One of the biggest challenges that concern the teachers of today, globally is the herculean task of completing the syllabus. Magnifying the problem in the post-covid educational crisis is the vastness of the syllabus and the paucity of time – leading to an ever-widening learning gap. “Let less be the more now,” says the head of Computer Science department and a senior headmistress at KIIT World School, Pitampura, New Delhi, Dr. Richa Verma who recently bagged the Delhi state teachers’ award in Medium Schools category.
In a candid conversation with EducationWorld, Dr Richa Verma shares her teaching journey, the present educational crisis, syllabus concern and teaching curricula.
Congratulations on winning the Delhi state teachers award. How has the 20-year long teaching journey been?
My teaching journey has been a very adventurous one. Every year, I see a multitude of students who come with different learning styles, values and backgrounds. The challenge lies in developing successful stories from all of them, giving them the freedom to choose from their own learning methods and continuing this journey thereafter.
In the year 2012, I was promoted as the headmistress of the school. From then on, the role became more challenging for me.
The journey would not have been as enriching had it not been for our principal Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia, whose sheer guidance, vision and motivation helped me to achieve wherever I am today. Also, this award personifies the recognition that has been given to KIIT as a team. The school has grown into a top-performing CBSE school and it is a proud moment to deliver leaders in every domain.
What do you think is lacking in this today’s generation of students?
There is nothing that lacks in this generation of students. Infact, they are more bright, intelligent, focused, over-ambitious being privy to too much accessible information all around. The biggest advantage they have is the internet. The challenge for the students lies in the ability to get the proper guidance to choose what is relevant. If proper guidance is ignored, there can be huge digressions.
At our growing age books and teachers were our only source of knowledge and information and hence our development was at a slower pace compared to our students. Access to information at high speed is a normal phenomenon and they just need to focus on what to assimilate in order to utilize this boon to the fullest.
Easy availability of information, ability to refer to current development and collaborate with people across globe, detail understanding, and multiple channels and more career options are the various ways in which children can develop their knowledge-pool.
Has KIIT World School re-opened and resumed physical classes?
Yes. We have re-opened on September 1, 2021 after a 17-month-long shutdown. According to the government norms, we have re-opened for classes 9 -12 and are doing three offline classes per week along with online classes.
Classes 10 and 12 are having good attendance whereas classes 9 and 11 are picking up slowly.
Has online education helped or harmed students? What are your further plans?
According to a survey by Azim Premji University, 82 percent of numeracy have been lost whereas 92 percent of language skills were lost among primary school students. The pandemic was an unprecedented scenario, and nobody had any idea to carry on during the trying times. Although there were challenges like students not having access to digital learning methods, but they have adapted to this new normal very fast channelizing them towards a lot of self-learning. We have initiated subject-related talks among our students, conduct viva voce on the same questions that were given as objectives for online exams and personal interaction. Of course, there were learning gaps and students have not studied as much as they should have, but students of higher classes have shown greater grit, determination, and self-reliance. Once the gaps are identified, it becomes an easy task for the school authorities to bridge the same.
If given a chance, what change would you bring in the education department?
The present generation is going to create tomorrow’s society. Inclusive education is of paramount importance irrespective of caste creed, social and economic strata. There should be a heightened sense of vigilance amongst those in the educational fraternity to ensure that children, especially who are in need of special care – economic, social or otherwise are not left out during these trying times.
Syllabus completion does not mean that one has to go line by line what is written in the book. By “Let less be the more now”-I meant that let us include less syllabus for our children where they will not be required to rush through the whole and can understand the concepts better. This will further help them achieve bigger goals as superficial knowledge will not help you traverse through tough roads.
There is some innate understanding in every human being. Everybody have the power to think and observe. I believe, the power of learning is already there in the children. The teacher’s job is to take out that by questioning and do value addition from her side, develop critical thinking and practical thoughts. Focussing on students’ observation will help them interact in the classes, hone their analytical power and also complete the syllabus faster with an enriching impact on the students.
This generation needs to be prepared for an increasingly complex world, they are likely to face challenges that have not emerged so far, they need to be prepared to use technologies that have not been invented and for jobs that have not been created yet. The present curriculum should give space to development of human values. Pedagogy should promote competence in children so that they learn how to learn on their own.National, News