The Telegraph
Thursday , May 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shun blackboard, use a ball
- Teaching aids for schools with an everyday twist, courtesy Unicef

A cricket ball is not a mere playing object. It can also be used to explain many theories to a child, for example the phenomenon of tide. Similarly, mundane articles like pots, trees and leaves can act as teaching aids.

As many as 132 teachers of residential schools run by the state welfare department have picked up many such new concepts that will help them reach out to students in a more effective manner, thanks to Unicef.

Aiming to introduce a new education paradigm in government schools, the Jharkhand unit of the world body has initiated a training module for teachers on how to make science more exploratory, languages more interactive, social sciences more critically inquiring and so on.

On Tuesday, it completed training 132 teachers of residential schools in two phases — each of six days — at Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra in Rukka, about 18km from the capital.

The programme proved to be highly beneficial for the teachers, who learnt to shun the chalk-and-blackboard method and instead embrace interactive ways of imparting lessons that make the entire teaching-learning process child-friendly.

For instance, the mentors were shown how to explain simple mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with the help of locally available materials instead of just drawing symbols on the blackboard.

“The idea is to make the teaching-learning process child-centric. Teachers have to keep pace with the students’ learning style, speed and interest. They need to use available resources while teaching, make it more interesting and discourage rote learning,” said Binoy Patnaik, education specialist of Unicef (Jharkhand).

Unicef engaged three experts, Ravikant, Dilip and Pramod to train the teachers.

“A cricket ball can work wonders in explaining the phenomenon of tide to children. Other objects like pots and trees can also be used to teach different topics to the students,” said Dilip while addressing the teachers.

The teachers were also advised to come out of the “bachcha kuch nahi janta haen (the child does not know anything)” notion. “With such a thought in mind, a teacher cannot do justice to his or her job,” the expert said.

For those who participated in the workshop, it was a totally different, first-of-its-kind experience. “Hitherto, I focused only on the syllabus. Now, I realise it was a wrong way of teaching science and that the learning process should focus on the child through practical, interactions and the like,” said Jaba Mukherjee, a teacher of Residential High School at Govindpur in Dhanbad.

She added that the state government should hold more such training programmes at regular intervals.

For Unicef (Jharkhand chapter), the workshop was just the beginning as it wants to cover all schools as part of the new education paradigm project.

“Teachers are not in the habit of engaging in innovative methods to teach new concepts. This is why the teaching-learning exercise ends up being dull. Our idea is to change the entire teaching system,” said Patnaik, promising to hold many more training programmes in the coming days.

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