Eenrichment orientation in schools


‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,’
–Martin Luther King.

As a parent and a teacher-educator, I have felt that the school can extend itself more to fulfill its responsibilities and create happy children. Children going to school look burdened with their school-bags as well as the activities in the school. The interest in learning is not at its optimum. How can we create an environment fit for learning? How can we enrich our children fully to be equipped for the world?

The main aspect of schooling is the curriculum which must help children to think intensively and think critically. ‘Theme based approach’ to teaching infuses greater collaboration of teachers and an integration of all subjects into one whole. The teachers could decide the themes amicably after intensive discussion and research. Parents can also be oriented to the themes and can be involved accordingly. The whole school can celebrate learning theme-wise making teaching-learning more intensive.

An enriching discussion forum to make education more interactive among teachers can help teachers discuss the challenges faced in teaching. It is often seen by parents that children do not gain conceptual understanding. Teachers want to complete their portion on time and conduct the required examinations. Children must be taught to look at the curriculum more critically and make it more relevant to their situation. Schools must provide opportunities for ‘higher order thinking skills’ and discourage rote memorization.

Teachers must focus more on the student’s internal growth rather than marks. There is minimal class-room interaction, which leads to less understanding of the content taught. Moreover, large classes add to the misery of the teacher.

Friendly classrooms with supportive infrastructure could be geared towards enrichment of students. For more intensive interaction, we need moldable furniture. Teachers must be able to change the structure of the class to suit the students’ needs. Children will then be able to come out of the monotony of the classroom instruction and they can enjoy the difference. Moreover, the benches and chairs must be colourful and could be made of material on which the students can write, for example: piece of chalk-board material, so that they can scribble their critical thoughts. It would be a good idea to have an extension in the benches so that they do not suffer from space crunch.
A flexible timetable will give rise to more ideas and more intense activity. Most schools have fixed timetables which are unaltered. This does not motivate teachers to think out of the box. Teachers need time to check each child’s performance and also to tackle their learning problems.

When parents come to the teachers with the problems of the child’s education, then teachers advise them to send the child for tuitions. Schools must take responsibility of every child whether good or bad, intelligent or weak. Extra tuition, therefore, is not a solution but remedial classes are. These remedial classes must be graded according to the need of the child. The supervised study programme can be organized to enhance the study skills of the child. The school can provide the facilities to students to study after school hours. It is a good idea to ask parents to volunteer for the same. A regular parent interaction programme can keep the parents updated with many activities of the school as well as keep them involved.

Schools must encourage teachers to develop a close bond with their students. A home visit by teachers, if encouraged by the school, can work marvels for the slow learners and students who do not pay attention in class. The knowledge of the context of the learner, will make teaching more intensive.

As children grow up, their peers are very important to them. Psychology has enumerated a number of theories of peer enrichment. Children are enriched by their peers in a more satisfying manner. Peer training must be carried out in schools. Much of the discipline problem can be controlled if we openly speak to the children about peer influence.
Interactive Textbooks helps develop the child’s critical thinking ability. Teachers must intersperse the lesson with the child’s own experience and his perspective, his thought processes must be given more importance. Technology has become an aid to the teacher and it is through technology that the students can reach the highest level of understanding and participation.Thus technology can be used in terms of ready made quizzes, talk shows, videos, word-games, interactive simulations all available on the web which the child can gain access to.

Schools must give the children some buffertime, which will help them to cope with their school portion. Some schools have hobby classes for the children. These hobby classes must not be linked to marks, children must enjoy the pleasure of just participating in these classes so that they feel emotionally enriched by these activities.
Students can unleash their creative potential on the classroom walls in the form of charts and cutouts whether it is 2D or3D. Teachers can put their minds into the classroom displays and reinforce students towards knowing themselves.

Children who are kinesthetic in nature can find this as a carpet of creativity. The displays in the classroom must not be a photocopy of the textbook but the child’s own imagination of the concepts..Teachers and school authorities can go a bit further and creatively decorate the walls of the corridors, the staircases and the floors of the school if possible with creative talents.

The neglected affective domain can be given importance by making the child reach out to the least advantaged. It is the responsibility of the teachers to expose the child to various situations to develop the child’s sensitivity. Sometimes it is seen that students get into punching, spitting, giving bad words, accusing the peers, emoting in an uncontrolled manner. All this kind of behaviour needs to be controlled. The school must develop community orientation in order to enrich the child’s affective domain.

Teachers must show the positive direction to the students. The work environment affects the work quality and output of teachers. No environment can be enriched without research and adequate resources. Research helps in looking at problems in depth. Action research helps in solving the daily problems of teachers and also gives them the hope that things can be better. It develops a close bond between the children and the school. It also helps teachers to publish their results for the development of other educational institutions.

In conclusion, enriched learning is when a child learns to think and think critically to improve his own environment. Teachers must teach the children to look within and examine themselves. They must be aware of their own thoughts and behaviour, if they have achieved this education has taken place.

Dr. Vini Sebastian, Associate Professor, St. Xavier’s Institute of Education, 40-A, New Marine Lines, Churchgate. Mumbai -400020. Dr. Vini Sebastian is a teacher educator for the last 20 years and has been involved in curriculum development in the University of Mumbai, research and extension work in teacher education. Dr. Vini Sebastian is an author of the book ‘Harnessing Parent Resource for Schools’, Lulu Publication. Dr. Vini has completed her research in the area of ‘Academic freedom, Accountability and Professionalism of Teachers in Higher Education’. With so many years of experience in teacher education she believes that, ‘Education is the only way to transform hearts’. St. Xavier’s Institute of Education is the oldest, teacher education institution in the city of Mumbai.