Chalk and Talk Should Be a Combined Methodology in Every Level of Education - A.Y.Asundi

1. Tell us more about your experience as an educator.

I entered teaching after 25 years in practice and did teaching and research for another 25 years. I found it is very helpful to teach the subject as you have first-hand knowledge of professional experience.  It can be compared to the medical Profession,  where the clinical practice helps to learn the cases. You can use them as analogies in teaching.

The student input is very much mixed and heterogeneous – rural, urban, medium of education, family background, and social strata and so on. The educator cannot treat all of them on the same wavelength in the assimilation of lectures.

So a teacher should identify different groups – slow learners, perceptions and so on and the teacher should do counselling and build their confidence by giving them simple assignments. During the practical examination designed question papers in such a way that a student who has difficulties in learning would get marks also.

There should be a collaborative learning attitude. Make groups of students with slow learners and fast learner to build self-learning attitude. Students would be more comfortable with their fellow friends than interacting with teachers. I was using this during practical classes, give them an assignment and solve them in the groups to enhance group learning.

We find this in many universities in the US where the library provides “Learning Space” called information commons. The library should be turned into a learning space rather than only reading and referencing.

2. What is your opinion of the Indian education system and how would you like to change that?

Primary education is highly diluted. There is a need for dedicated teachers. Basic education should be combined with vocations. My village school had better curriculum than urban areas. My village schools would be teaching spinning, weaving, carpentry, horticulture and other common trades and vocations like beekeeping, poultry etc.

Every school in those days had a craft teacher, Drawing teacher, Physical education teacher. My high school had good laboratories with models in biography, geography and mathematics. and three-dimension charts etc. No calculators only memorise tables till 30 digits.

The Primary education up to 8th standard as per new education policy (5+3+3+4) should be the responsibility of government, that will prevent commercialization of education to some extent.

Bright students were made to appear for scholarship examination at the end of 4th Standard and then again at the end of 7th Standard at the district level. In schools, there were good libraries and also classroom libraries. Students were given the responsibility to manage the classroom library.

From the school to college – joining Scouts and Guides, or Auxiliary Cadet Corps (ACC), and in Colleges, National Cadet Corps (NCC). Now they have been almost stopped. You would learn team building, and also get encouragement to join armed forces and feel highly disciplined in your entire life.

3. What changes in the teaching methodologies have you seen in recent times?

Teachers should be innovative in devising new teaching methodologies depending on the local situation and conditions. Chalk and Talk should be combined methodology in every level of education.

Most teachers use PPT in teaching and many of them are downloaded from Web and even preparing ppt should be given a tutorial to the teachers as they load the ppt with lots of descriptive accounts.

The bulleted topics, in brief, should be presented and the teacher should describe and discuss orally. The number of PPTs per class should be restricted to 15-20 maximum so that more time can be spent on discussion and narration.

After every 15 minutes, the teacher should get feedback, by asking questions whether the content of the subject was clear or not. Use audio-visual presentations from YouTube and other education portals. Use open educational resources combined with such presentations.

If possible the teacher and students can make such presentations as a classroom assignment. Use of Educational technologies should be combined with traditional methods of teaching which will benefit both students as well as teachers.

4. How does education help one do well in their career?

Excepting the professional education, the career choice among others is not choice-based, it depends on time. The main object of our education is to get a good job. The new education policy 2020 to a great extent seems to change this as the research attitude is built from the graduate level.

To alleviate students’ interest to a particular career path there is need for visualizing the interest of learners from the childhood and guide them in that direction. The films like  “Tare Zameen Par” and 3 Idiots serve as good examples.

The professionally qualified people should be encouraged to enter the administrative career and before that, they should be extensively exposed to the social milieu of our country.

Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of  “Gram Swarajya should become our slogan. We realised this now with the onset of COVID – 19 where there is reverse migration of people back to villages in search of livelihood as openings in cities have been totally shut down.

India was and will remain agriculture-based country due to exclusive food habits of its population, no country in the world has this situation. To feed billions of our people we need to depend on agricultural produce and so we must encourage educated young also to seek a career in agriculture and food processing industries.

5. Do you think teaching as a profession is viewed at par with corporate jobs?

No. Corporate culture is a capitalist view.  How many corporate organizations have realized their social responsibility? As it should be one of their motto and mission in spirit and in exercise. Whereas the teaching profession has been rested with total social responsibility.

In olden days the royals would go to Gurukula to learn the nuances of their responsibilities of their people and teachers had very high regard in the society and that culture has to be revived.

Why corporate people, even bureaucrats seek ‘back to school’ to learn the new things and again it is the teaching profession at the helm. The teaching profession cannot be equated to a corporate job, it is above, though may not in terms of perks, but by dignity and status.

Education should not be viewed from a corporate angle, as education is not a profit-making venture even though a lot of commercialisation of education is done today. From all these inferences education and teaching profession cannot be viewed on par with corporate.

6. How can we adopt technology to make teaching more effective?

Many teachers have become addicted to technology as an alternative to direct one to one teaching.  Technology should only be used as supplementing the classroom teaching and also its use should be minimized due to its perceived ill effects on learners health in many respects.

Educational technology has many advantages over the Chalk and Talk teaching. Teaching per se cannot be only via technology. In a country like India diffusion of technology has not been horizontally uniform as still, its stability is questionable as recent efforts of online learning has shown nearly 40% learners lack adequate facilities and the remaining are also not fully satisfied as intermittent hick-ups are also experienced by them.

India is a very vast and divert nation by many variables with complex socio, cultural and economic differences. So technology all together cannot mend them fully, so adoption of technology should be gradual and be periodically evaluated from learners rather than the delivery.

7. Why does India need more educators like you?

India respects teachers as “Guru” above all the three top deities.  So all the teachers should imbibe the verse of this spirit of “Guru: as parabrahma. The “Bhruhaspti” is regarded as “Guru” by all the Gods and therefore we need educators with devotion to teaching, learning and self-actualisation of the meaning of giver rather than a taker.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam would often say that we must derive pleasure in giving rather than taking. As a teacher may memento are my students and they are my awards and rewards. Even today I respect my teachers by whose teachings I have prospered in my career and reciprocally my students have expressed similar feelings about me.

So I feel that every educator should also enjoy this feeling and that would be my view and those are the teachers of my liking. I would often quote Dr G.P.Rajaratnam, a Kannada littérateur who was also an excellent teacher.

He would prescribe three qualities of a teacher – your head should be filled with tonnes of ideas to deliver them to learners, the teacher should destroy his class notes immediately leaving the class, and the third one to clean the blackboard before leaving the classroom.

In my opinion, all educators should be life long learners and should imbibe the Rigveda saying “Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides”

Interview By - Benil Joseph

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