Towards holistic education…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” the school curriculum should take the shape of a strong tree.

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A curriculum is the “heart” of any institution which means that schools cannot exist without a curriculum. In formal education, it has become a dynamic process due to the changes that occur in society. It refers to the “total learning experiences of individuals not only in school but society as well.” It is a planned, purposeful, progressive, and systematic process to create positive improvements in the educational system.

The school curriculum should aim to provide opportunities for all pupils to learn and to achieve and promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, therefore preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life. Every parent too needs to be a leader at home and build a unique family culture to really hit the mark. Parents should be the first builders of human trust.

The NCF was framed considering the articulated ideas in the past such as to shift learning from rote method, to ensure overall development of children, to integrate examination into classroom learning and make it more flexible, to identify caring concerns within the democratic policy of India and to nurture an identity informed by caring concerns within the democratic polity of the country. Irrespective of caste, creed, religion and sex, all should be provided with a standard curriculum.

What teachers should do?

All teachers need to reflect – ‘Are we satisfied with our methodology today? How are the students performing? Is it the way I wanted? Do we feel happiness and satisfaction when we think of school and students? Do we want to change anything anywhere? What is it I can do to scale up a performance?

Excellence is a word which means doing the right thing and working on it to do better the next time. There should be openness of thought and no rigidity in transaction of curriculum. As seen in ‘Diwaswapna’ by Gijubai, a system which can be compromised but which does not impact deliverables is always welcome and teachers need to reflect on this despite resistance to change as can be expected, teachers must move with the needs of the time.

A curriculum which brings out an awakened citizen has to be created by us. Communication is the key of creating such a citizen. Today’s shift should be on globalism and world peace as that is the order of the day.

Planning for success…

“Nobody plans to fail but failure results from a failure to plan.” Planning, articulating and developing, implementing, putting into practice, evaluating, updating the program and determining the success of the program are important.

Children should feel that they are valued and their voices are heard. The curriculum structure and school should be designed to make school a satisfactory place for students. Empowering every child to be a self-motivated learner is very important for the success of a good curriculum.

Learning without burden to make learning a joyful experience and moving away from textbooks should be a basis for examination to remove stress from children in the lower classes.

Elementary education…

The ages 3 to 6 are called magic years as the pace of growth and development is the fastest and most rapid. If curriculum is not properly planned and child centric, it can kill the talent of the child and make him unable to learn. Development is a continuous process during prenatal period and there should be good synergy between adequate nutrition, physical exercise and other psycho social needs. Participation in yoga and sports in required. Participation through child centred, family focussed intervention is very important. The teacher is the nerve centre of the whole education process.

Primary-middle school education…

Primary, upper primary and middle school should provide the space for children to explore and develop rational thinking to have sufficient knowledge on concepts, language, knowledge, investigation and validation procedures. Learning to know, learning to be, learning to do and learning to live together are very important for better and enhanced learning.

Education for adolescents…

Adolescence is a vulnerable age for students and the curriculum should prepare the students and provide support for social and emotional support that will inculcate positive behavior and provide skills essential to cope with situations that they encounter in their lives, peer pressure and gender stereotype. A vocational skill is one such option.

Constructive learning has to be part of the curriculum. Situations and opportunities have to be created for students to provide challenges, encourage creativity and active participation for students.

Contemporary learning…

Interdisciplinary studies is the new approach to learning. It is ideal to address certain important problems in students. There should be a shift from content-based teaching to problem solving and understanding. Schools should evolve continuous evaluation for diagnosis and remedial learning. Children appreciate the simple pleasures and enjoy if learnt in a non threatening environment.

Time tables and curriculum seem to have a fixed order of their own. The timetable should be the lifeline of the school. It should be student and teacher friendly, error free, editable, flexible and efficient.

Children should feel that they are valued and their voices are heard. The curriculum structure and school should be designed to make school a satisfactory place for students. Empowering every child to be a self-motivated learner is very important for the success of a good curriculum.

Importance of various subjects…

Students respond to music before they learn to speak. Children learn something new by connecting to something older. Musical training affects organizational and anatomical structure of the brain. It has been proven that music is the best stimulus for the brain. It improves environments in the classroom. Practicing music vocally or through instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and non verbal reasoning. In higher cognitive domains, music holds significant educational promise.

Spoken English is to be given more importance. Teachers must prioritize on literacy and then on spoken English.

All students can learn and need to learn Mathematics. In Maths, number sums are to be taught first and then problem sums. Pedagogy and learning environment have to be made favorable to develop interest by going far beyond basic skills and include variety of mathematics models which devotes a greater percentage of instructional time to problem solving and active learning.

Introduction of computers in schools is to move from a predetermined set of outcomes and skill sets to one that enables students to develop explanatory reasoning and other higher-order skills. Students can access sources of knowledge, interpret them, and create knowledge rather than be passive users.

The Pedagogy of learning sciences should be designed to address the aims of learning facts and principles of science and it’s applications, consistent with the stage of cognitive development, to acquire skills and understand the methods and processes that lead to validation of scientific knowledge, to nurture natural curiosity, aesthetic sense and creativity in science and technology, to imbibe concern for life and preservation of environment and to cultivate ‘scientific temper’-objectivity.

Social science is necessary to assist students to explore their interests and aptitudes, to encourage to explore higher levels of knowledge in different disciplines, to promote problem-solving abilities and creative thinking, to introduce students to different ways of collecting and processing data and information in specific disciplines, and help arrive at conclusions, and to generate new insights and knowledge in the process.

The objectives of including art education in schools is to bring about complete development of the student’s personality and mental health, to appreciate cultural heritage and develop respect for each other’s work and connect to environment.

Health and Physical Education is necessary to provide theoretical and practical inputs, to provide an integrated and holistic understanding of health, disease, accidents and physical fitness among children, to provide skills for dealing with psycho-social issues in the school, home and the community, to help children grow as responsible citizens by inculcating in them certain social and moral values through games, sports, N.C.C., Red Cross, Scouts & Guides, etc.

Skill development…

Skills that are developed as part of curriculum activity such as listening with patience and endurance, purity of mind to develop concentration, aptitude for cooperation and teamwork, acceptance of discipline, and a positive attitude to study/work are the trademarks of a good student having the skills of a peace-oriented person. In other words, today Emotional Quotient should play a greater role than IQ.Thus the curriculum should also inculcate peace and democracy into students.

Involving children in a variety of production or service oriented activities, to develop skills, positive attitudes, values and competencies are important part of a curriculum.

Involving children in a variety of production or service oriented activities, to develop skills, positive attitudes, values and competencies are important part of a curriculum.

Making education inclusive…

Policy of inclusion has to be part of the school where differently abled and children from marginalized section get equal opportunities. Well equipped with libraries, laboratories and educational technology laboratories are important.

Schools should evolve continuous evaluation for diagnosis and remedial learning. The curriculum should function as an instrument of social transformation and an egalitarian social order. The system needs to respond to the cultural pluralism inherent in our society and to strengthen by enabling the younger generation to reinterpret and re-evaluate the past with reference to new priorities and emerging outlooks of a changing societal context.

Today, there is a need to adopt a substantive approach, towards equality of outcome and equality of citizens where diversity, difference and disadvantage are taken into account.

To conclude, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” the school curriculum should take the shape of a strong tree.

Gowri Venkatesh is Vice Principal at Delhi Public School Nacharam, Secunderabad. She has 30 plus years of teaching experience. She is also the Head Examiner for CBSE board exams. She is a post graduate in English literature and has qualified the Advanced level of the Trinity School of London GESE exams. She has also been credited with commendation for her action research project under Global Teacher Accreditation (GTA) on Team Building using Emotional Intelligence. She has also successfully done a course on Differentiated Instruction-Best Classroom practices from the Harvard University of Education (USA).