Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We have to leave the teacher in the classroom, isn't it?

Parimal Patel, a CRC coordinator from Gujarat, faced the following difficulty. To which there are no easy answers, but here's an attempt. Feel free to add your views!

Parimal Patel
Two days ago, I had a discussion in my cluster to make school history and to make school bio-data (which was made by me for my school by spending extra time in the school). Teachers liked  my idea but said that that in which time they would make it? They have had a lot of work since June. I'm asking this question because this is only one example – but there are so many policy-makers and the worker is only one. If we want quality we have to leave teacher in the classroom, isn't it? Please think about it – this is a more difficult question in primary education than any other.

Subir's response

Parimal (and many other friends struggling with the same problem) - you are right that the worker is one and policy makers are many, and all of them are trying to get the worker to do something or the other! So what can be done? Here are a few points for you all to consider:

  • The curriculum development process is one very important way to create a framework and common understanding so that the different decision-makers and policy-makers can think in a coordinated way. In the next few months this will be shared across the state and a process to coordinate accordingly will start. In the beginning, though, you can expect a lot of struggle, since everyone will not agree on what the SRG has developed! Be prepared for different ideas all trying to occupy the same place. 
  • When we work in the field, we do have to keep in mind specific actions. At the same time, don't worry if the teacher does not do what you are asking for - AS LONG AS HE/SHE IS WORKING TOWARDS THE SAME OBJECTIVE. The problem arises when the objectives themselves are different (as will happen this year in the Gunotsav). 
  • The need to leave the teacher to work in the classroom is really important. We have opposite views about what is happening: some claim the teacher has got too many non-teaching tasks, and some say that the teacher is simply not spending the time in the class. Which view is the correct one? I think both are. People like me will keep on working with policy makers to ensure that non-teaching tasks are reduced, and other colleagues at field level will have to keep on working to ensure that teachers do spend the time available in the classroom. 
  • I like the idea of the school bio-data. Maybe it does not have to be done in one go. How about putting up a chart or board, and letting teachers, children, even community members add things to it when they have the time. Then, perhaps after a month, in the morning assembly this can be shared (it is not necessary to keep doing the same things in morning assembly every day!). Different classes could be given the tasks in different subjects, related to the school bio-data (in language - do the writing work; in maths - make maps, tables with data; in social studies - trace the history; in drawing - make pictures of different aspects of the school, etc.). So making it a project, spreading it over time, and connecting it with ongoing processes might help. This has to do with how we imagine different things being done. 
  • Finally, pl also read the post on 'How Teachers Change', and also 'How Teachers Learn' in my blog.

Your response?