Quality Improvement can be suggested in two contexts :
- In the context of continuing the present system of education, but making it, somewhat better;
- In the context of indispensable radical innovations leading to a change in the structure of the curriculum and methods of evaluation.
In this note, we shall confine to a programme that can be suggested for quality improvement in the context (1) above.
Improvement in the Environment :
We need to ensure that suitable means of transmission are used so that the following messages vibrate in the atmosphere and environment of the entire State :
- Primacy of the child;
Sovereignty of the child;
Divinity of the child
- Every child matters The child : above us all The child : The Symbol of the Future The child : The Builder of the Future The child : The Symbol of Unending Education The child : all play is learning all learning is play.
- Nothing should be done in the public which harms the physical, mental and spiritual health of the child.
Happy childhood ensures happy adulthood.
Happy child : the measure of social happiness.
Education of the girl-child : The most important programme.
- Education of the child begins with the education of parents.
Education of the child begins in the womb of the mother.
Parents' education: indispensable Parents, learn the lessons of child nutrition.
Parents, learn the lessons of child's health.
Parents, learn to keep the child happy.
- Child is always happy when it grows, develops and progresses.
Parents, ensure child's growth, development and progress.
Parents, learn the lessons of the First Aid.
Parents, keep your homes clean, tidy and beautiful.
Plant trees on every auspicious occasion.
- Flowers are the symbol of God's smile.
Surround homes and schools with flowers and vegetation.
Every school must have a garden.
Every classroom should be daily decorated with fresh flowers.
Gardening : a natural activity of every good school.
Physical Labour : best means of bodys' worship Self reliance : indispensable virtue.
Role of Stories and Plays :
- Every teacher should be equipped with at least 100 stories relating to the following themes :
- Beauty, and
- Stories for children, collected from Gujarat, India and the world, should be made available to all the teachers whether they belong to Kinder Garten, or to higher levels of education.
- Short Stories for children, such as those written by Gijubhai, Jhaverchand Meghani and others should be put on celluloid and these film-strips should be relayed regularly through the TV etc. They should also be made available to the parents and teachers at very low cost.
- Every school should be provided with a catalogue of good films for children, and every school should have a library of good films for children
- Every school should have access to a good list of one-act plays as also of other good plays, which can be recommended for children's performance.
- Every school should have the possibility for organizing at least four programmes every month relating to: music, drama, dance, and recitation of poems
Linguistic Competence and Mental Calculations :
Teachers should take great care to ensure that ‒
- every child who has crossed class IV is able to express himself/herself in one or two languages with clear pronunciation, in the right tone and pitch, and is able to recite a good poem in the right rhythm.
- every child who has crossed the level of class 7 is able to express himself/herself in two to three languages with clear pronunciation and is also able to write one good passage without any mistake.
- Every child who has crossed the level of class 7 is capable of rapid calculations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- every child who has crossed class 7 is able to write a short report of an event and is also able to write a good letter to his/her parents, friends and to some other people with whom he has encounters in connection with some work at home or at the school.
- every child who has crossed class 7 has a good stock of proverbs, idioms and memorized poems and verses in Sanskrit and other languages.
(n) It should be emphasized that if one has a sincere and steady aspiration, a persistent and dynamic will, one is sure to meet in one way or another, externally by study and instruction, internally by concentration, revelation or experience, the help one needs to reach the goal. Only one thing is absolutely indispensable, the will to discover and realize. This discovery and this realization should be the primary occupation of the being, the pearl of great price which one should acquire at any cost. Whatever one does, whatever one's occupation and activity, the will to find the truth of one's being and to unite with it must always be living, always present behind all one does, all that one thinks, all that one experiences.
All the above suggestions are to be implemented from day to day under various circumstances and in the context of living problems of the growth of children.
The role of the teacher is to put the child upon the right road to its own perfection and encourage it to follow it, watching, suggesting, helping, but not imposing or interfering. The best method of suggestion is by personal example, daily conversation and books read from day to day.
Physical Fitness and Self Reliance :
(a) Every child who crosses class 5 should be able ro maintain at every higher level of education good physical fitness and some proficiency in regard to one or two games, yogic asnas and pranayama and is able to look after his/her own physical development, so that the body is healthy, strong, agile. Simplicity of life bestows beauty.
(b) Every child has to be ensured that he/she is self- reliant and is capable of looking after his/her needs of simple food, fruits, vegetables and upkeep of his/her surroundings absolutely clean and tidy.
No child should be promoted to class 8, unless he/she satisfies the school authorities in respect of all the above mentioned requirements of development of child's fitness, habits, manners and minimum qualities of speech, recitation, writing and power of arithmetic calculations and also skills in regard to games and art/craft.
Higher Levels of Improvement
- Preliminary concerns : Our system of education is lecture-oriented. Hence, all our teachers are required to communicate through lectures. Some good teachers supplement their lectures by conversations, talks, and question-answer sessions. What is done by some good teachers should be done by all teachers, so that all teachers become good teachers.
- Oral method of instruction is enhanced by underlining key-words and key-phrases. Teachers will find that key- words and key-phrases, when repeated in different contexts, enable students to understand the main idea of the topic that is sought to be communicated. For every topic, there is always a key-word or a key-phrase. Hence, every teacher should find out for every topic a key-word or a key-phrase and communicate it to the students effectively.
- A good lecture becomes better, when the teacher is able to intersperse it with a good story or with an anecdote or with a narration of an event. Hence, teachers should be in constant touch with good stories, which can illustrate the main theme of the lecture.
- Again, a lecture becomes very instructive, when the teacher provides a good deal of background material. This background material can consist of history of the idea that is sought to be expounded; it could also be concerned with the other associated ideas. It should be, however, noted that a good lecture emerges always from the lecturer's deep contemplation about the subject of the lecture. Striking words, rich background material and sparkling rain of ideas; these constitute a good lecture, and teachers should strive, through deep contemplation, at these qualities in their lectures.
- Good Understanding : The most important aim of a lecture should be to enable students to arrive at "good understanding", - understanding that consists of the grasp of meaning, significance and value of the ideas that are expounded in the lecture.
Understanding is normally a result of a quest, which consists of a question accompanied by efforts to grope and to find an answer.
The teacher should always ask one central question : "What am I to aim at while teaching ?" Further, he should ask the question: "What is worth understanding?" "What material should I collect ?" and "What associated ideas in the context of which, what I have to teach will assist the process of understanding on the part of student ?"
- Assessment of Understanding: How to understand that a student has understood what has been sought to understand?
The teacher should not be in a hurry to evaluate whether student has understood or not. The twinkle in the eye of the student is often a measure of understanding on the part of the student. The capacity of a student to build up connections of ideas concerning the subject is another measure. Understanding is also measured in terms of student's "flexible performance capability." In other words, learning for understanding is like learning to hold a good conversation or to climb a rock. Learning facts can be a crucial backdrop to learning for understanding. But learning facts is itself not learning for understanding. It is only when learning of facts enables a student to perform and build a farther structure that can be considered to be learning for understanding.
As this subject is very important, we may analyse the process of understanding into two stages: first, the student should be able to look straight into the centre of the word, of the idea, of the subject; and this is followed by the perception of continuous grasp and process of meaning that settles down in the consciousness in a state of satisfaction and repose. Every process of understanding is centred on meaning, and the teacher's ability can be judged by the way in which the context is created, and meaning emerges with a shining spark. Ultimately, a good teacher helps the students in expanding the realm of meanings, until students are left to raise larger question of meaning of the universe and of our place in it.
- Quality of understanding : Quality of education is centrally located in the quality of understanding that the teachers can evoke in students.
- This evocation is initiation, and that is the central role of teaching. One cannot impart the spark of understanding, which is inherent in the student, but one can help and guide the process by which understanding is evoked. In that sense, the teacher does not teach but the teacher guides, and he surrounds students with materials and contexts which will evoke the spark of understanding.
- Second, evocation of understanding is a process of awakening. The aim of the teacher should be to aid every student in arriving at a state of awakening, and once the student is awakened, he will begin to learn to learn, to learn the process of exploration, and the time can come when the student will read, labour and turn the pages of the books rapidly to understand and to discover what is hidden in the depth of mysteries.
- Third, interest is the key to concentrate and concentration is the key to knowledge.
- Fourth, there are two processes which must be combined, if the student is to be helped in his/her journey of mental development.
- The first process is to help the student in his/her journey of intellectual and scientific development. This will cultivate realism, and the teacher can promote realism by providing to the students direct touch with concrete objects, which can be minutely observed, analysed, and grasped with precision, Even a small child can be induced to study a flower or a leaf so that the child can observe and describe accurately the size and shape, colour and smoothness, fragrance and taste, their distinguishing marks from others, their uses in the economy and Nature; and the contribution they make to the environment and to ecological balance.
- Along with realism, pursuit of imagination and creativity should be promoted. A proper blending of realism and creative imagination can best be achieved by the careful teacher who presents the contents of study with such enrichment of scientific and artistic experience that the student gradually becomes a member at once of the concrete and creative worlds.
- Development of Faculties: Our present system of education is subject-oriented. What is important, however, for achieving excellence is the development and chiseling of faculties. Hence, while dealing with every subject, the teacher should profit from every topic and derive exercises that will contribute to the growth of faculties. Clarity of thought, precision of expression, and capacity to hold in the mind more and more complex ideas, − these aims should be pursued through every subject. There should be numerous exercises of comparison and contrast; there should be exercises for classification of facts; there should be exercises for arriving at generalization; there should be exercises for inference: deductive and inductive. There should be also exercises of analysis and synthesis. And student should be trained to consider every opinion from different points of view; there should, therefore, be the exercises of thesis, antithesis and discussion which would lead to synthesis
- Faculty-oriented education will require special training of teachers. A quest of the teachers of today, whatever their present limitations, should, their on, realize that most of the children will be best helped if they can promote faculty education among them. And once this is realized, teachers will have a vast field for content - enrichment.
- Physical Education : Our education system can be greatly improved if we lay a great emphasis on physical education. We should not be satisfied merely with elementary physical exercises, such as drill and marching, or mere asanas and pranayama. Over a period of 12 years, from class I to XII, we should have a more perfect system of physical education.
- The students should know the importance of the body; they should know how the body can be sustained in health and continuously developed through strength and agility.
- Gymnastics and athletics should be provided to every student. In villages, swimming is often available easily. Hence, swimming should be encouraged as a part of the programme of quality improvement.
Different styles of swimming should be explained, and students should be encouraged to master these different styles.
- Students should also be taught lessons in first aid, and they should be encouraged to be members of Scout and Guide Movement, NCC or NSS.
- Physical fitness should be made an indispensable qualification for promotion from one level of education to the next higher level of education. Swami Vivekananda had spoken of the need to have muscles of iron and nerves of steel. Our quality improvement programme should implement this very important recommendation of Swami Vivekanada in regard to physical education, even while paying full attention to his great message of man-making education.
- Value-oriented Education : There is one domain in the field of education, which is greatly neglected. In our programme of quality improvement, we should remedy these deficiencies. This is the domain of value-oriented education.
- There are debates and controversies as to what values we should promote. In order to surmount the difficulties, it can be said that there is unanimity in regard to the following:
- None controverts that every quest of knowledge should aim at Truth; none can controvert that everyone ought to act to promote goodness, and that goodness consists in goodwill. To will that everyone should be helped towards his/her highest fulfillment, and to develop dispositions that automatically tend towards the promotion of the highest fulfillment of all, - this is incontrovertible.
- Similarly, there should be no controversy that one should be heroic and courageous. Timidity and slavery to injustice can never be defended. To act always for the promotion of harmony and conflict — resolution are universally advocated. Culture of peace has become today one of the most important programmes of the United Nations.
- Article 51(A) of the Indian Constitution has laid down a number of Fundamental Duties. All the values which have been enumerated in this Article are, therefore, incontrovertible.
- For the purpose of quality improvement, it is necessary to create a new curriculum of value-oriented education, which should be interdisciplinary and holistic. This programme should aim at the harmonious development of human personality, which will be devoted to the pursuit of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, and to the quest of knowledge and wisdom, of the development of heroism, and of the ideal of harmony.
(13) Improvement of quality of education is largely connected with a programme of enrichment. This programme of enrichment has three aspects :
(a) First aspect is related to the enrichment of the contents of the subject that we are teaching;
(b) the the second aspect is related to develop interdisciplinity;
(c) the third aspect is related to the development of programmes and activities related to art, music, poetry, drama, film and other creative pursuits. It is also related to the development of programmes of science and technology through exploration, discoveries and inventions.
(a) The main difficulty is connected with text-books. The text-books are being often written by second-level teachers, who often happen to be scholars but not necessarily educationists. They tend to follow the beaten track, and if they attempt to innovate, their effort is limited only to the task of updating information. While updating, they are not careful to consider and effect the task of pruning what is obsolete. The text-books tend to be more and more bulky, and they stand in need of thorough assessment at the hands of educationists, who should combine both scholarship in regard to their own discipline, as also a wider view of the advances that have taken place in other disciplines. A very big task thus awaits us all in the area of revision of text- books. In this area, three important suggestions need to be considered; (i) text-books are normally set in a systematic manner which is suitable to a cogent and comprehensive exposition of the subject. Pedagogically, however, reference books are more interesting and more instructive.
But reference books are too large and they can't be used by students. The solution to this problem would be to create special teaching-learning material, which can give to the students the benefit of both text-book and reference books.This special teaching-learning material can also aim at facilitating students to study a subject in an order which departs from the order in which a text-book is written.
To take a concrete example, a normal text-book of history begins with primitive times and narrates the story in a linear manner stretching upto the present day. Pedagogically, however, most of the students find it difficult to understand the history of the primitive stages of human development, and they feel history is uninteresting and they develop distaste for the entire subject of history. Different students look for different things in history. Many students feel interested in historical biographies, but history text-books provide a scanty treatment of the lives of the makers of history. Some students will like to study the present instead of the past. They like to move in a reverse manner, from the present to the past, instead of going from the past to the present. Some others may like to study the stories of battles and conquests, others may like to study the history of literature, and some others yet would like to study the history of costumes or history of weapons. A programme of quality improvement necessitates supply of special and relevant teaching-learning material to the students in accordance with the special interest, which they may have in regard to the study of different aspects of history.
Apart from preparing fresh teaching-learning material that would incorporate material taken from the text books and material taken from reference books, there is the inevitable supplementation by the teacher, in oral form or written form, interpretative material, - material which would present pros and cons of views in a more elaborate manner or evocative manner; the teacher improves the quality when he/she can furnish copious examples, anecdotes, stories or comments from the renowned authors.
Finally, the teaching-learning material should be supplemented by additional material, which can be studied with reference to the project work, connected with the concerned topic.
14. There are four questions which should be constantly highlighted in schools and colleges on a regular basis. These questions may be regarded as relevant to every human being, irrespective of the discipline in which one wants to be specialized. In other words, these qualities are related to what may be called man-making education. These questions are not normally answered in any particular text-book, but they are extremely important and they demand constant exploration, constant questioning, constant widening, constant deepening and constant heightening of consciousness. These questions are :
- What is aim of life? What should be my aim of life? What is the place of human beings in the universe? What is my place in this universe? And what role should I play so as to attain the maximum that I can contribute to the best and highest welfare of humanity ?
- What is the best way of securing the growth and development of character and personality? How does one really learn and grow ? Is learning mere accumulation of facts? What is the relationship between the process of learning and awakening? How does one receive the accumulated lessons of history?And how can one transmit to the others the best lessons of history so as to secure the development of human Civilization ? In other words, how can I be a good student? How can I be a good parent and how can I be a good teacher ?
- What is the human body? Why is one so much dependent on the conditions of the human body? What are the ways by which I can attain to constant state of health and strength of body? What is the secret of constant health and constant youthfulness? In other words, what is the mystery of human body? What are the potentialities of human body for attaining excellent conditions and qualities of the body?
- What are the factors in human life which contribute to the upliftment of human consciousness towards higher and higher peaks of happiness and victorious fulfillment? If it is the quest of wisdom, the question is what is wisdom and how can one rise from darkness of ignorance to the wisdom of illumination?
If it is courage and the heroism, the question is as to how we can define properly courage and wisdom. What are the best examples in human history that illustrate the quality of courage and heroism? And how can one develop these qualities? It is said that the power of love and harmony that uplifts us towards higher peaks of life. If so, who are the best illustrations of this love and harmony? And how can one emulate them? Is the perfection of skill in works that uplifts us? If so, what do we exactly mean by skill, and how can one develop skills of various kinds so that the works that we perform become more and more perfect? What exactly is the meaning of perfection, and how can one grow towards the perfection?
Quality improvement can greatly be served if teachers can stimulate these questions among students and can furnish the students a wide variety of literature through which students can be helped to find out their own answers. The State machinery of education also, through institutions like GCERT and universities, should come forward to furnish to the students such literature that may help students in answering these questions.
What GCERT can do
15. What GCERT can do? GCERT should be requested to produce display materials which will highlight noble aspirations and thoughts, proverbs of wisdom and subhashitani. These display materials should also center on such topics that would stimulate exercises in observation and accurate descriptions of such things as leaves, plants, flowers, minerals, birds, animals, figures, scenes, buildings, events, etc. There should also be exhibition materials relating to simple activities like art of cleaning teeth, art of dressing, art of sitting and standing in right postures, etc. Similar material might also be collected and presented to the students that could develop the sense of wonder; examples could be taken from astronomy, from physics, from chemistry and from other sciences. Mere presentation of the idea of galaxies or expanding universe could fill the mind of the students with great amazement; presentation of the working of the human body incites in the children's mind great curiosity to understand its excellence and its mystery. Question as to what is the Matter behind what we see and what we touch could also be a subject that would produce a great sense of wonder. The examples such as those of caterpillars becoming a butterfly and other examples of mutation could create in the minds of children great interest in biology and theory of evolution. We could also create exhibition materials in respect of senses of knowledge and senses of action, and we can introduce subjects like inner senses and capacities to see the invisible and to hear the inaudible. GCERT should also collect beautiful artistic photographs and paintings and it can distribute their reproductions all over the State under a massive programme of enhancing and developing aesthetic sense. Albums of music can also be prepared so as to enable teachers to use them as means of encouraging the learning of music or appreciation of music. We may recall that Rabindranath Tagore had written 2000 songs for educational purpose and he had himself composed music for the same. A selection from these songs and their music should be made available in every school of the State.
16. It is needless to add that the quality of education depends upon the quality of the teacher education, and at the minimum level, it would suffice to say that the aim of quality improvement of the teacher education should be to create new types of teachers who can understand and practise three instruments of teaching properly and adequately, namely, instruction, example and influence. The teacher should be able to provide learning experience to the learner and aim at intensifying curiosity and sense of wonder in the learner.
Many other innovations are needed, but these innovations may imply radical changes, which are to be dealt with separately