An ideal summer vacation
The idyllic summer vacation is almost here, much awaited by students and teachers alike. ‘School is work and vacation is play’. For many children, especially those from poor backgrounds, summer vacation is a time of boredom and inactivity. It is hard to play when you have no toys or playgrounds.
Somehow, we grown-ups have a skewed memory of the summer vacations of our childhood. I realized this when recently I once again read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer after many years. I discovered that the summer vacation was not all fun and games for Tom Sawyer – he spent the better part of his vacation running errands for Aunt Polly or remained in bed with some illness.
Some principals, teachers, parents and students believe that the long summer vacation fragments education leading to the theory of regress in Mathematics and reading. Research supports the theory of ‘summer learning loss’ or ‘summer regress’ and some schools have begun to tackle the problem of ‘summer slide’. This deficit occurs as many students do not receive any formal education during this period and this, in particular, impacts students from poor socio-economic backgrounds and at-risk students. Students from middle-income backgrounds spend the better part of the vacation playing video games and watching television. Thus, they fall weeks, if not months, behind their peers in academics in the new school term.
In view of the above, I would like the teachers to consider three points –
First of all, just as you have made plans for the vacation, the students have also done that. This is the only free time they have after a hectic and strenuous year. Let us not burden them with unnecessary home-work. As Sarita Mathur writes in The Beast- Holiday Homework – ‘the holiday home-work should be relevant and interesting and should encourage lateral and cross curricular thinking’. The holiday home-work should jog the memory and not be a burden on the children. Development of the mind is a very important quotient of education. Just as the mind develops in the classroom, so also it develops outdoors through imagination and creativity. Outdoor activity is the key to the development of the imagination which leads to creativity. When children play outside and their activities are not structured, they invent new and maybe silly games. This helps their imagination to evolve and they learn to think creatively.
Secondly, while you are having fun, do a little home-work yourself. Re-read the books you teach in class. When you read for leisure, you see things in a different perspective. You might see things which you did not notice earlier, and thus, your education continues. As Sharanya Sudhakar wonders in A Reflective Ride – ‘Given all the complexities, ambiguities, and dilemmas that characterize today’s classrooms, what should our homework be?’
Finally, while reading your course books, try and find ways and techniques to help the weakest children in your class. Sunita John in Spread your Wings writes all of us have been ‘blessed with some talents’. Let us use the summer vacation to hone these talents and enhance our skills to make our lessons more interesting and student friendly. If you have any problems regarding your work in class, you are more than welcome to approach us. We shall do our utmost to provide you solutions.
Besides the write-ups mentioned earlier, in this issue of The Progressive Teacher, Ashok Ganguly writes about the Great Teacher in the Education Mantra, Ajay Aggarwal shares his insights on Managing Teaching Time, Ram Gollamudi and Sangita Sawhney take us on a tour of the digital world in education, John Victor shares his thoughts on Bullying in Schools and Prabhat Kaushik talks about how to handle children with Attention Deficit Disorder in school.
We are also sending you a CD which contains select resource material for Classes 1 to 8 and the printed worksheets in The Progressive Teacher. I trust you will find it appealing and useful.
I hope you will find all the material in this issue, which has been painstakingly put together, interesting. Please share your concerns, doubts and hopes with The Progressive Teacher so that they can reach the teaching community at large.
We wish you a happy and fulfilling summer vacation.
Rita Wilson has over 40 years of rich experience as educationist including over 30 years of experience in school leadership positions. She is the former Chief Executive and Secretary Council for the ICSE, New Delhi.
She is a consultant to a number of corporate houses and educational institutions. She is serving as a Member of the Board of Governors/Managing Committees of some of the most prestigious schools and colleges of the country.
She has vast exposure to the education systems of Japan, Germany, England, Thailand, Singapore, Sharjah and Dubai. She has initiated, conducted and organised workshops for school teachers and principals all over India With a B.A. (Hons) English Literature, M.A., M.Phil. (English Literature), B.Ed. to her credit, she has edited two series of English readers and work-books for school children.