Dr M Kasturi, Principal, Birla Balika Vidyapeeth Pilani, speaks to Amita Jain on strategies to deal with slow learners and other challenges of the school education system...
Q. Your thoughts on the need to change traditional teaching mode in schools.
A. With technological advancement where so much of information is available for students and teachers, the scenario of regular teaching mode in schools is changing towards a more interactive mode. Smart boards are replacing conventional blackboards in classrooms, online activities are becoming a part of teaching and students are actively engaging themselves in learning process through online portals where teachers and peers are available even beyond the walls of the classroom. Over the years, we have moved to increased use of AV and educational software, controlled edu-tabs with wi-fi, project-based learning, panel and group discussions, motivation through rewards or special recognition and exchange program with other schools at national and international levels to make our mode of teaching more interactive and interesting.
Q. How can our school education system deal with slow learners and low scorers?
A. When one looks at the psychology of slow learners, majority of them feel stressed to concentrate on a particular subject for an hour or so. The problem becomes grave when teachers don’t make an effort on interacting with them. Identifying the individual and figuring out what makes him/her less interested in learning should be the priority in such cases. We have Special Educators and Counsellors to deal with the slow learners and those who don’t score well. They identify their individual needs and try to dig to the root cause, that is, if it is due to emotional stress, or they are overburdened, or teaching methodology needs to be improved etc. These children are given counselling to improve their study habits, attention, understanding etc. Remedial classes with changed teaching methods, focussing more on visuals can help. Teachers of remedial classes are instructed to be more patient with these children.
Q. Choice of subjects defines one’s future. How does your school guide students on this?
A. Pressure from parents is of foremost concern. Most parents want their wards to be a doctor or an engineer and force their wards to take PCM/B subject combination. Peer pressure is another influencing factor. This is where schools have to play an important role. Every stream is good on its own, depending on one’s abilities and aptitude. We conduct simple tests to make students realise their potential, counsel students as well as parents keeping in mind their ambition and tell them about the scopes of different streams.
Q. What about teachers training?
A. It is mandatory for all teachers to attend at least four teacher training programs per year. We also conduct annual conference on “Progressive Teaching Methodologies” as a part of annual Faculty Development Program which is mandatory for all teaching staff, including school principals. Our teachers also attend CBSE Faculty Development Program where department heads act as CBSE resource persons. Each department has its own club activities and each club organizes guest lectures, workshops, national-level seminars which help teachers keep abreast of new developments.
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