It’s not just the stress of exams for the kids, it’s also the stress of going back to school


For a very long time, we took a break from education. It’s time to reset the learning. The way to achieve this is to ensure that all parents send their children to school.

There are too many headlines telling us that education is catastrophically broken because children have become addicted to their screens. How can we solve this problem? The rhetoric of rupture and crisis does not help. It prevents dialogue and reflection in favor of quick solutions. Systems need to be put in place, where we can find a variety of methods to equip all learners, privileged, poor, middle class and alternatively able. A child should always be a priority and not an afterthought.

The stress is not the exams, it is the return to school. This created a challenge both in the minds of parents and children. Elementary students in grades one through eight are excited about returning to school. However, senior students find it extremely tedious and are not ready to comply with morning schedules, uniforms, timetables, teacher authority. Maybe there is even a feeling of insecurity in coming out of a cocoon.

READ ALSO | Board exams may be a nightmare for you, but they’re not going anywhere soon

Exams are not a threat, in fact, assessment over the past three years whether online or offline has been proven to be child centered to the point of being unrealistic at all levels. What schools need to emphasize is deep personalized learning and getting children back into the fold.

Redesigning classrooms for imaginative kids

We all inherited a planet but unlike other creatures we create our own learning, we create cities, civilizations, art, music, literature, in other words, the whole world that we inhabit.

The big change is to look at imagination, the more imaginative children become, the more creative they will be. Imagination was affected during online learning. Parents and teachers need to focus on this new model. We really need to look at the learning commons in a very different way. Learning should not be subject or exam oriented. We need to focus on a continuum that encompasses the emotional, social, and adversarial quotient.

Fine motor skills continued to develop as a result of many activities carried out at home through games, art, puzzles, etc. However, the problem is the slow development of gross motor skills. Young children struggle with basic movements like walking confidently, easily climbing on play equipment, using stairs, and a host of other practices that are integral to early childhood. Writing, reading and other reflective practices that require concentration and time were also affected.

Teachers have to work a lot on concentration and remediation. We must develop generosity to share resources, build communities of practice and develop design thinking. This new mutuality will help create a culture of personal commitment among children.

In order to create a holistic classroom transaction and reduce learning gaps, we need to focus on each child. This envisions integrating knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and transformative skills into the curriculum – and reorienting education from achieving “academic excellence” to “fulfilment for the life”. To ensure that our children are adaptable, confident and resilient in the face of change and challenges.

Schools need to open their classrooms to all of these factors. We need to invest in redesigning classrooms, maintaining a low teacher-child ratio, profiling children independently to understand their learning levels and challenges, and putting technology-based systems in place to support these concepts in the real-time schooling.

An opportunity to reset learning

We continue to speak of parents as independent entities that are not part of the school ecology. We need to create systems where parents, teachers and students take ownership and support each other by giving more freedom. Sharing of resources and tools, moving from modes of inspection to those of empowerment and support, so that everyone becomes aware of the importance of schooling.

Parents should ensure their children return to schools of opportunity where play, art, music, sports, drama, activities and projects bring joy back to learning. Particularly in the foundation, primary, pre-primary and middle years where the curriculum should be 80% kinesthetic.

READ ALSO | Board exams should be permanently scrapped. It’s the only way to fix an exam-obsessed education system.

When children return to school, teaching should be integrated with emotional and social learning, which will create a psychological safety net, increase reflective conversations, encourage expression, diverse opinions and minds in questioning. We must educate children so they can advance core values, culture, and learning through empathetic and adaptive offline school audits, which must be done with empathy and care.

We had an amazing opportunity to reset learning. No student would want an adult to reinvent their future. Educators must confront the present.

Technology has become a new toy for the world, all the more so in the wake of the pandemic. The question is whether it creates learning or simply simplifies or amplifies our abilities. The best we can do is rethink our own lives and create space for our children. In order to improve 21st century economies, we need to dive into the learning gene pools of our identities and communities so that we can square the circle.

Dr. Ameeta Mulla Wattal is President and Executive Director, Education, Innovations and Training of DLF Foundation Schools and Fellowship Programs. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.

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