Issues Of Curriculum – let’s fix
Children are unique individuals with diverse interests and aptitudes being unfolded in a complex psychosocial ecosystem. A uniform curriculum with water tight schedule and strategies will stifle budding talents and potentials.
~by S.L. Jain | Director, Mahavir Senior Model School
It is now established and realised that all children are different individuals and have different interests, tastes, aptitudes and habits as well as backgrounds. Students cannot be dealt with and given the same kind of treatment in a uniform way as the saying goes ‘one size doesn’t fit all.’
Unfortunately in the present system of education, the curriculum is imposed on the schools and teachers by the higher authorities. It curbs innate need for learning, curiosity, and leads to irreversible damage to psyche of students. It is right to say that there cannot be 40 or 50 kinds of syllabus content customised for each type of student but the students can surely be identified and grouped into 4 to 5 groups. The curriculum, syllabus, content, chapters etc. can be designed and customised and rationalised to meet the requirements of such groups of students.
Some of the students might be very bright, talented and outstanding. They learn whatever is taught to them very easily without efforts and really become rock stars of the school. On the other spectrum, there are students who find it difficult to comprehend the simple as well as not so complex contents of various subjects. Thus, while no one benefits, when a uniform curriculum is taught, students are at the receiving end of the ire and displeasure of the teachers, parents, and the complete education system and ultimately develop inferiority complex and grow with the belief that they are good for nothing and cannot achieve anything in life. All through their lives they suffer a very low self esteem.
Every class has students across a wide variety of spectrum providing a normal distribution (bell shaped) curve. Teachers take up strategies and pace applicable to middle most – children with average potentialities. While doing so, children on the positive and negative side are ignored. Both are equally robbed of an opportunity to unfold the latent potentialities. The irony is that teaching does not even benefit the learner with average potentialities. Their promising talent is also lost in an attempt to acquiescence to the teacher, who was attempting acquiescence to the devised curriculum.
As a matter of fact, the whole curriculum and school system should be so devised and designed that it can take care of the physical, emotional and cognitive needs of the child who needs maximum care and attention while being attended to in the school as well as at home. Any child must not be scolded or made to feel bad. On the contrary, children are continuously tortured and harassed by being compared with the children in the same class or in the family, especially by the parents.
Our education system must have an inbuilt sympathy towards such students. The content , syllabus, curriculum and books and the system of handling now children inside and out of the classroom must be customised with adequate rationalisation.
The whole school program needs to be modified to be compatible with varying interests and potentialities of children. It should aim towards enhancing curiosity and exploration. Increased emphasis should be placed on art, music, dance, drama, storytelling and crafts.
For instance, in class 1 and class 2, students are taught the concept of spellings and numerals written in words. While it is difficult to learn spellings, the young mind is unable to comprehend the relevance of learning these spellings. In what way learning spellings of 90 or 99 will enhance proficiency in arithmetic? Similarly, backward counting and other such topics are also difficult to comprehend by large number of students.
In other subjects such as, languages, science, and social science, there are a number of chapters which are difficult to comprehend by students particularly when the teachers are not fully trained and equipped to deal with such topics according to the requirements of the students.
In most schools, teaching aids are scantily available to support teachers. Most of the instructions and classroom transactions take place on the basis of chalk and talk method.
Empathy and understating, I believe is a part of the teaching fraternity’s ethics and ethos and it should be considered as the integral part of the curriculum. In fact the teacher has to act as a counselor who has to counsel and students who need extra attention or have to be dealt with in a more delicate way than the intelligent ones who always draw and earn win goodwill and patronage of the teacher.
The whole school program needs to be modified to be compatible with varying interests and potentialities of children. It should be aimed towards enhancing curiosity and exploration. Increased emphasis should be placed on art, music, dance, drama, storytelling and crafts.
When the world is moving towards global economy, education should also move towards collaboration rather than competition. Increased emphasis should be placed on art, music, dance, drama, storytelling and crafts. Due emphasis should be given to health, physical education, yoga, meditation and some kind of prayers which are not related to any specific ritual or religious practice.
When the students are not properly dealt with, they develop in themselves a sense of insecurity and also a sense of rage expressed at times as revolt against the system. They also develop traits of indiscipline and delinquent behaviour.
Love, understanding ,empathy , consideration must be an integral part of any curriculum and content in the school education system and it should go right across from the beginning classes to the senior secondary level.
The pressure on the students must be eased, competition among the students must be redirected to a healthy, mutual evolution level.
The New Education Policy 2019 has taken some steps in this direction whereby students will have a lot of flexibility of moving from one subject to another.They will have more choices and options along with the semester system for their periodic assessment for promotions to the next higher class .
But the question is whether the infrastructure and the mind makeup of the teachers and the authorities is positive in this direction. What steps will be taken to bring about the required changes also remains a question mark.
Further, importance of local conditions cannot be overemphasized. Each school and its management and academicians must understand that the material and resources which are available locally should be utilised and the students should be trained in the local skills and crafts.
Critically, schools and their managements, should be both trained and encouraged to show initiative, innovativeness in designing individual curricula as per prescribed syllabus. Cognitive skills along with love of the environment should be supported. This will necessarily lead to the whole of education system having more of missionaries and not mercenaries!
S.L. Jain, MCom B.Ed. is Director, Mahavir Senior Model School.He is Founder Principal of Mahavir Senior Model School, Sangam Park Ext, Delhi and Former Chairman, National Progressive Schools’ Conference. He also worked at Delhi Public School. Mathura Road, New Delhi for 13 years in various capacities including Head of Commerce Department; Member Managing Committee; Convener, Fete Committee and In-charge, Co-curricular, extra curricular activities. He has received coveted CBSE Teachers Award 2003, Delhi State Award 2004 and National Award 2008.