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    Volume 9 Issue 14| April 2, 2010|

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For a Better Classroom Experience

Elita Karim

Teachers design out their course outline for all the classes based on the curriculum drawn out by the UK government. Photo: Elita Karim

The fourth grade children, at a government primary school located in South Derbyshire, United Kingdom, are seen playing a strange game outside their classroom. All wrapped up in their colourful coats and jumpers, the children are holding on to pieces of papers with numbers written on them. Each child is looking for their 'number partners', based on the numbers they are holding. “They are learning multiplication,” says the teacher, much to the surprise of the visitors from South Asia. Each child has to look for their fellow multiples and factors, based on what number they have been given by their teacher. “The children love this game,” adds the teacher. “It helps to shake them up a bit early in the morning and get their time tables polished up as well.”

Very recently, several head teachers and representatives of the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh were flown to the United Kingdom to attend workshops on education, how to develop the local curriculum and how to train teachers along with students, to make the education sector in the country stronger and more complete. This was part of the British Council project, Connecting Classrooms. A global programme, Connecting Classrooms creates partnerships between clusters of schools in the United Kingdom and other countries around the world. Through this project, young people are introduced to an international dimension of learning, thereby improving their knowledge and understanding other cultures to prepare them for life and work as global citizens. The workshops also included teachers and officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and different parts of the United Kingdom. Part of the programme also included visits to different government-run schools to observe their methods of teaching and how the curriculum is applied.

At one of the workshops, a short video was shown where students from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan shared their inputs with the policy makers and teachers from these countries. Besides the opportunity to make new friends, most children in the video exclaimed that they liked school because they sometimes get an opportunity to express themselves at the cultural programmes held on particular occasions. The students also spoke about the debate programmes held at school which allowed them to speak their minds and work on current issues both national and international. Univocally, however, the students stressed on the fact that the government must change the grading system in schools and other public educational institutions. One Bangladeshi youngster even appealed to the policy makers to introduce subjects like sports, music, cooking, arts and crafts, painting, self defence, learning an instrument, foreign language and much more to government schools. Even though these are a part of after-school activities in some institutions, unless these subjects are not made a part of the national curriculum, these subjects would not be given the importance that they deserve, not to mention the failure to develop these skills in children within an academic environment..

The schools are clear and organised about specialised courses and unconventional subjects like carpentry, cooking, gym, dance, art and the like. Photo: Elita Karim

The South Asian visitors came across plenty of elements and methods of teaching at the schools, which were simple, yet innovative and interactive. For instance, the schools do not follow particular text books as such. Teachers design out their course outline for all the classes based on the curriculum drawn out by the United Kingdom government. In one school, second grade children were being taught articles, openers, connectives and much more in the English language with the help of short educational animated programmes on the projector. The programmes, which included talking animals carrying out conversations in English, appealed a whole lot to the young audience in the classroom. In yet another class, students were grouped in fours and fives. While one group was working on their school project on the school computers, the other groups would get help from their teacher or move into the library section for some more references. In the slightly older classes, say sixth or the seventh grade classes, the children are made to take weekly cooking classes and carpentry classes on a regular basis, whether the student is a boy or a girl. In a nutshell, the schools are quite clear and organised with regards to their course outlines and ways to involve the children, not only in the specialised courses but also in the unconventional subjects like wood classes, cooking, gym, dance, art and the like.

Even though we proudly showcase our brilliant students who score a full GPA score in their secondary and higher secondary examinations, it leaves one to wonder as to how many of them can actually grow up to becoming the successful doctors, engineers, professors and businesspeople. Instead, students should be allowed to choose to opt for skill development training in certain areas such as textile, weaving, plumbing, designing, writing etc.

Celebrating the Independence Day this year, the Daily Star brought out a special supplement on education where thinkers, experts and educators spoke about ways to develop the particular sector introduction of new colleges and universities, developing better policies, developing a common curriculum, building new strategies for teacher training programmes and much more. Along with all the suggestions made by the experts, an extra effort should be made to develop in-class techniques to make both teaching and learning an enjoyable experience inside the classroom.



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