Learning without Memorising
Sitting at the back of the classroom for hours, listening to endless lectures by a schoolteacher is perhaps a memory we all have. Those History and Geography classes filled with lectures and broad questions do not form the best part of everyone's school life. With the passage of time comes new ways of living and new methods of teaching. Into the 21st century, more aspects of general life are used in teaching, such as the Internet. Unfortunately, only a handful of teachers are encouraged to adapt to practical teaching methods on the World Wide Web. Most students in Bangladesh have tomemorise endless chapters before they can sit for a test. Often they forget most of what they have learnt after the exam is over.
The teaching and learning philosophy of University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) seeks to break the convention of memorising before examinations. CIE focuses on teaching methods that are demonstrated through everyday aspects, and requires participation of students, rather than have them doze off at the back of class.
"Our main focus is beyond just exams, the idea is to introduce more realistic methods of learning from primary level and build a solid foundation which does not rely upon memorising only. Our curriculum puts stress on participation, project work and creativity, extending greater opportunities for our students," says Mark Bartholomew, CIE's Regional Director.
Mark's geographical area covers India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan, regions for which his previous experience has equipped him well. "This suits me down to the ground," continues Mark. "I have a long history of involvement in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka through various posts at the British Council offices in Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh, and Colombo and Kandy in Sri Lanka."
Reputed all over the Europe, the world's largest provider of international qualifications and assessments has become a success in the Asian region as well. CIE's philosophy of education and style of teaching has many beneficial effects in this region. The recent introduction of CIE's Teacher Support Site offers assistance with teaching materials and methods of teaching, as well as encouraging regular practical use of the Internet. CIE has built an international standard of teaching alongside examinations.
"We have seen extraordinary O Level results from Bangladeshi students, but at the same time, at A Level, most of their grades seem to drop. This is simply because
A Level examinations are not based upon what you have memorised, but the basic knowledge and practical and creative observation," Mark points out.
The importance of this style of teaching and learning methodologies is on the increase with each passing day.
Mark enjoys his frequent visits to Bangladesh. He has observed the people and schools very closely and is able to recognise the needs of Bangladeshi schools. He explained the difficulty of starting the Teachers Support Site, and expressed his joy at the success of the website resource. Teachers from various schools including Oxford International School and Chittagong Grammar School, both CIE Centres, are actively using material and resources from the site.
"One of the best features of the support site is that it breaks international boundaries and brings teachers together to share their ideas, no matter where they are in the world," adds Mark. The site not only provides worksheets and video clips for teachers, but they are able to communicate with other teachers to exchange their ideas on different teaching methods. In addition, updated workshops and teacher training programmes have certainly added to the improvement in the teaching systems at the schools.
CIE has also introduced the new Cambridge International Primary Programme for children from 5 to 11 years of age. The programme consists of various integrated components such as a framework curriculum, progression tests, and provides teaching resources for primary teachers.
"As India is advancing towards globalisation, the need of the hour is that our children learn the true spirit of internationalism: globalisation. In essence: think global, act local," says Vandana Lulla, director of Podar International School, a school which follows the Cambridge International Primary Programme. The curriculum helps children begin to learn from an early age and builds a solid foundation for their higher-level exams. More schools in Bangladesh will be adopting this curriculum soon.
What is unique about CIE is that it provides opportunities that suit each individual country's needs, and does it well. For Bangladesh we hope to see a stronger foundation for our students and therefore brighter futures, thanks to CIE.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005