Sustainable Collaboration among Schools

This article talks of the diversity among schools in India and how schools should collaborate in order to make a difference which is sustainable.

 

Indian Schools are no exemption to the unique diversity ranging from the Government Primary Schools in rural interiors to the International Boarding Schools located in the hill stations. Some of the key areas in which these schools of India differ include:

 

- Geographical Location
- Infrastructure and Facilities
- Governing Bodies
- Curriculum adapted
- Teaching – Learning Tools
- Teaching Staff
- Socio-economic background of the students

 

Irrespective of the differences which exist in each of these innumerable schools across the country, still what remains common is educating the child. How it is done?  Different schools have different methods or approaches or designs within their limitations to accomplish this common goal. A school operating in a rural area might prefer to design simple activities as part of their curriculum which promotes learning by doing from the available natural resources whereas an International School might emphasize on the use of digital technology along with activities which give first hand experience to the child. We may also come across a third category of schools wherein teaching-learning is carried out still in the conventional method of chalk and talk. Which of these methods do we feel have more scope to nurture creativity among students? It’s a very difficult question to answer because hardly we have teachers or educators who have had the direct experience with each of these methods. Diversity among schools and their approaches has widened the gap among the members of the teaching fraternity wherein a teacher working in a rural area might not have ever used technology and on the contrary we also come across teachers working in International/Global Schools who had to teach the concept of Bio Gas Plant in an air-conditioned digital classroom to students who might keep themselves miles away from the touch or smell of cow dung.

The table below provides a comparison of how concepts from different disciplines might be taught depending upon the location of the school such as rural or urban.

 

S.No.

Subject & Concept

Teaching – Learning Methodology

Schools – Rural Areas

International/Global Schools – Metro Cities

1.

Mathematics – Basic Fundamental Operations

Simple activities using pebbles, marbles, nuts etc.

Abacus, Programmed Instruction using digital media, Lab Activities etc.

2.

Physics – Doppler Effect

Visit to the nearby village Railway Station – to have the first hand experience

Demonstration through an activity in the laboratory or using digital media.

3.

Chemistry – Sugar from Sugarcane

Firsthand experience of how jaggery is prepared by the local farmers from the sugar cane extract.  

Visit to the Sugar factory or understanding the process through electronic media.

4.

Biology – Agriculture

Visit to the fields to gain direct experience of tilling the soil, sowing the seeds, adding manure, winnowing, thrashing the crop etc.

Difficulty in reaching out to farmers in cities. At most visit to the nearby organic farm or through digital media.

5.

Geography – Weather

Traditional ways of predicting the weather and the necessary precautions to be taken to ensure safety in adverse conditions.

Visit to the Meteorological Station, following weather forecast through various media – print and electronic.

6.

History – Mughal Period

Least scope for educational visits. Mostly taken up through role plays, storytelling or chalk and talk.

Immense scope for visits to Forts and Palaces built by Mughal Emperors as well as understanding their history through you tube videos or History Channel telecasts.

7.

Civics – Local Self Government

Direct experience – Visit to the Gram Panchayat Office

Visit to the Municipal Corporation or a guest lecture by the Municipal Commissioner or Mayor of the city

8.

Economics – Market Price

Interview with the farmers to understand how the government decides the rate for their crop

A role play. Eg: Journey of a vegetable or a cereal from the field to the super market in relation to the rise in its value.  

9.

Language Skills

Least scope for skill enhancement in English other than the chalk and talk.

Language Lab for subjects such as English and other foreign languages.

10.

Sports

Mostly free play and Indigenous games

Structured curriculum for various sports of national and international importance

11.

Fine Arts

(Painting, Music & Dance)

Training in the local art and craft forms – bamboo weaving, wood craft etc. Music and Dance – mostly of regional importance.

Structured curriculum – training in classical and western forms. Opportunities to be a part of the performances by celebrities from various fields.

 

The above table clearly points out the fact to each one of us that neither rural nor urban schools have the complete scope for teaching-learning of a concept in the best possible way. In certain disciplines, rural schools have a better edge over their counterparts and vice versa. Which of these two could nurture creativity among students to the optimum? Again it’s a difficult question that could be answered.

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It’s high time for each one of us to accept the fact that sometimes children from tribal areas might be more creative than their counterparts in the metros. All efforts by the 21st century International or Global Schools to provide the best infrastructure and facilities can only help provide learning experiences mostly which are virtual. No learning is better than learning that happens in the real and natural settings which is still possible in schools operating in the rural areas. But the irony is even the rural schools have their own administrative challenges which do not allow the teachers to tap the enormous creative potential hidden in the young minds. The net result is the under utilization of both the natural as well as the human resources failing to improve the educational standards.

It’s high time school leaders take a step forward in understanding the implications of the growing diversity and should make efforts to bridge the gap through a meaningful collaboration with their counterparts thus enabling a paradigm shift in the teaching-learning process. If practiced in true spirit, we can envisage a generation of learners who carry within themselves a spirit of brotherhood, if not, we do not have any right to claim that we focus on the overall growth and development of the child because we are missing out on the most important component i.e. being sensible towards fellow beings. Let us pledge to be honest and try to bring a qualitative difference in the thought process (psyche) of all the stakeholders who are a part of this noble endeavour.

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Image Source: Wikipedia, TESS India
 

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