SRABONTI NARMEEN ALI
old school definition of education in our country was simple:
learn it, or fail. The end result was probably a more disciplined
generation, but what about the children who just cannot not
learn? For those children who need extra attention, or who cannot
pick things up by just reading books and listening to lectures,
"learn it or fail," is just not feasible. Although
issues such as these are not as widely recognised in Bangladesh
for a variety of reasons -- the primary one being that education
is still not a universal phenomenon and the literacy rate is
still extremely low -- steps are being taken slowly to ensure
that all children are able to comprehend and adapt to what they
are learning at schools. Such an initiative was taken by the
British Council during the last week of January when they invited
educationist Steve Masure to work with the children of four
different schools in Dhaka city.
of the Floating Point Science Theatre, Steve Masure has dedicated
fifteen years to improving children's comprehension of science
all over the world. To date, he has worked with over 7000 schools.
His teaching methods and techniques developed by his team at
the Floating Point Science Theatre are used in a number of different
schools, including the four schools that he worked with in Dhaka.
one week we explored different teaching and learning techniques
and their effects on the students" says Masure. "At
the end we linked it all together and the students worked hard
on putting together a play."
play, held at the British Council Auditorium on January 30th
, featured all the students from the four different schools.
They chose to focus on environmental science as the theme for
their play, which was titled "Save Our World," or
Amader Prithibi Bachao. Students enacted the roles of elements
of nature, such as trees, rivers and soil, to show how human
beings pollute the environment, and how it affected the world.
In one scene, students acted as trees and talked about how humans
cut them down, therefore harming themselves and their own environment
by killing plants that take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen.
They also likened pollution to evil witches. They gave clear
and concise explanations on the rules of science in a way which
is easily comprehensible to children. The play culminated with
a song and dance by all the children.
idea is to combine science and theatre, which happens to be
my two passions," says Masure. "I want to make science
fun -- make learning in general fun. Floating Point Science
Theatre works towards showing science in visuals, pictures,
etc…by using mimes and theatre. Since we do not use tools and
equipment, it is even better for the children because they have
to use their imagination to take into account all the different
properties, therefore having to learn properly, instead of just
memorising. Science is always learned in a certain context.
A story gives things character, makes it more real. Emotional
content also makes it real for children and students to make
science accessible for the human mind."
how they felt about the "different" technique of learning,
the students' responses were positive.
learned much more and understood everything much better with
the science theatre technique," says a student. “It was
more interesting. It was a system that made it more real. It
may not always be possible, but we should try to incorporate
it in our regular classes and educational system."
it may always not be possible, as the student admitted, this
simple wish should be taken into account by the education system
of Bangladesh. Better educational techniques and facilities
mean a brighter future for the younger minds of today.
It is easy
for some people to learn to memorise certain formulas and theories
when dealing with science, but is that enough? Even more importantly,
is that what education should be based on? Learning by memorising
without fully comprehending the meaning is never enough. The
importance of education lies in the fact that students must
understand what they are learning. Together, Steve Masure and
the British Council are taking steps towards a more child friendly
educational system in Bangladesh. They are planning on giving
teachers in different schools in Bangladesh lessons on how to
make learning "fun and more accessible" for students,
therefore providing Bangladesh with happier students who go
to school wanting to learn.