Our teaching styles and child centered learning

Primarily a child who comes to the school must always be the prime focus in any education system. Lot has been said about ‘child centered’ education but what does it mean? In fact it has been left to the teachers’ discretion to define it in their own way. The child invariably gets mixed signals as there are pretty many teachers & their idiosyncracies to negotiate per year, each year.

(courtesy MaxPixel)

Recently, a student of class X called me over phone to ask me as to who is preparing the social science question paper. As we were three teachers handling the subject, the question interested me. I asked him, how it matters to know who prepares question paper and the student was quick in his response. He said, “I wanted to know if you are preparing question paper” and I asked why? He replied, “It is because, I am sure if you set it up there would be many value based and personality related questions”. So he thought that would help him. For my own part, I had to disclose the “secret” to all students in order to be fair to everyone!

Different messages are conveyed by each teacher, (sometimes teachers are oblivious to it) in a typical school environment. Some are seen very friendly and lenient with students whereas others seem to be very strict. Some teachers are soft natured towards girls and some towards boys. Some give surprise tests and some don’t! Whenever there needs to be extra classes taken, the PET and music classes get the axe. Some teachers allow latecomers into the classroom with no reason and some demand all possible explanation and still end up insulting children. Some stick to time and some don’t. Some say marks and grades are very important and others stand for skill and socialization. When students come late they are either made to run or stand out and even their parents be called. But at times, teachers seem to have taken the system for granted. It is ok for some teachers to not bring books; some command not to open text and for some the text book is must. Some children are offered chocolates whereas some are not. Each teacher has his/her own favorite students. More often than not, the students with special needs are left out. Some teachers handle any situation in classroom by themselves and for some sending them to the principal seem to be first and last resort and there are many situations where teachers set the norms of their own and put children in dilemma.

(courtesy Wikimedia Foundation)

For children’s own part, the choas maong the ‘values’ each teacher adheres to, leads children to change according to teachers’ demands. Some children find it very hard to accommodate, some turn to be manipulators. What such school culture does is that it creates a sense of insecurity, fear and the hypocrisy being encouraged amongst children in a school, even without teachers being conscious of it.

Children certainly need a school culture which is morally and ethically fair, integrated and uniform in approach (with due respect to teachers’ individuality). Children need a firm teacher not the one who is strict or lenient. It was a real surprise for me that, in the recently conducted survey in my school, students seem to be comfortable with a teacher who is strict with every student than the one who is lenient with some and strict with others. Thereby the children have conveyed a firm message that fairness is always appreciated. A firm, reflective teacher as a role model who is accountable for their actions and responses in delivering, is an ideal & achievable expectation, I guess. When they blend empathy and compassion, students would not have asked for a better teacher!


parveenwrites's picture

:-) Children certainly need a school culture which is morally and ethically fair, integrated and uniform in approach

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