28 October 2012

Textbook turbulence

As part of my work as Curriculum Specialist, I had to look at the contents of a few textbooks published by the NCERT yesterday.

As many education professionals would know, NCERT textbook contents need to raise well above their current quality levels including in their use of English language.  For example, Chapter 8 of NCERT's Political Science textbook for Class 8 explains about the need to provide basic amenities to  all people, using case studies. This chapter is titled `Public Facilities'.

Screenshot of Chapter 9 of NCERT Political Science textbook for Class 8
I think that `Basic Amenities' or `Common Amenities' would be a better term for the title of this chapter.  I think that any textbook writing should involve the most appropriate use of language.

Chapter 8 entitled `DEVOTIONAL PATH TO THE DEVINE' in the History textbook prescribed for Standard 7 mentions about Adwaitaa and Visishtaadwaitaa schools of Hinduism but doesn't, about  the Dwaitaa school.

Excerpt from NCERT History textbook for Std 7

However, when we consider the quality of photographs and diagrams in general, NCERT textbooks seem to be pupil friendly. I wish that the same goes with textual contents as well.

(When I worked in the editorial division of Macmillan India Limited a few years back, there was a very good textbook series entitled `Exploring Science', meant for Primary classes. The only problem with the books was that they were expensive. When I was asked to suggest cost cutting measures, one of the ideas which I gave was to use a lower quality paper similar to the one used in NCERT textbooks and bring the cost down. But my suggestion was ignored by the then GM Publishing at the Country Office in Bangalore, as it was `not practical'. Hope that the lady knows about NCERT text books and how they are very affordable). 

25 October 2012

World Teachers' Day 2012

In spite of rapid advances in technology in general and educational technology in  particular, it is obvious that teachers' role will continue to be crucial in our classrooms (and beyond).

In my pressure of work, I  had completely forgotten to remember World Teachers' Day which was celebrated on 5 October this year too. 

Let me share a short informative video developed by the global NGO Teachers Without Borders with you this time. Hope you like it.   

23 October 2012

Immensely Spiritual Internet Radio

This afternoon after lunch as I was browsing through my favourite Madhwa websites, I came across an immensely spiritual Internet Radio Station maintained by Uttaradi Math. Let me share the joy of listening to this great round the clock resource, with pranaams to our Swamiji and his dedicated team at the Math.

07 October 2012

Demo classes on digital demand

It is quite natural that our sparetime interests change as we grow older. It is several years since I listened to softrock music, got into a weekend outing or engaged in DXing with passion. These favourite pastimes have given way to more intellectually stimulating activities of which browsing the academic net is one.

As all dedicated teachers would know, teaching is one of the most rewarding professions if we continue doing our work considering each school period as a `new' one with possible classroom problems and prepare our lessons and teaching methods in the most student friendly manner. I thank God for having blessed me with years of experience such that my students and teacher colleagues liked the way in which I taught (using a range of resources from textbooks and simple locally available materials to digital technology).

South African website and an MIT website which I browsed a few minutes back took me back by a few years, including 2006, when I used to teach `Momentum' using simple toys to my Class 9 students in a large city school (of which I was the Principal). As you can see, the first one is a revision material (with just 27 minutes running time which is not adequate to include experiments and activities) and the second one, a demo lesson taught by Prof Walter Lewin.       

The videos made me  remember also as to how my mobile phone camera had been very useful in recording simple student friendly processes and activities related to lesson concepts (sometimes shot by students themselves) for use in my classes.

(It is amazing to experience the advantages of digital technology today. We have come a long way from VHS videotapes, 16mm films and audiocassette tapes in our classrooms).

I think that our corporate organisations should strive to partner with government departments of education so that all children can access such quality oriented digital lesson materials to support what children learn in their classrooms.

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.