Thursday, August 24, 2006

How to find what student loves

Having understood the dynamics of how one loves a subject (See the blog of 18 August), it is important to understand how to monitor a student’s growth and channelise his growth intelligently.

We give below five possible methods:

1. Pursue growth in subjects where a student gets higher marks

Although marks are earned by smart studying and reproducing, they also represent a student’s engagement with that subject. It shows that the student is growing incrementally and gracefully in that subject. That also means that a student’s skills are expressed well in that area. This clearly points to the fact that the stock of ‘liking’ may get converted into ‘interest’, ‘Love’ and ‘Passion’.

For students with higher marks, help them pursue growth and kick start the virtuous cycle in that subject/area. Get them to compete with other students in other schools and towns. Make them attend the Olympiad exams. Find the best teachers in those subjects and see how they are growing in that ‘subject area’. If a student does not grow in that subject area, it gives us a clear indication of ‘what student will not love’

2. Disregard marks and recalibrate

A student may miss learning of a lesson for some reason, such as illness, distraction or because he or she is a slow learner. Once a student falls behind, he/she cannot catch up easily because ‘school system’ of teaching is like an assembly system of car making: if one car accidentally misses a fitting attachment, the car cannot be stopped in between.

In a student, this may lead into another dynamic. As the next lesson is based on the earlier lesson, he/she may not understand the next lesson. A student unknowingly falls in this trap, which non-linear thinker calls, 'success to the successful pattern'. A small initial difference in understanding something can become larger and larger with days and years.

If one can ‘spot’ this early, it is easy to get them back on track. Time is of essence here, because the farther he falls, the difficult it is for him to get back on track. Getting a person back on track may be redoing the entire set of lesson once again. Or it may mean getting a brilliant teacher who has a knack of simplifying a complex subject.

3. Beware of subjects that are not mainstream

A student, who understands a ‘niche’ subject deeply, is penalised by the system. For instance, students excelling in languages are not encouraged for their excellence, but are compared with others on other mainstream subjects like mathematics or physics, which is supposed to be an indicator of ‘good student’. Abilities in languages, extensive subjects like geography or history are ignored. The same attitude is displayed for students excelling in fine arts, music, elocution and other ‘senses-based’ subject.

For such students, it is important to nurture their growth in this subject. Paradoxically, it is difficult to find good teachers in these subjects. But the effort is worthwhile, because it saves a child from being sidelined.

4. Beware of skills and strengths which are not measured by a school evaluation system

Another flaw in a school’s evaluation system is inability to measure a student’s skill of managing relationships. Managing relationships is a critical ability for successful jobs in an organization, besides being critical in ensuring that an individual can find ‘love’ and happiness in his relationships.

Another critical skill to succeed in future life is a student’s ability to take charge of one’s self. Now a day’s this ability is measured by Emotional intelligence. However, emotional intelligence, as is done currently, is not enough. One needs to understand and monitor how beliefs and stress are generated and managed by a student.

Such ‘soft’ skills can only be measured and monitored by observing students, and by offering them ‘assignments’. This is what we call ‘Prolifing’. Prolifing is a method of gaining self information by observing him/her in different settings, and by tracking his record in select assignments.

5. Use the wider definition of ‘learning’

Learning does not mean reading books, giving tests, and appearing for exams.

Learning means learning to apply the knowledge learnt in real life. For instance, learning means understanding how student uses mathematics to understand the EMI on House loan, or to calculate the interest earning on savings deposit.

Learning means exposing students to different situations and observing how they respond to it. The situation could be a picnic or it could be a simple method of ‘preparing’ for a elocution competition.

Learning means using a student’s various ‘support systems’ to help him/her explore. For instance, students learning in Mumbai learn a lot by using the ‘commuting’ time.


Hiren said...

I strongly feel that the teachers should be trained as vocational psychologists and be imparted the kind of training that takes place in the United states, Knowing thyself is one of the toughtest things and students who are not experienced in practical life can hardly be expected to understand the significance of that.

What has been said about languages is absolutely right. Parents and teachers must get over their fixations and preconceived notions about certain careers.

Anonymous said...

Hey - I am certainly happy to find this. Good job!