As a schoolteacher and as a school principal, I have been trying several experiments – albeit on a miniscule manner to make the children become independent thinkers. I must say there have not been many takers to this concept.
Year 1989. I had just joined as a teacher in one of the reputed schools of north Mumbai. There was a need for a Hindi teacher and the principal wanted me to exchange classes with a teacher of grade one who would come to my class to teach Hindi and I could teach Maths in that class.
It was a nightmare. I had not anticipated the problems that I would face in distributing books in the class. The books had to be kept in the school so, l had to call out the names and hand over the books to the children. By the time I had done that, there was barely 10 minutes left for the bell. The other division teachers had no problem for, they were home room teachers. I had to also keep pace with the other divisions so that the parents don’t complain and the portion is equally dealt with. After a week, I mustered up courage to knock on the doors of the principal’s office. She asked me in and politely asked me what the matter was. I told her that I could not possibly teach mathematics in grade 1. Now what I saw was a different principal. She pulled down her spectacles to the bridge of her nose, looked at me from above that and asked me in a no nonsense tone; “You can’t teach Hindi, you can’t teach Maths, what can you teach?” I walked out absolutely crestfallen. I knew she was right. I had no business to say I can’t teach Maths to grade 1. This led to a technique that I developed – Teaching Maths through Fairy tales”. Soon, the children loved Maths and it was easy to teach them. They would refer to me as Math teacher.
In the year 2004, we conducted our primary section classes without a textbook. I was fortunate enough to be in school as a principal where the management gave a free hand. The children loved studying their environment, relating it to the world and to date remember it. Quite a few of these children and teachers are still in touch with me.
With the passage of time, I realized that students were getting more and more stressed with the number of chapters that they had to memorize for the assessments. A student of mine sent me a forward on WhatsApp which said “Die Empty” with a message that I should pass on my knowledge to the others as I move on. That made me write a book with all the knowledge that I had gained over the years. – From Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching which is available on Amazon.in and FlipKart.
The Association of ICSE school principals gave me a chance to present the book to the audience of 1500 principals and I spoke for 16 minutes. The Talk was well received. One would think a 1000 copies would be sold! Subsequently, I thought I would be invited to conduct collaborative learning techniques to the schools where the students would be independent learners and teachers would be facilitators. I was mistaken. Both didn’t happen.
I published articles on collaborative techniques. Have not received any mail to get more details on the topic. Mentioning a few herein as a ready reference:
The NEP 2020 is a huge ambitious project. The mindset change has to begin from the top.