Monday, August 5, 2013

Pointers that educators should take note of

A comment on FB inviting suggestions for improving TFI's (Teach for India's) methods led me to this rant.... (I'm putting line breaks here to make it more readable... apologies to the poor souls who had to read it in a continuous paragraph..)

Unnecessary repetition might be a good place to start. (the preceding comment had been erroneously posted 3 times.. oh how i love taking advantage of glitches) 

It might be worthwhile to consider what the world's leaders in alternative education / deschooling movement have been telling since decades 
(and which was never mentioned to us in Insti, (referring to Insitute, a 5 week training program that TFI put us through before our fellowship in which they'd promised to cover everything we needed to know about edu sector) making it the political equivalent of teaching a course on world history of freedom struggles without making a single mention of Gandhi, Mandela or any nonviolent freedom struggle) : 

That learning is NOT a product of teaching. 

That kids learn best about life by actually living it, not by spending valuable hours locked away from it. 

That exams/tests/assessments are probably the worst way to check for real learning. 


That the real world does not exist on paper. 

That learning is wholesome (cannot fragmented into splittable units and objectives and SWBATs) 

..and extremely non-linear; I've met people over the past year (who were never forced into school) who mastered in a few weeks when the right time came, what we assume takes 10 years of schooling.. it's because they spent many years quietly absorbing it all without getting tested at every step. 

That kids can really learn what is truly relevant to them simply by self-initiated observation, imitation and play/improvisation. 

That play is the essential way every mammal on this planet learns how to be a successful adult, 

..and that kids of the most peaceful cultures are seen to be playing all the time. 

That learning is accelerated when kids are mixed with multiple age groups. 

 That sitting for hours in a classroom has been found by modern psychology to be the LEAST conducive learning environment. 

That talking A LOT is essential to real learning. 

That most kids, like most adults, learn by example, not by instruction. 

That regular exposure to the natural ecosystem : to plants, soil, birds, animals, insects, landscapes, has everything to do with brain and body development. 

It would be a great idea for the TFI content planners to actually meet real educators, to not dismiss parts of their advice with "oh, we can't do that in our situation" and then complain that it didn't work the same; and if they actually read books on how children learn (written by psychologists and taking inputs from and observations of actual children) rather than books on how they should be educated (written by industrialists, fundraisers and policy makers).

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