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Teachers need to change…

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If the government really wants to do something for the people, then two sectors – education and health – are the areas where it needs to focus its energies. Though training of teachers – their capacity building is an ongoing feature which has been going on all along, but obviously this has not yielded desired results so far, as is evident from the very decimal performance of the government schools. So if the government really wants to improve the performance of its schools, it will have to start with the teachers. It is the teachers who need to change and this is because they are “the super-engines of change”.

Living in the third or say fourth wave society as we are, the dynamics and settings of both schools and classrooms have changed a great deal. During the yesteryears, it was more or less a one-way communication, top-down model that would be followed inside schools and classrooms with teacher at the apex and students in the bottom. But today the same has been replaced with two-way linear models of communication wherein teacher is at the best only a participant observer in class-room activity. He/she is a friend and a facilitator in a teaching-learning process which has to be mutually enthusing, enriching, interesting and fulfilling for both – the teacher as well as the students.

Western world has proved the success of this linear model beyond doubt. For instance, the punishments of any sort are an outdated concept in school systems there, and obviously outright illegal. Yet we see the education system thriving there and this is one of the reasons for them having left the global south or the third world way behind on the educational super-highway.

There is nothing wrong in emulating any concept or model, irrespective of its origin, if it is thought worthy of copying for the larger interests and benefit of the society, much like the way we copy modern medical and diagnostic techniques of the West to help the ailing people in this part of the world. So if we have to bring in better and scientific pedagogical concepts into our school system and in our class-rooms, it is the teachers who will have to be willing to change and adapt to the newer concepts first. They will have to give up the ‘my way or the highway’ rigidity of a traditional teacher and be flexible to changes that hold big promise for the society and the nation.

It is the teachers who will have to be willing to change because given that they have access to a whole lot of students in an assembly line manner (although a very mechanical concept), they are the ones capable of multiplying that change into a ripple effect that would transform entire society for good. So the capacity-building of teachers will have to start off from exposing them to new concepts of pedagogy, wherein focus is – as much as on what teacher says in the classroom, also on how he or she says it, and mediates and moderates interactions within the classroom. The teachers need to be exposed to, and made to think beyond the traditional lectures and ‘dictating notes’. They need to be taught about other techniques like simulations and role-plays, use of teaching aids and other techniques as would ensure active communication and participation of the students.

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