Soham Roy, Faculty – Chemistry SelaQui International School, Dehradun
I have always been a seeker of new knowledge and experiences. To know the “WHY?” of things and then sharing with others the knowledge, gleaned from my learning, with added insights always gets me excited. The curiosity to explore and find new things all started since my days in Don Bosco, Bandel and Kendriya Vidyalaya (AFS), Barrackpore, where I went to school. From there, my journey has taken me through IIT Kanpur, where I did my Master’s and off to foreign shores of USA (Arizona State University) and Germany (Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research) for independent research.
Since the past two years, I have been in the lively and verdant 52 acres of SelaQui International School, a residential CBSE school in Dehradun. At SelaQui, which is built on the ideal of leadership and excellence at its core, I have the privilege to share my learnings in Chemistry to Classes 9-12.
Becoming a teacher
Personally, I believe there cannot be a science teacher as such. No one can teach something when that thing is ubiquitous in our daily life. What indeed can be done is to be still and observant. For me the biggest inspiration during my science explorations has always been my surroundings. It all started a long time back. Maybe, one of the first times was when I observed water rushing across a window pane and still the glass felt dry to the touch. Why was water behaving like so? My teachers, parents and others all explained it in different ways and to different degrees of accuracy but there was no one single reason to justify what I had observed. Perhaps, this deep curiosity led me to traverse the paths of fundamental research and finally, put me in front of a classroom of eager teenagers looking for answers.
From sitting in classrooms across continents, what I have gathered is that a rigid, structured routine inside the classroom doesn’t always lead to the best outcome when it comes to experiencing science. Thus, I make it a conscious effort to make no two classes similar. There should always be an element of change. On some days, it may simply involve re-arranging the furniture to represent the different states of matter. While, on others, I challenge the students to devise ways to represent a topic to their classmates using ideas based on design-thinking. Although, for the board classes, I tend to keep the assimilation of the prescribed curriculum the foremost priority. Though, I would like to add that I always insist the pupils to ask questions – any and all questions are welcome in my class. It is because through questioning only, you begin the process of unearthing and discovery in the Sciences.
The surprise element
One of the biggest rewards of the teaching journey in school is that every class holds something captivating every single time. If everything went “as planned”, the journey would be quite insipid and monotonous. Like, I vividly remember the time when this class of 9th graders gathered themselves into a surprising and rousing chorus of a song about the asteroid belt. We were discussing the heliocentric model of the atom. It was quite unusual and at the same time, quite heartening. They were making all their neuronal connections in unison to this new topic from what they learned in grade eight about the solar system.
The fear of science
Science subjects feature high on the list of stress inducers for a student in the Indian Education System. The reasons for such apprehension are many-fold. Without delving into too many details, I believe there are 2 key issues behind this paranoia or ‘fear’. Firstly, the societal and peer pressures of performing well in Science, lest you be labeled as unintelligent or academically weak since a young age. The other cause would be us, teachers, from junior classes, emphasizing high stakes in Science as a marker for future success.
One of the ways to remedy such a stressful environment is that students should be given the freedom to make mistakes without high stake judgment attached to it, when it comes to Science. Every student is different and he / she should observe record, analyze and infer at their own pace. Students need to reflect at the end of the day to figure out the “WHYs?” and sometimes, the “WHY NOTs?” behind a science concept.
The CBSE Curriculum
Having studied in both ICSE as well as CBSE systems, the breadth of the content CBSE offers is beyond compare. NCERT is implementing incremental changes every year to its curriculum and the content delivery in the classroom. From not only instructing the students in the textbook material but also coupling it with relevant skills of collaboration, communication, citizenship and other necessary competencies, which are essential to succeed beyond the school.
When such a modern approach is taken to the classroom, there is an observable change in the attitude of the students. The students display high levels of confidence in their abilities. This is of paramount importance.
SelaQui International School,
Near Pharma City,
Chakrata Road, Selaqui,
School Telephone Numbers: 0135 3051000, 0135 3051002