In March of 2018 NCERT invited suggestions for reducing the burden of school curriculum. I was thrilled by the initiative and proceeded to give my inputs. My enthusiasm soon deflated as I found out it was asking for specific information on chapters to cut down on quantity. I wondered isn’t the burden because of pressures and expectations around it. Will reducing the quantity reduce the ruthless competition? Will reducing the quantity of course alone strengthen our children and increase their resilience in these challenging times?
I had written a document on how I thought the burden on students can be reduced at that time as a response but couldn’t upload it as there was no means of doing it. Today I share that with larger community in hope that some of us will take note and a new movement will be born. Reading through it becomes self evident that quantity of curriculum didn’t even enter my mind.
Subconscious Programming: How we communicate with our students, words we use have a very strong effect. Through the interactions they have children are programmed subconsciously to believe certain things which in turn influences the behaviour. The way we pay attention to behavior increase or decrease the likelihood of it happening again. There are subtle ways in which we could be mounting pressure over our children without realizing it. Read 5 Ways Parents Unknowingly Increase Academic Stress.
Education for life: The philosophy developed by J. Donald Walter which forms the basis for Living Wisdom Schools. It divides the developement phases and tells us what needs to be focused when and why. Overt pressure on intellect in the first 6-7 years can be counterproductive. For those who are interested there is a book by the same name is a good read and would immensely help in easing the current education scenario if applied.
Mindfulness has been shown to be very effective in various studies in combating stress and increasing performance. A pilot study in India on 11th class students of Govt. school showed improvement in attention and prosocial behavior while significantly reducing disruptive behaviour. Contrary to the beliefs students welcomed the intervention and actively participated in it. We would do well to replicate the study in more schools and different grades. Introduction of Happiness curriculum by Delhi Government can be considered an initiative on similar lines.
Prayer and Intenton: Starting a class with a prayer sets the tone and intention for the class which can help kids be more attentive. For e.g. The teacher can say I evoke the blessings of almighty and your co-operation for the learning and new understanding this lesson brings to us. May I do justice to it and let us all pray together that all of us are enriched with this interaction. This also shifts the focus to the process of learning and not just end result(marks).
Energy and will power: We need tools to be able to direct our energy and increase will power. With more energy and will power kids will perform better and not feel the burden so much. Yoga is a tool for that. Another excellent tool is “Energization Exercises”, a set of exercises given by saint Paramhansa Yogananda for increasing the will power and energy.
Emotional valence: Information becomes knowing if emotional valence is attached to it. For example instead of saying save water, explaining that there are more and more homes which do not receive water like your house helps. If possible make them observe how their house help stands in line for water. If we all save water, this situation can be reversed. You play a pioneer role in this. This will make them more sensitive. It makes learning fun and also increases the retention of the concept thus taught. It can be done with all class subjects so that they don’t feel like burdens anymore. Waldorf Schools have an interesting way of doing this.
Honouring the Process: To shift the focus from heavy emphasis on marks to the process of learning and gaining knowledge. The process should be rewarded and not just the end results. Chandrayaan 2 mission is an excellent example in this regard.
Career Counseling: It has become essential to choose a befitting career for greater success. With multitude of options available career counseling is gaining importance. Students should be provided this facility especially 9th , 10th, 11th and 12th class. They should be made aware that there are many choices and world doesn’t end with 10th or 12th marks sheet. Government is already taking measures in this regard. There are also platforms like CareerGuide and MyskillsRepublic among others which offer these services.