Dharmendra Dan Dubay -Chemistry Teacher ,Canadian International School, Bangalore
A graduate (B.Sc majoring in Chemistry with Biological Sciences) from the University of the West Indies and a post-graduate in Stem Cell Biology, Dharmendra Dan Dubay has been a teacher since April 1990. He is currently the Chemistry Teacher at Canadian International School, Bangalore and also holds an MSc in Environmental Management and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education.
Dubay says – I had the opportunity to work in schools with great facilities and very motivated students hence I became fully involved in teaching science in the way it is meant to be taught, with very strong focus on practical work and inquiry.
I have also been very involved in online teaching and I have a YouTube channel where I have posted over 300 videos and links to lessons on Ted-Ed.
I have been married for 20 years to a great Spanish and French teacher and my wife Susan and I have taught in 5 countries with very different school environments.
Education in the West Indies and education in India
Education in the (Trinidad and Tobago) West-Indies is similar to India in many ways and this comes from our shared British heritage. In both countries, there is a strong belief that school qualifications are only valid when they are given by an external board such as Cambridge or Oxford.
Parents spend huge sums of money to send their children for tuition after school and there is a huge focus on exam preparation and grades. In Trinidad and Tobago, all students have access to free education of good quality but some schools are better equipped and have more focused, motivated students and more involved parents. Others are troubled by student violence and lack of trained teachers to deal with special needs.
Teaching the students of today
There is a lot of competition to get into top universities and good grades on board exams and test scores like SAT and ACT are important but should not be the main focus. Many universities seek thinkers, innovators, collaborators and problem solvers as prospective students. The need to memorise is almost obsolete and educators must be open to this.
Our students must be encouraged to design, work in teams and solve problems. I encourage all of these qualities but a large part of the time at school is still dedicated to exam coaching, past-exam questions and rote learning. In the current scheme of things, exam scores remain important but quality educators must nurture creativity.
To balance this I have turned to online teaching and this gives me more classroom time for students to work on extended projects, practical investigations and presentations.
I believe that the need to get students to do well on exams kills creativity, innovation and risk-taking. Organisations like the IB -The International Baccalaureate aim to encourage these attributes but ultimately there is too much emphasis on final exams grades. Many senior educators lack vision and are content with the status quo.
Some simple examples are penmanship, spelling, drawing diagrams in Biology and paper and pencil graphs in Chemistry. Many educators become defensive when I say that these are irrelevant. They often say that exam performance depends on this but that does not make it relevant in modern society. The exam boards need radical change and then we might see a trickle down effect to teachers who feel that good board exam grades equal good teaching.
Using Technology as a teaching tool
Today children are born into a world where ‘google’ is a verb and in one click they can record all of the notes on the board. How to do videos are available for any task. The students I work with have come to take technology for granted but I can recall that in my days at school, I was very engaged when my textbook had colour images. Now it’s hard for me to imagine teaching my classes without the use of the internet.
In the early days of the Internet and projectors, I recall that it was a very powerful teaching tool but the current generation will need virtual reality in the classroom to provide a similar effect.
An ideal Chemistry department in an institution
I feel that it is imperative for each student to have safe access to equipment and technology to allow them to question everything and to investigate. If I tell them that copper sulfate is blue they must have crystals to observe this. If I tell them that it contains water or crystallisation they must be asked to prove this and to quantify the amount. They must have access to devices like colorimeters and spectrometers to show that a solution of copper sulfate absorbs orange light and reflects blue.
Science is all about investigations and data and the ideal classroom will be a safe place where students are allowed to ask their own questions and seek answers by leading their own independent investigations. If they make errors or have ‘failures’ they must be supported and given more opportunities.
Genuine scientific inquiry is built on failure and reflection. The ideal chemistry department will need significant funding and a student to teacher ratio of no more than 15 to 1. The learning space must be practical, safe, comfortable and inviting.
School Contact Details:
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Phone: +91 80 67594444