Chitra Venkatesan -MYP Faculty and Physics Teacher, MIT Vishwashanti Gurukul, Pune
Chitra Venkatesan, a science graduate with 18 years of teaching experience is currently a teacher of Integrated Sciences for grades MYP 1 to MYP 4 at Vishwashanti Gurukul world school, LoniKalbhor, Pune – an International Boarding and day school following the IB Board.
Physics can be well understood by the application of the concepts taught in the classroom in relation to everyday life activities. All the technologies we use are based on some of the rules of physics. Whether it comes to describing the motion, forces and energy of ordinary experience, in actions such as walking, driving a car or using a phone, or a simple “see-saw” at a park to a slide, a ramp used in railway stations, etc., physics is at work.
So, I strongly believe in encouraging the students to think and ask open-ended questions that trigger inquiry to learn the subject well.
Weaving Technology into the curriculum
Integration of technology into the classroom is one very effective way to connect with students of different learning styles. Virtual classrooms combined with traditional classroom instruction enhances the level of understanding. I have seen students with diverse learning styles connect well through the virtual lab when conducting research and scientific investigation.These days most students prefer taking notes on their laptops than their hard copies. This can be greatly utilized in the teaching process.
No rote learning in the IB model
IB curriculum focuses on holistic development and it is student-centric enabling them to have interdisciplinary understanding and liberty to choose their subjects of interest. It focuses on the concept-driven curriculum taught in connection with the 6-different global context, which encourages the students to interpret information in different new perspectives. Learning in IB is represented by a 3-dimensional inquiry cycle, with Inquiry, action, and reflection of the unit. Intellectual and practical skills are developed through designing, analyzing and performing scientific investigations that allow students to collect enough data to address a problem or question. IB encourages analytical, logical reasoning and language skills. The students are assessed all-round the year on a variety of criteria. Quizzes, essays, portfolios, and assignments are used to evaluate students, and with a heavy focus on internal assessment, keeping the students on their feet throughout the year. Therefore, in the IB curriculum, as research, application, and analysis play a vital role there is no place for rote learning.
Breaking the monotony
Integration of technology, i.e teaching through presentations, simulations, videos, interactive lectures with discussions, lab demonstrations, guest lectures by experts, educational field trips and tours, etc., can be used to overcome monotony. Virtual labs are interesting and fun and hence provide for a high degree of understanding and learning.
Significance of coaching centers today
Today’s parents are very keen in their children’s career. They approach coaching centers to put their children under the guidance of the experts in that field, to get admission in good colleges. In fact, students hunt for good coaching classes even before seeking admission in school and it has become a necessity, as it is impossible to cover most of the concepts in detail within the time span in the classes during school hours. Also, the students prefer these classes rather than the school as they get one to one attention. It is advantageous as it helps them in understanding and learning additional concepts. The focused study in the coaching centers, which provide training for specific entrance examinations is also helpful to the students. This eventually reduces the load on the students and gives them guidance at one place.
Even the schools have started tying up with these classes to support their students’ professional training in the higher secondary levels, as they consider the importance of the expert guidance. I feel that these coaching centers have gained popularity over traditional schooling in recent times, as they have experts in that field to prepare the students to appear for all the competitive examinations.
The fear of Math and Science
According to most students, subjects like Science, Mathematics, and engineering are considered difficult, as they feel that these subjects are abstract and cannot be understood easily. Usually, most of the students become nervous before the day of Math and Science exams, especially Physics. I strongly feel that the lack of conceptual understanding of the basics of these subjects plays a vital role in developing the fear in them. The students are also under the stress of getting less or average scores in these subjects, which add up to their aversion. They need to understand the concept and visualize it, deal with the solution for solving problems of Mathematics or Physics.
Visualization comes from the everyday experience and relating Mathematics or Physics to such everyday experience requires sound teaching. These subjects should be taught with fun rather than using the conventional system of teaching, which makes the learning of these subjects boring, bringing down their interests. They tend to develop a disassociation with the subject and after a longer period, they start disliking it. An efficient teacher should enable the students to learn the way to solve a problem through visualization and in the process, ease out the difficulty in learning.
As this Math fear is growing every day, the educators should sense this problem and create a healthy and fear-free environment where a child takes interest in Math and Science.
Fewer girls in STEM subjects
Generally, women in our society are rarely encouraged to pursue Math and Science as most people believe that these subjects are meant for men. I feel that not all the women are encouraged to continue with their career like men. Getting into another family becomes an important phase and an unavoidable factor in their life. As they take up a new role as a wife and mother and simultaneously pursue their academic careers, they find it difficult to manage both. Without any support structure to help them to continue working, at times, they are forced to prefer family over their career.
Another reason could be – while pursuing professional courses there may be discrimination in allocating projects to girls. Boys being assigned interesting problem-solving tasks where they could develop their analytic and technical skills, while women may have been assigned jobs that do not appeal to their technical skills.
Advice to students
I would want the students to learn the subject with logical reasoning. Relate every concept taught to everyday activities to remember the laws, principles and their application. Never practice rote learning. Be attentive and spend ten minutes of your daily routine in just reading the concepts learned that day.
Apart from the textbooks, cultivate the habit of taking notes in the class. Never fear or feel timid to ask questions. Curiosity is the mother of invention that unfolds the path of ‘learning’. Both curiosity and the inquiry were the seeds of growth and achievements of the great eminent scientists of the world, without whom the luxuries we enjoy in life would have notbeen possible.
Advice to parents
My message to all the parents, to appreciate the good qualities in their children, in front of others and correct them personally. Trust your child and give them the confidence that you will be with them always, to approach you for any of their concerns. Never compare them with any other child as this will bring down their morale and curb their growth. Listen to their concerns and respect their feelings rather than forcing your thoughts and decisions on them. Talk to them freely, support and guide them to be independent, respect the time, take responsibility, to believe in sincere effort and hard work and teach them to analyse all situations and take decisions looking at the pros and cons. Each child is unique. Try to look for that uniqueness in your child and encourage that quality.
Vishwashanti Gurukul School,
Pune, Maharashtra 421201.