was put into practice. The trainee gained experience to apply knowledge to the real life situations and tested the same.

I think the three tier approach of nourishment provided them opportunities to identify the strengths and drawbacks first then facilitated to chalk an appropriate and reasonable program to boost the talents and to improve on weaknesses and finally provided them guided experimentation. Thus the predecessors passed on intellectual, behavioral and professional legacies to generation after generation which proved able to sustain the order of the world.

We might try the method with our generation so as to leave behind some legacy which, in the words of John Milton, the posterity might not willingly let die.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Holistic learning

Learning is what makes a person resourceful. Human resources in the recent times have been of far greater importance and profounder effect than any other resources. Countries like Japan and Singapore with hardly any natural resources are today among the most coveted lands. China and India are carving their place in the global map. There is exuberant outflow of talents and skills from these countries to the developed nations. Bill Gate once suggested to the President of USA to increase the issuance of visa to e-talents from this corner of the world or raise the level of IT education in local educational centers lest US will have to pay heavily.

Not only IT rather every field of knowledge is growing rapidly widening the scope of both quality and quantity work of diverse nature.

It is not degrees that hold as much value as the matured, skilled and trained persons. At institutions for professional courses academic results and high percentage are secondary to problem solving skills personal and above all sterling intellectual habits like perseverance, tolerance, smartness, alertness, hard work, commitment that ensure success, progress, recognition and reward.

Thus learning is not confined to knowing what, where, when, which, how and why of the things or phenomena around us. It needs to develop ability to use right information, at right time, in right proportion, at right place, for right purpose, to right effect. To achieve this, a holistic learning and teaching program is required that address the wholesome needs of human personality and aim to make a complete man or a complete woman.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spontaneity in instruction is key to excellent learning

Hot discussions are going on scripted and spontaneous lessons and the consequences they entail. Parents are curious to start their kid’s educational journey as soon as possible. Studies have become more oriented towards achievement than excellence. Achievement, they say, is necessary to get recognition and find quick placement at desired positions. But what about being a looser sooner than later because success inevitably wants excellence.

The process to educate is very complex and has many a pits and bumps on the way. Educational centers can not maintain same level of studies all the time. Students, howsoever carefully enrolled, do have individual peculiarities and tend to excel or lag behind under certain conditions. Human nature, human interests, human tendencies, surrounding circumstances, availability or on availability of facilities and opportunities, off-school life etc always pose problems for curriculum developers to make exemplary modules to cater the individual needs. One program might be a bane or a boon at the same time. Rule of equality says that equals should be treated equally. Those who are in similar circumstances need to be dealt with equality. But it is not as easy to decide whether all students in group are equal on all counts and hence the teacher has to be spontaneous in his teaching tactics.

If parents are eager to take the job of teachers with the help of scripted curriculum for kids they have to be ready to do so at their own risks. Results could be encouraging or disappointing.

I have seen my old neighbors over-estimating their small child’s ability started schooling her through pre-kinder garden stuffs and led the child in bewilderment for the rest of life. In fact they wanted their child to excel others in the locality but reversed back as the child was not ready for the dose given to it.

My 25 years experience in the field of education suggests that scripted curriculum helps provide just the general parameters and launching pads for the teachers and trainers. It is a given teacher’s flexibility that makes him outstanding among peers and helps students develop excellence. 

First Step in the Education Of Your Child

Today in the morning I read a story about a little boy who had passion for music but unfortunately his parents wanted him to be a civil engineer. The boy worked harder and harder but was unable to get through even the preliminary stage. Finally he ended up as a waiter in a hotel. I thought if he had been left free to follow his passion he might have been a brilliant music director. It was his parent who were responsible for his poor and miserable state. Suddenly it flashed in my mind to write about first step in the education of child.

Education, in the contemporary world of science and information technology, is a catch word that passes from tongue to tongue, pages to pages carrying diverse connotations covering various aspects of human life. Sometimes it refers to input of knowledge and information in human mind at others it proposes to process the acquired knowledge and information meaningfully and at yet others it emphasizes on the implementation of whatever is known to fulfil different purposes of life which need to be constructive and fruitful though many a times they tend to be destructive and harmful.

Thus all that education aims to achieve is making life meaningful, fruitful, peaceful and full of pleasures in all its aspects. This could be achieved through developing accuracy, precision, exactitude, smooth functioning in works and well-proportionate growth of human personality.

A human being’s worth is estimated in view of what he can do the best. His developed skills manifested in his works establish how worthy the person is. Nature has placed different potentials, talents, abilities and capacities in each human being. That is why their interests vary from person to person. It is not necessary that a physician’s son has the same interest as that of his father though the home environment does have its role to play to tone up the interest of a child. A human being definitely has tendency to adapt to what he constantly comes in contact with but it should not be overlooked that natural talents get quicker boost with little effort whilst forced interests consume much more time to groom.

Experts have stressed on the principle of fanning or watering. Each of these processes suggests that educator’s job is to provide incentive to bring out and develop the hidden talent and not to create a talent. A person trying to light up a coal needs to provide gradual fanning to make it ablaze. This is possible only when there is a spark in the coal. Same is with watering the plant that gives opportunity to the seeds to grow and bear fruit. Both fanning and watering must be proportionate to the needs of coal or seed respectively. Same rule applies to education viz; providing reasonable opportunities and adequate aids to develop the hidden talent and apparent interest of the learner. So the first step towards a child’s education is to identify his talent and field of interest through consultation with the professionals.