The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Schooling tips for British teachers

For a group of educators from the UK, in the city this week, the plan is to learn. And it’s teaching techniques in the timetable, as they pick up tips on creativity in the Calcutta classroom.

The team of 10 teachers from four schools in Wolverhampton, England, led by a representative of the local education authority, is only the second batch to come to India as part of the Teachers’ International Professional Development programme, after a delegation to Delhi in January.

Funded by the Department for International Development and managed by the British Council, it is aimed at giving teachers from the UK the opportunity to experience “good educational practices” from different countries.

On the schedule here, for the nine-day-long programme, from October 27 to November 4, are trips to two educational institutions — Calcutta International School (CIS) and Loreto Day School, Sealdah. CIS is on the agenda on Tuesday, and from October 29 to November 3, it’s Loreto, Sealdah, with a trip on Thursday to one of its education projects in the districts.

The point of the exercise is to acquire “innovative methods” of teaching children, to “make learning more fun” at the primary level. “The system has become so rigid and exam-based that the children don’t care. Here, for example, art and craft play an important role, which is lost in UK classrooms, and we want to pick that up again,” said Emma Parkinson, from Priory Green Primary School.

One teacher pointed out that since going to school is compulsory back home, it is a privilege often taken for granted by children. So, motivation, through out-of-the-curriculum methods of teaching, is the key. While Cynthia Hall, head teacher of a school, explained: “We have a resource centre for children with learning disabilities. So, integration in the mainstream, by using creative and unusual teaching tools, is what we hope to gain.”

Sister Cyril, principal of Loreto, Sealdah, had this to offer: “We often have to come up with our own tools and methods, because we don’t have the resources to buy what is available. Also, we have students whose parents are often uneducated. So, our aim is not just to teach, but to help the children learn.”

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