Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Teachers and Action Research

Today, more than ever, education at the school level is in a state of flux and for this reason it is important for educators to experiment, research and explore different skills, practices, and teaching pedagogy to obtain optimum quality of education in class. Action Research comes in handy in exactly such a situation. Educators and instructors who work in close contact with the actual learning environment should be encouraged to document  their observations about what went well in class and what didn't. Action Research can help find solutions to problems at the class room level. It is more effective than formal research as it addresses grass root problems faced while teaching. Often formal research is based on ideas  that might sound good in theory but don’t not work in practice.

Some important topics for Action Research deal with day to day problems faced by educators in real class room situations, for example issues faced with regard to curriculum planning, concept clarification, handling of classroom dynamics, discipline issues, handling teenage learners, and pedagogy.  The merits of action research far outweigh those of formal research as they are related to grass-root problems and practical issues faced in day to day teaching and thus they are more relevant for active teachers. In many cases Action Research deals with observations which are most valuable for ironing out difficulties that a teacher might face while explaining to his students concepts that are rather abstruse.

Case studies related to students with adjustment problems and discipline issues, attention deficit problems and how the teacher tried to tackle these might form a good topic for action research. Some of the methodologies that an educator can use for his research would be the survey and the experimental methods. It wouldn’t be right however to give too much importance to one method over the other. The statistical method of research is depends on gathering of statistical data and the use of statistical tools to support the hypothesis.

Does it mean that the findings related to action research might be more effective than formal research? I guess the value of action research should not be overlooked! Addressing problems relating to real class room issues are more relevant than researches based on hypothetical issues which might not exist in the real world.  Formal research starts with the framing of a hypothesis and then the researcher sets out to disprove or prove it. Seems as if the researcher is working on a research paper  with a prior  knowledge of the outcome!

When I was told to encourage students’ participation in the lesson and advised not to lecture students, it seemed to be a rather difficult proposition having done exactly that for ages. It is very difficult for traditional teachers to adopt a more student centric approach towards teaching as they have trained themselves to adopt an approach where the teacher leads the class into adopting the concepts that he believes in. However, to elicit the correct responses from the students, to make the students arrive at the concept and themes endorsed by the lesson requires great skills where the teacher attempts to efface himself in such a way that he doesn’t impose his ideas on to his learners.

When I joined my new assignment, I was told to adopt the concept of experiential learning. It was difficult not to impose my ideas on to the lesson, whether it was all about imposing my interpretations on the lesson being taught. Today, I facilitate the teaching of literature grammar and higher order writing by trying to elicit ideas from the students. It however doesn’t mean adopting a laissez faire approach towards the lesson! Does it mean that we need to change our teaching methodology according to the times? I guess the answer is, yes! There is a constant need for the educator to continue to adapt his pedagogy to the needs and abilities of the learners!

The observations subsequent to my action research suggest that what required  today is not to depend entirely on the  lecture method in class, not to dictate views but to elicit ideas from  students. It is more important therefore to involve students in class discussions, brainstorming sessions, problem solving exercises and making the students connect to the lesson personally and emotionally. The bone of contention is therefore whether experiential learning is an effective strategy of teaching? My experience does suggest that it is a most important strategy in today’s times where rote memorisation  might not appeal to students who are much more aware of their surroundings than their predecessors were in an earlier age.

I have observed how effective the expeditionary method of teaching is at the lower class levels from class one to class eight. Does it mean that it might not be as effective in senior classes? My observations point out to the need to integrate everyday instances with the learning situations at the senior levels. For example, while teaching report writing, it is more effective to tell the students to write a report on an actual even so that they can relate to the same personally and emotionally. The same is applicable in the case of teaching students to write job applications. Tell the students to write a job application for a position of their choice and then expose them to a mock interview. It is only after they have faced the job interview that they will have understood the need to write an effective cover letter and a bio data for a particular job! It is clear that today we need to develop the so called twenty-first century skills in our students. These skills include the ability to use technology effectively, and to be aware about current issues. Learning about job skills, learning about the importance of having the necessary abilities for a particular job, understanding about the essential qualifications of a particular job will help the students compete for various positions in the job industry.

So then, what is the purpose of education today if it is not to equip students for a successful life as adult professional? For a language teacher it is important not only to teach the student important concepts of grammar, but also to teach him or her how these skills can help him succeed in real life situations. Today it is important not only to have the correct skills but also to use them effectively! Take for example, the ability to argue a point, to express oneself effectively in a debate-this, in itself is an important skill which would help the learner be able to prove his point in a brainstorming session prior to being appointed in a good firm. The ultimate goal of action research should be therefore to identify effective teaching strategies which will empower the learners to be successful decision makers, thinkers, and problem solvers  in real life.

It goes without saying that Action Research is an important tool in the hands of the Educationist, it helps him or her deal with day to day dealings in the classroom. It is about noting which styles of pedagogy work best, it is about working on the styles of teaching and tweaking them. Action Research is about taking notes, meticulous notes, and Action Research is what makes teachers better.

Action research also follows the pattern of pure research, and this includes citing sources, developing a working bibliography, and supporting one's observations with evidences from secondary sources. Ideally, the bibliography should be in the MLA format. Also it is important for the action-researcher to add his or her 'thesis statement' or 'hypothesis' in the the introductory paragraph, the idea being that through the process of research, the researcher will attempt to prove whether or not the thesis statement or hypothesis is validated by evidence.

We have introduced research skills in school from the grade eight level onward.Students are introduced to the idea of identifying a topic, and then they derive a thesis statement. After they have identified their thesis statement or the hypothesis, the students work on gathering supporting evidence from their primary source and secondary source. After they have identified their sources, students write, paraphrase, summarise or even quote relevant information or supporting evidence on index cards. The information is then incorporated into their first draft. Exposing students as early as grade eight empowers them with essential research skills. Action research is based on these very lines and a teacher who is already conversant with research skills will be better equipped than those who are beginners.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Making of Naari


When my name was suggested for a play based on the plight of women in India today, I was a little hesitant because the last time I had taken a part in a play was when I was doing my B.Ed. from C.I.E. Akshay however took a lot of pains in putting up the play together, and finally the play when performed on the 26th. of January by teachers of the Senior Programme was a success. The success of any play however is the result of numerous rehearsals, and the number of blunders that have to be corrected and ironed out. Without saying more, I have pasted a few photographs which tell the story of the making of the play, “Naari”:

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Mr.Akshay, the Director putting in the final touches to the music to be played in the background.


And of course Alka Ma’am had a tough time choosing the correct doll as a prop!


And yes, it was a most emotional performance which both performed very well!

      Mr. Vikas played the role of an unscrupulous Groom who would marry only for Dowry!Mr.Akshay played the role of the hapless father of the bride who had been looking forward to the marriage!


Yes it was a fun role playing brothers to Vandana Ma'am in the left. Also seen in the snap are Mr. Bannerji,  I, myself, in the middle and Mr. Akshay at the right.


Anjali Ma’am and Vikas Sir, looking for that elusive moon hidden in the clouds!

The role of frightening Anjali Ma’am took a lot of practice. My shout often ended up being funnier than frightening!


Ah! The Marionettes,Parruck Sir handled the strings, Varsha Ma’am had a bad throat, Ritu Ma’am was full of energy, Khalida Ma’am and Balwinder Ma’am


Making a train at the end of each rehearsal helped all of us wind up!
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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Prayer Tower - A Poem

They call it the prayer tower, a slender needle rising into the sky,
A testament to the power of combined prayer, of thousands
Praying as one,  one voice all joined in the communion of Saints!
The tower of Babel it certainly is not, for pride and folly
Do bring towers and nations down with a crash!
So is it a monument of prayers of the humble and contrite.
Thus does the slender monument rise into the blue sky,
Borne on the slender but strong currents of prayer
For where two or more pray, strong fellowship do they make!
For  fellowship in prayer does please Him so.
Thus prayers do rise  on currents strong,
  One note and one song they make like birdsong sweet!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Why shouldn't we teach English Classic Literature to Senior Classes in School ?

What is it that makes  a literary work a classic? Why do we continue to read a classic down the ages? The answers to both questions will underpin the reason why we should teach students of all classes the classics. To be a classic a work of literature should appeal to all generations and different epochs. A classic explores those themes which are everlasting, the themes of love, sacrifice, hate, redemption, patience, and so on. These themes never end and never change! Charles Dickens’ rendering of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol strives to sensitize the reader towards disabled or special children. Phil Squad the servant in the novel Bleak House draws our attention towards how the society discriminates between those who are healthy and those who are not. It requires the vision of the second ghost in A Christmas Carol to bring about a transformation in the attitude of Mr.Scrooge towards Bob Cratchit, his family, and particularly Tiny Tim. Thus we observe how A Christmas Carol attempts to explore a sociological issue which existed in Dickens’ times and exists even today.
Should we teach the classics, in senior classes say from grades ninth to twelfth? For this I would like to take the example of Robert Frost’s Poem, The Road not Taken. If we can call Robert Frost a Modern Classicist, then I guess his poem, which is taught in class ninth in India is relevant because it highlights the need to make the correct decisions and choices that students should make early in live regarding the streams they would like to take up and careers they should take up in life! Robert Frost took a decision early in life, and “that has made all the difference.”-The Road Not Taken. Today we are as concerned about giving our students proper guidance about the streams they should take, and we hire counselors to guide them. There are various important themes that are expressed in these poems and they concern us even today. Take for example the Poem Ode to The West Wind by P.B. Shelley. The poem used to be taught in class in class tenth in English in India, but has unfortunately been removed from the English Communicative course of the CBSE Board. The poem, Ode to the West Wind in another Classic has a very important message for the young reader, namely, the message of Hope, the thought that one should never be disheartened by one’s failings as the best is yet to come. Shelley draws inspiration from the four seasons to draw out this message. Today in times when many of our young learners suffer from depression and low self esteem, it makes sense to read such classics as Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind.
It would be a good idea to introduce one Shakespearean play in the class twelve CBSE English Core syllabus, and it could be one of the easier and lighter comedy plays like As You Like It or even Merchant of Venice. I am sure that the students would like reading these plays, especially as they would be able to connect to the themes in both of these plays! Some of the poems already taught in the class twelve English core syllabus are good enough what with poems like the Road Side Stand which highlights the issue of exploitation of poor people by the rich, the existence of dual standards of Government treatment for the poor and the rich, duality of treatment and fund allocation for rural development projects and urban development projects. These are topics which would interest any aspiring student of Economics!
An article Titled: “Shakespeare and Wordsworth can boost your Morale”, appearing in The Times of India  on the fourteenth of January 2013 states, “ Reading writers like Shakespeare and Wordsworth can give a , ‘rocket-boost’ to your morale and provide better therapy than self-help books, a study of the human brain has found.” Reading of classics which are more serious in nature has the ability to catch the reader’s attention and prompt self-reflection according to the article. So then, what kind of reading can prompt reflection and stimulate the higher thought processes if not classic literature? While no doubt reading of non-fictional works like charts, essays, thesis papers and treatises might have their own importance being more contemporary, but then the purpose doing them in class might go no further than mere data interpretation. These non-fictional works might also have limited contextual value in the sense that the data and issues presented in these theses and treatises might soon become outdated unlike, of course, the classics which continue to be read even today!
Today, we talk about teaching important values in school. We talk about introducing gender studies. We talk about sensitizing students towards environmental issues, what can do this better than the Classics? A play based on these very issues would be more interesting than a plain drab treatise on moral values. What makes the case for retaining or even increasing the amount of Classics in the class’s ninth to twelfth even stronger is the fact that these classics have a strong Human Interest element, they are all about being human! Today students question the relevance of reading Shakespeare or Dickens in senior classes, but then, what would they read if not the classics? I guess they are confused having been fed on so much of chatting on social networking sites and playing of so many video games that they have somehow lost the ability for higher order, critical thinking. But then of course we can’t afford not to give them any reading materials, can we? One of the main purposes of reading is to analyze, interpret text, deduce, identify the main idea, and of course to be able to understand the message that the writer is trying to impart to us! Researchers at the University of Liverpool have studied the effect of reading classics on the brain using scanners and they have come to the conclusion that doing so, “prompted in shifting the  mind to a higher gear encouraging further reading.”
Apparently, the benefit of reading good classical literature far outweighs the need to remove the same from the K-11 and K-12 standards. The sociocultural approach towards the reading of classic literature is the need of the day especially in times where the youth is so confused, stressed, and struggling to understand how to make a balance between the gifts of technology and a culture that is fast changing into a more global one. The anthropological approach towards the teaching of classic literature highlights the importance of reading myths as, “the expression of a community mind which has enjoyed long natural growth, so that the sense of togetherness becomes patterned and semantically significant.”-Poetry, Myth, and Reality, an article by Philip Wheelwright. The Psychological plea for the teaching of classical literature at the senior levels in school is that it “involves the effort to locate and demonstrate certain recurrent patterns.”- An Introduction to Literature, 1968- Random House. The influence of Freud’s Psychology  on some of the more modern classics cannot be ignored. The issue of sexuality in modern times are reflected in some of the  works of D.H.Lawrence, Franz Kafka, and Thomas Mann!

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Upper Room - A Poem

What happened  many years ago was to change the course of the world completely! The Great book describes the event in great detail, and Leonardo da Vinci was to draw the famous painting known as The Last Supper! What made the moment so important was the twelve followers were going to be bound in a fellowship that would last longer than any blood ties known to man. The sharing of the wine and the bread, symbolic of ties going beyond any known to man would spread the message of peace, togetherness, forgiveness, fellowship and the redemption of sins. Present in the group was however one man who would betray the teacher and he knew that he would do so and yet tried to dissimulate and hide his dismay when the teacher told the assembled group that one of them would betray him by the time the Cock crowed thrice!

The room is now deserted, the supper long over! The atmosphere heavy
With expectancy. The thirteen chairs ordered still around the large heavy
Oak table. The remains of the feast lie on the table, thirteen plates empty
And yet honoured by what they held in them!  The only one tankard sits empty
On the rough-hewn table top, testament to a great moment in History!
A balmy light pours through the window, the light of hope and goodwill,
Of a prediction of a new world order, of great things accomplished that will
Herald stories of the bravery of most ordinary of men and women who will
Bring down tyrants and dictators, and those of a tarnished and empty will!
One meal and a gathering of twelve was all it took to change the will!
Honoured was the tavern- keeper who served the meal that day, a meal to last
Forever to forge a fellowship so strong; the mighty empire of eagle it brought
 Down! For the fellowship of the bread and wine be stronger than that
Forged of steel! The still life scene of the table and the chair stands a testament,
A gathering of twelve students and a teacher was all it took to change the world!
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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Encounter of a Different Kind- A Short Story

The road wound through the scrub, nothing more than a dirt track ending at a point where the water met the land. We were six boys on three scooters, Cousins and brothers, school going and of course my brother and I went to college. My cousin had just come from Mussoori and we just wanted to give him an outing that would be one of a kind. We had decided to spend the night in the open air, by the edge of the water of Lake Damdama. After getting our dinner packed from one of the food joints, we proceeded from Gurgaon. On reaching the lake, we told the guards that we would be spending the night in the open.
The first task we set ourselves was to gather dry wood, sticks to feed the fire, which we knew we would have to burn the whole night, ostensibly to keep away dangerous animals, but more specifically to give us courage because as it began to get darker, it became even more frightening; we could hardly see in the dark. Shan, my cousin from Delhi set up lighting the fire, while Hira, my cousin from Mussoori, in whose honor this outing had been planned kept looking for firewood. My younger brother heated the food and we all proceeded to have our dinner. The stars blinked in the clear sky, and the water gently lapped against the shore, and then we commenced telling each other stories, ghost stories, and soon, we saw that we would run out of fuel! So, we all set out hunting for wood, or anything that would burn, while one of my uncles, N-Gina tended the fire, another more fire-brand kind uncles, Guna lead the foray in search of fire wood! These uncles, my father’s cousins were barely elder to my younger brother and I by a few years, and they readily became part our our projects and escapades! A little later, there was a loud splash, and Shan, my cousin from Delhi exclaimed that he had fallen into the water! Guna, began scolding poor Shan, “can’t you see where you are going, you have buttons instead of eyes, ….etc.” Poor Shan replied, “but then it was so dark, and you did not give me the torch!” We all guffawed and laughed at the whole episode, while poor Shaan extracted himself from the water, which fortunately enough was not very cold!
Having gathered a huge mound of wood, we tried to turn in for the night, thin sheets and mats not affording enough padding to reduce the discomfort from the rough ground! After some time, Shaan and Hira seemed to settle for the night only a little later, Shaan shouted, “Whose that, what are you doing with my legs?” Hira replied, “ Come on I didn’t do anything"!” Thinking that this exchange warranted investigation,  my younger brother, Sanges, switched on the torch, and then exclaimed, “ Shaan, keep, still, don’t move, there’s a snake crossing over  your legs!” Shaan, hearing this fell silent, whimpering from time to time until the snake had crossed over! This incident cast a spell of fear in our hearts, and we then began to pile more wood on to the fire! We were all quite grown up, the youngest, Shaan being sixteen years old and the eldest, Uncle N-Gina being twenty five, and yet we were surely scared!
Finally, there was peace and once or twice I woke up only to hear the others snoring; reassured that the fire was alight and burning well, I went off to sleep. Only a few moments later, we were all abruptly awoken by a most dreadful ruckus coming towards us! Whipped out of sleep, we sat up suddenly to see four or five dogs chasing a Neel Gai, or the common Indian Antelope. The Antelope swerved, just in time on seeing us sit up, and plunged into the water of the lake with a loud splash and a commotion fit to frighten anyone! The dogs gave chase to the Neel Gai in the water for a little distance and then gave up! After this incident, there was no more sleep for us and we were certainly a miserable lot as we waited for the Sun to appear over the horizon. By day-break were thoroughly exhausted by our ordeal and the lack of sleep, gathering all our things, we mounted our scooters, and headed back home, where would all go  to sleep for the whole day! The two encounters of a special kind the previous night had been more than enough for all of us! My brother, Sanges, later told us that it had been the biggest snake that he had seen the previous night, “No wonder I could fee its weight on my legs!” added Shan  while we were talking about the whole incident. Both our Uncles, N-Gina, and Guna seemed to be a little disgruntled by the incident, which was natural as they could always be asked why they had allowed us to sleep under the sky in the open in a place like Damdama!

Friday, 11 January 2013

A Visit to an Eco Tourism Farm ( Eco-Tourism Farms in India)

Although the concept of Eco-Farm Tourism has been around for about five years, the novelty has not worn off. The idea deals with taking tourists and people from cities visiting farms in rural areas so that they can see for themselves how farms are run, and they can even participate in some of the farming activities. Such a concept helps develop a sense of respect and even admiration for life in rural farms. Just today, the teachers of the Senior Programme group went on an outing to one such farm located in Jajjhar. The Pratapgarh farm is a wonderful example of an Eco-Tourism Farm. After being welcomed in the traditional way, we gathered at the dining area for a sumptuous breakfast of paranthas, puris, potato curry, jalebis, fresh butter and locally made pickles. After breakfast we were divided into groups and then went off on a tour of the farm. We were astounded by the size of the turnips and the size of the radishes, all grown the natural organic way!

And Bannerji Sir enjoyed frolicking in the mustard field!
Some of the activities were fun enough and I learned how to grind grains the traditional way:
Learning to balance water pots on one’s head and holding a rather anaemic looking carrot took some practice for me, and yes that chunni came as an added incentive!
Then a lesson about learning to spin the spinning wheel, and Neelima Ma’am did it very well!
And of course there was this little bird that was busy rushing into the brush and then coming out again. Thankfully it gave me the opportunity to take a snap!
The Guinea Fowls however were inside an enclosure, but then they too were curious about the camera:

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Some of my photographs taken at the end of 2012

The presence of these antique beauties added a kick to the Winter Carnival that we had in the school. I just couldn’t help taking photographs of these antique cars which were really well maintained, exuding exclusivity and opulence of another age gone by!


I was standing tall against the car as if I owned it, but then of course there were so many others who posed against these beauties!

Sure this car might not have had an integrated trunk, but then, a trunk was surely strapped on the the back!

This was a well maintained Dodge car which would have had a powerful engine! A gas guzzler it might have been but a beauty it certainly was! The flowing lines seemed beautiful enough, masking the raw power of the engine!
Christmas was a time when there were decorations everywhere. I just thought this Christmas bell looked rather good!

Yes, and it felt great to hold a star in your hands!

A Christmas ball reflecting the lights of stars seems to be mesmerising indeed!
Flowers have a special place on every occasion, this Christmas too, flowers had a special message:

Monday, 7 January 2013

A Winter Spell-A Poem

When Winter comes calling around, an icy wind blowing,
Leaves rattle in the branches, as a fog comes rolling!
The homeless one  on the ground lies shivering,
Thin rug and blanket cold comfort give!
A season so harsh that the ill might not see it through,
And so comes the reaper with his scythe so sharp,
To prune away those that lose the will to live,
Sparing none, nor rich nor poor!
The little children are seen not  in streets nor schools,
Parents fearing to lose them in a fog so thick!
Dogs lie curled, chilled, confounded; barks
And snarls turned to whimpers soft!
Winter therefore is a season to bind; rich with poor,
Man and bird, animals and plants into company
Firm as together they have to face
  A marauder with scythe so sharp!
As the wind bites into flesh and bones so deep,
Where one and more shiver so deep,
Wishing for the godly sun to peep,
And curtains of fog to part!
So does a blanket of cold and fog mantle  the world
In a tight embrace so cold, a silence so profound,
Where laughter and cries of joy be muffled,
As the cold reaper ranges around!
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Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Challenge of teaching English as a second language in India

Nature of the Subject
English being a medium of communication should be viewed not just as a language but as an important skill which has an impact across a wide range of subjects and real life situations. It goes without saying that a good command over the language would have a positive impact on not only inter-personal social skills but also determines one’s ability to comprehend and solve complex problems. It is with this in mind that we, as facilitators need to ensure that the learners have a good grasp of the semantic and syntactical components as also the ability to communicate effectively, express ideas effectively, comprehend all forms of the language, spoken, written, and heard. To speak effectively and be able to place ideas in a logical manner, to write argumentatively and conclusively, to listen to what is spoken, picking out crucial information, and to read effectively, understanding important ideas and information are all important aspects of English as a subject. To say that English only belongs to the domain of the language teacher is a fallacy because it is a medium of instruction for different subjects and so has a definite impact on all subjects taught through it.
Content pedagogy refers to the pedagogical (teaching) skills teachers use to impart the specialized knowledge/content of their subject area(s). Effective teachers display a wide range of skills and abilities that lead to creating a learning environment where all students feel comfortable and are sure that they can succeed both academically and personally. This complex combination of skills and abilities is integrated in the professional teaching standards that also include essential knowledge, dispositions, and commitments that allow educators to practice at a high level.
Delineating effective practice and recognizing those who achieve it are important first steps in shaping the kind of teaching profession America needs. This is the core challenge embraced by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Committed to basic reform in American education, NBPTS recognizes that teaching is at the heart of education. In this light, the single most important action the nation can take to improve schools is to strengthen teaching. 
           National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  (1998).  Washington, DC: Author.  Available:
The contest in the Sub-Continent
In India, the pedagogy of English is based on mostly conventional methods and skills. However, with the introduction of CCA or CCE, the method of teaching English has had to undergo certain changes. The traditional methods included the conventional model reading in the class, question and answer session, lecture method, drills, rote memorisation, dictation of notes, brief explanation of grammar rules, and drills in grammar topics. Now, pedagogy is about exploring different and more effective ways of making teaching more student oriented, more interactive and effective. As such more importance is given to interactive methods like discussions, debates, learning by doing, experiential methods, and other activities like excursions. Grammar is today taught not in isolation, but is integrated into the written and read forms. Thus the C.B.S.E. has introduced the integrated and communicative approach towards the teaching of Grammar. Thus instead of teaching formal grammar and the learning of rules, we have exercises based on editing, close-gaps, and omissions. Today the teaching of the subject includes out of the box thinking, introduction of reading topics, novels, speeches, and biographies which go beyond the prescribed syllabus. Suggested readings in class tenth included biographies of famous writers like J.K. Rowlings, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, a speech by President Obama, a suggested reading of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as a preparation for a debate on the Relevance of Capital Punishment as a means to curb crime. At the class eleventh level, students have been given a list of a wide range of written novels like Old Man and the Sea, and A Train to Pakistan, besides being given a Research Based project for honing Higher order thinking and writing skills.
Our Approach/Position on the subject at the SP level (class tenth to twelve)
At the tenth and eleventh class levels, there has been a change in the approach towards the teaching of the subject. While the lecture method is definitely out at both levels, student participation is on the increase. However increased student participation has to be modulated and controlled lest it should distract the session from the set goals and objectives of the lesson. Similarly, linking of prescribed texts in the prescribed syllabus is important as students query the relevance of reading lessons out of context. For example, the relevance of reading the lesson Silk Route in class eleven was questioned by students, so the teacher had to explain the importance of travel literature including the importance of travelogues. On being asked about the knowledge of students about historically important travel accounts, students came up with the names of important Chinese Monks of the Buddhist era like Fa-hien and Hiuen Tsiang. It has become important to link the lessons to other subject areas like History and Commerce, Chemistry, Physics and Biology! When the students join after the winter break, we plan to read Arthur Millar’s The Crucible so that students are able to identify the theme of McCarthyism, the challenge would be to link the play to some of the themes relevant to us today.
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