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October 04, 2019 Friday 09:46:10 AM IST

Teaching in The Time of AI

Rajagiri Round Table

India's education system has come a long way since the Gurukula system of learning that provided undivided attention of the teacher for each student. The Pallikkutam system, considered more inclusive, reportedly gave opportunities for children from all strata of society to learn. The present organized system of education is a legacy of the British rule in which the teacher is just a stakeholder helping students understand what is provided in text books and enables them to write examinations. The onslaught of new technologies such as the internet, world wide web, smart classrooms, mobile apps has put tremendous pressure on teachers to adapt and become more of a facilitator and catalyst in learning. The Draft New Education Policy (NEP),2019, also underscores the importance of improving teacher training courses in tune with the changing times.

September is the month we pay tribute to teachers by celebrating the Teachers Day. Hence, it was appropriate for the 52nd Rajagiri Round Table held at St Joseph College of Teacher Education for Women, Ernakulam to discuss ‘Changing Role of Teacher as a Catalyst, Facilitator’,  focusing on the new role of the teacher in a rapidly changing social and technological milieu and to look at the changes required to make their job more relevant to the times. The subject experts were Ms.KrishnaMani, teacher trainer; Mr.Nelson Diaz, Neuro Linguistics Programme (NLP) trainer, Mr.JayanMalil, former Co-ordinator,IT@School and Ms. Suma Paul, Computer Science Teacher at Rajagiri Public School. The session was moderated by Sreekumar Raghavan, Editor-Eduportal, Pallikkutam.

The role of the teacher

The role of the teacher at all times was to ensure a holistic development of the child and it will continue to be so. Their role has not changed despite the technological innovations or changes happening in society. The teacher has to be a facilitator, mentor, observer, supervisor and it is one of the noblest professions; he/shemust be able to face challenges of life, have a solution-oriented attitude, has to deal with stress and crisis. The role of the teacher is not just to impart knowledge or information but to motivate, inspire, make them explore, interact, communicate and uplift society.


KrishnaMani: "The Teacher is not the torch-bearer but the torch. Irrespective of the education system we follow, the teacher is the one who brings the child from darkness to light. A teacher should be a jack of all trades and also a master of all. Education is the bridge to enlightenment"

Importance of technology in learning

Concerns were raised about the use of technology in classrooms and whether teachers were handing over their responsibility to power point presentations (PPT) and other tools. However, there was general consensus that the new age teacher needs to integrate technology in the teaching process to make the topics interesting and interactive. As per the new education policy, adaptive assessment has been included in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) learning and there is integration of different subjects.  Accordingly, tablets will be given to students and their attendance will be marked on it. Instead of students taking a test at the end of the year in a ‘one size-fits all’ approach, there will be continuous assessment tailor-made for each student, based on their achievement levels and this is known as adaptive assessment which helps improve the student's performance.

However, there was a feeling that too much dependence on technology just for the sake of it wouldn’t serve any purpose. Technology is only an enabler and should only be augmented to make learning interesting, to make students come up with interesting ideas. Kerala has set a model for other States in ICT implementation through Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE), formerly IT@School, which has developed need-based technology to cater to the needs of students and even has e-resources that enable students up to level of 12thstandard to learn(https://samagra.kite.kerala.gov.in).


For teachers overloaded with classes and administrative work, technology tools should take away the strain of teaching and help them.  However, even apps  such as TiKTokcan be creatively used in education as it is enabling children to express their talent and hence there is no reason to be worried about it.

Suma Paul: “We should redefine Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy in B.Ed training to include a fourth domain known as ‘Technology Domain’; the other three being Cognitive (content), Affective (values) and Psychomotor (skill development).Teacher students should be given projects, case studies which make use of the technologies. They should make use of the projects that use the various technologies such as videos, vodcasts, webinars as well as enrolment in online courses to keep themselves uptodate; massive open online course(MOOC).”

Dr. Job Kuruvila, academician: "It is much cheaper to use cognitive tools than technology tools in learning, considering the financial situation and resources of many schools in India. I suggest reversed Bloom's Taxonomy and 50% of the classes should be held without power point presentations (PPT).”

JayanMalil: "Information Communication Technology (ICT) can be effectively used to teach any subject. Technological advances should enable teachers to bring an individual to a level of attaining comprehensive knowledge. The education policy of Indian Government may create a digital divide as big corporates are implementing technology innovations in schools. They may have interest in promoting their proprietary programmes and systems. It may push the nation to further poverty."


Swapna J Nair, Master Trainer Co-ordinator, Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE), Ernakulam: In KITE, we are trying to build a system whereby different learning needs of students from different schools are addressed through technology. For example, we have a school in Eloor in Ernakulam where students from other States are studying and their major need is to learn Malayalam. In my school days, history was taught by teachers by just reading from text books and I hated the subject. Now we are trying to use technology to make learning of social sciences interesting. If I studied in today’s scenario, learning history would have been much interesting.”

Cognitive and problem-solving skills

Todays’ school students get information and knowledge from a variety of sources but they seem to lack logical thinking. Teachers should follow a teaching plan outlining the objectives of each class or topic that is taken and the expected outcome from the students.  How can different learning activities be included by the teachers to ensure cognitive development? Our teachers should be able to unleash the power of the mind which has unlimited potential to expand.The teacher should have ideation sessions for each class. Students can discuss various issues such as ways to deal with climate change, lifestyle diseases, use of chemicals, colours in food, methods to save the environment and so on.

Nelson Diaz: ”Teachers have to understand the learning pattern of students. Some students are kinesthetic (experiential type), others visually oriented and still others auditory. Can we incorporate all these learning patterns together in our system and give that to students so that they can think for themselves?.”


Prof Dr. PR Poduval, Former Director of School of Management Studies, CUSAT: “The objective of education is to prepare students for the future. They should be competent in problem-solving, decision- making, task performance and relationship-building.”

Harikumar KS, Breakthrough Science Society: “Our students are academically bright, but logical thinking is lacking. If logical thinking is developed, then problem-solving and other skills will also develop in them. Without these skills, all the knowledge and information are meaningless.” 
Thomas George, Trainer: “If you are asked to talk about yourself for a minute and if you can’t express it in simple terms what you are and what you stand for, all education is meaningless”
Minimol Johnson, B.Edstudent: “ Are our teachers able to understand the aptitude of the students?”

Aptitude and Learning: Some views regarding our schooling system, for finding out the right aptitude of students, also came up for debate.  Parents and teachers still force students to go for entrance examinations and choose engineering or medicine,without giving any regard to the interests of the students who may have other strengths such as music, sports, acting, or literary talent.  Apart from teaching subjects, schools should be training the mind aimed at a full-fledged blossoming of talent in whichever vocation he or she takes up.  Aptitude tests should be used not merely to find out whether a course such as engineering or medicine is suitable for a student;  if a student is interested or passionate about a subject, an aptitude test could be taken to find out his or her strengths and weaknesses pertaining to it. For example, a student passionate about engineering buts slightly weak in maths, can spent more time on it and correct the problem before going ahead.

Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran, Managing Editor, Pallikkutam: “I had a student in Engineering college, who was not interested in continuing the course after first year as his interest was in acting. But his father wanted him to complete the course. Therefore, I persuaded the boy to complete the course as he is being trained to develop an engineering mind which is unique and help him do anything with passion, especially acting. And it worked as he became a successful actor. “

Emotional skills and understanding: It has been found that improper handling of emotional issues can block intelligence and may also lead to mental illness.  The integration of music, drama, theatre skills and art can help in the holistic development of a child. Instilling proper values in children will be helpful when they start their own family.  An education that doesn’t give importance to family life is no education at all.Emotional balance should be achieved in children. Let them hear a ‘No’ from you. Unless they hear a lot of ‘No’s in school, they won’t be able to overcome a lot of ‘No’s’ later on in life. The most important requirement for students is to make them stand straight, as erect posture adds to confidence and personality.  Education should take away the fear in the child to experiment and undertake tasks boldly. A fear developed in school can be carried by the child throughout his or her life, thereby affecting performance.


Anju P Tomy, B.Ed Student :  “After all the years spent in school,  the children have to live in society, understand people  and face problems. Our schools should equip them with such skills also and not just academics.”

Nelson Diaz:  Music therapy can be effectively used to improve learning and solve emotional problems.

Jayan Malil: “It has been found that arts and theatre training can help children overcome any crisis or problem they face. Role playing in drama can help children better express problems and also face any adversities.”

Sister Alice Joseph, Principal, St Joseph College: “In a world of crumbling moral values, it is important to teach value education to children. In our B.Ed class we have value education modules which will enable them to inculcate those values when they go out to teach.”


Sini S Nair, Art of Living Trainer: Our teachers are well educated and skilled, but they lack communication skills in English; BEd courses should give focus to soft skills as much as hard skills.

Sara Stephen, B.Ed Student:  Emotional intelligence has to be given weightage in the teacher curriculum as emotional skills are coming down.

 

Dr Josephine Joseph: "Value education is included in each lesson or subject taught in B.Ed classes. Even in science, we inculcate values through lessons and grades are given for them."


 

Marin Jose: "With the help of technology, we can bring the whole world into the classroom. The teacher can make best use of such resources for the benefit of students."

 

Recommendations


The role of the teacher has always been to enable a holistic development of the child and it hasn’t changed despite the technological disruptions.

Teachers should focus on cognitive development as a student lacking in thinking and conceptual skills may find his knowledge or skills not taking him forward in life.

Teachers should be trained in soft skills to enable better communication with students and stakeholders in education.

School education should help in blossoming of the full talent of the individual.


Proper balance should be made between classroom and ICT enabled learning.

Drama, Music and Art can be creatively used not only in academics, but also for emotional development and growth of a child.

Teachers should be able to find the aptitude of a child and motivate him to perform better. Aptitude tests should not be used to find out which course to pursue; it should be based on interests and passion.

Points to ponder

Can technology reduce the teaching and administrative work load of teachers and help them focus more on cognitive  and social learning abilities of children?


Are cognitive, social and psychological skills taking a back seat in our school education system?

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