REFLECTIONS OF AN EDUCATOR : A BIRDS EYEVIEW
Is our learning relevant to the present time?
I am a Secondary school teacher teaching science and mathematics in Ahmedabad. Today, I see the same topics with the same context in the textbooks which I experienced during my school time. So the question that pops up in my head is -
‘Do our textbooks reflect the reality of the contemporary times and social structures?’
While we say India is a diverse country in terms of geographical locations, languages, culture and belief systems, do we have any special set up to cater to this diversity?
We have a set of textbooks which we implement throughout the country and expect 265 million students will understand and gain knowledge.
The reality for people living in Lower Himalayan range of Shivalik are the jungles, livestocks and mountains. Knowledge about the jungle is their heritage something they know inherently. They don't own factories and vehicles which create pollution, but they know the behaviour of wild animals and how to coexist. For them textbook knowledge is irrelevant because they will not be able to live only with that!
Hema (name changed), one of the enthusiastic learners here, is giving her 10th grade exams from open board. She asked me the meaning of lots of words like “Vividhata”, “Bhavya”, “Kalatmak”, and a lot more. She is sharp but her learning is dependent on other people only because of the language barrier. Here we are talking about 20 something year old adult, but think about a kid who is going to school for the first time.
Can't we contextualise textbooks at least for elementary students in terms of language and their surroundings to build their interest and make learning relevant for rural, forest dweller and tribal students?
While working with Samanta, I used to go to jungles to meet communities. As we travelled we crossed several empty rivers and the depleting forest cover and life. I asked the question to myself -
What are we showing to our next generation in textbooks?
The answer to it is - an Illusion.
In the name of scenery drawing we ask them to draw a river filled with water and fishes, green and plastic free jungles, mountains without roads and tunnels in their primary grades. We include these type of pictures in the textbooks also. They have been drawing and seeing it since their childhood, it has become a reality for them.
The need for textbooks in the teaching learning process is crucial. Because it acts as a reference material for the teacher to make a base of learning and put the reality of the situation in front of the students. After this, students will decide how they want to act on it.
Firstly, In India, a significant number of teachers are trained to teach from textbooks. The use of internet information to make lesson plans is merely used.
Secondly, problem is the non accessibility of the internet, so the information regarding the changing world needs to be circulated through textbooks. First to the teacher and from there to the students.
Textbooks should be relevant to the present time. It should show what we are expecting from the students to think about. By that time, the situations which are coming out because of the change in needs and actions are not included in the textbooks.
Take an example of an English textbook - the text can be chosen which addresses the new emerging technologies, biases of the society, changing the type of office-work system, accepting all genders, climate change crisis and lots more.
BANSRI RABADIYA & PRASHANT