Education initiatives are part of governments all across the globe, guided by a much-deliberated system of principles influencing decisions that are aimed at achieving pre-determined outcomes, which, in turn, are perceived to be beneficial to a particular country’s goals. Much thought goes on behind creating initiatives: they are statements of intent and, equally, the task of implementation is a very complex one. Not just that, innovative education initiatives have the huge additional responsibility of creating and shaping future generations, who, in turn, are any country’s future. The initiatives have to keep in mind the cultural and social norms of the country, while creating the atmosphere for salutary change. Another aspect that has to be taken into account while designing innovative government initiatives in education is the changes in society and its demands, both locally and globally, and rethink their strategies in order to benefit a new and contemporary scenario which will equip children to face and handle challenges of current times.
The classroom experience is unique - it is different for each one of us which is why when people reminisce about their school, opinions can differ about the same subject or teacher. The teacher, for her part, also has unique relationships with the class she goes to. It is a dynamic, organic process. The same concern, involvement and thoughtfulness that was evident in the experiences recounted in the first part are present in the narratives of this Issue too.
This issue we have a number of articles which explore the boundaries of the classroom and its importance as an investment for the future. Practising teachers have written about the ‘experiments’ they have had success with, others which were not quite so successful because they were ahead of their times. Other articles recount and convey the sense of responsibility a teacher feels when she realises that she has to play a gamut of roles, the sense of achievement and satisfaction when an unexpected learning lakes place. Documented, too, is the tremendous hard work and thinking that most teachers put into their work, thereby enhancing the sense of optimism in these exciting new times.
The teacher is central to the teaching - learning process, whatever a school’s policies, whether private or public, whatever board it has chosen to adopt. The teacher is an essential component of the success of the process. This being the case it is essential to consider what ‘creates’ a good, effective teacher and what sustains her and , through her, the framework of the school. This Issue is aimed at not only teachers and teacher-educators, but also policy makers and observers, in short, anyone with an interest in education. The focus articles deal with the policy and practice of teacher development and suggests alternatives while two more examine gender sensitisation and pre-service teacher preparation discussing in considerable detail the curriculum and its realities. This is followed by articles from practitioners across the field, from both private and public institutions. Teachers have recounted their experiences on the ground. There are critiques of the present system holding up practices against the light of theory, while some teachers have described their positive encounters, testifying to the dedication of colleagues working with enthusiasm and vigour in remote areas, without the help of sophisticated teaching aids.
The theme of public education is one that affects every society across the globe. All over, there has been fundamental dissatisfaction with the systems, though the idea itself is intimately linked with a democratic society: one in which the individual is taught her place in the larger society. In India there has been disaffection with both public and private schooling, especially in urban centres, where private schooling flourishes at exorbitant cost, many times with inadequate space, facilities and less than adequate teaching. Every single person in the country is crucially involved in what form education takes, since it matters to us what the future of our society is going to be. It reveals too the tremendous hope that we all have that there are solutions, elusive perhaps, but they exist and it is for us, and others who follow, to find these solutions. This hope is all the more attenuated when we hear stories, as we do, of our public schools in the remotest of places, where teachers are doing a wonderful jobs, coming to braving the weather, working under very challenging circumstances, their enthusiasm unabated.
The starting point of this issue is Mahatma Gandhi’s Nai Talim which he envisaged over many years and made available in 1937. Children learn by making and doing and it is by relating these two to the larger context that the understanding of the whole picture is obtained. It is this larger picture that this issue has tried its best to present. This issue has also attempted to take a long, hard look at the relevance that Nai Talim has in the India of today, nearly eight decades later. The explorations are on the idea of Nai Talim and the overall visions of a ‘good society’, rethinking Nai Talim in the light of the NCF of 2005, as well as in the present context. This has been done against the background of experiments with present day ideas of education and work. Keeping all this in mind, the way forward is for us, as an emerging society, to draw lessons that help us to create knowledge with an emphasis on values that sustain and are in turn sustainable.
Learning Curve decided to devote this issue to Inclusive Education as a theme. In this issue, readers will find articles on literature for children particularly emphasizing inclusion, on gender stereotyping and an article on RTE and inclusion in schooling, among others. The issue also has an article on teaching language to include, caste as a barrier to education and upward social mobility and, finally, teacher preparedness in curriculum development.
In this issue of the Learning Curve, practising scientists, professors, school teachers and innovators ruminate on the methods and merits of science education. A range of topics from 'why teach science' to 'how to make science fun for children' to 'how to encourage children to take up higher education in science' and 'how critical it is that we have a strong stream of scientists emerging from our education system' are addressed in this issue.
This issue of Learning Curve is devoted to the theme of language learning. In it, students, teachers, field practitioners and academicians talk about what language means to them, its multiple benefits and the issues and challenges associated with its learning.

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