27 November 2009

School based curriculum development

Traditionally, all over the world, schools rely on textbook publishers to achieve syllabus requirements. Hence, the greatest responsibility of delivering quality education vests with textbook publishers.

Even in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, some school curricula did not last long because they were not adaptable in classrooms or they were not based on sound principles of child psychology. One classic example would be the once popular mathematics teaching software package LOGO.  Many of our K-12 textbooks in India contain lesson materials which can make both the teacher and the taught dislike the subject.  This problem is not confined to India.  In the late '80s I have came across a Cambridge OSC (Present IGCSE) Physics textbook written by a British writer and published by a British company that contained numerous conceptual and grammatical mistakes.  Things can improve if publishers give importance to what is written and not who writes the book.  Editors have a crucial role to play to see that textbooks are in excellent shape.

I have worked on very effective lesson materials in school systems run by PREPARE, a Chennai based NGO that runs schools in remote areas of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. I was part of a wonderful team that could empathise with children, teachers and the community at large. (It was possible, because its founder couple Dr Jacob D Raj and Dr Daisy Dharmaraj consistently focused on quality education backed by effective monitoring systems).  Teachers in these schools, who mostly came from local communities, did not have Master's degrees. Some of them did not have B Ed degrees. (However there were provisions to  recruit non B Ed qualified teachers according to Board rules and regulations in exceptional situations like these schools in remote areas).  Though these teachers were not highly qualified they had the ability to communicate to children children in simple and effective ways. This was more important than mere degrees. We developed lesson materials from scratch, and they were proven to be very child friendly.    

We can develop effective curricula and textbooks only by involving practising teachers who can empathise, innovate and try to let children's interest sustain far beyond the 40 minute period.  This applies to digital media contents as well.

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.