Bringing knowledge into classrooms
Understanding concepts and guiding principles are the basis for a healthy curriculum. When students understand what they learn, their achievement goes up
By Viral Parekh, Program Director, The American Institute of Enrichment
Reflecting on the current state of school education in India, the concerns in education now are not for the teachers who seek to help students find authenticity, meaning, and utility in what they teach. Instead, it is for all the pressures that cause teachers to believe they can’t afford the luxury of curricula with those attributes. Tests and assessments based on curricula often lead to repetition of facts and practice of skills, and as these are often devoid of context and meaning, they lead to lack of motivation for the young to explore more on the taught content.
Syllabus versus Knowledge
Needless to say that school teachers cannot disregard the mandates for student proficiency with ‘the basics’ taught in schools. A list of standards, which provide teachers with guidance on innovative and engaging delivery models, can bring a fresh beginning to the role of teachers. As teachers, we may be provided with ingredients/syllabus for curriculum – but they are not curriculum. We have to work towards innovative methods of creating a defensible curriculum. Through our indepth research and many model schools adopting our teaching techniques – our faculty has developed ways to use the ingredients to invite students to the table of learning, in ways that contribute to strong minds, and in ways that commend learning as deeply fulfilling.
All students deserve and need to derive meaning and power from what they learn, despite the common myth that only a small group of students should work with higher order, meaning-rich curriculum. Understanding concepts and guiding principles are the basis for a defensible curriculum. When students understand what they learn, student achievement rises, as do the students’ prospects for a productive and satisfying life in a world much more multidimensional than an answer sheet.
The world is changing dramatically. Global economics, politics, and social interactions and issues, along with advancing technologies, require more of citizens than surface knowledge and skills. Traditional curriculum designs focus on teaching topics and facts and make an assumption that students will understand the key concepts and principles of the discipline. Our innovative curriculum design demands teachers to consciously guide students to a deep understanding of the concepts and principles that structure a discipline. This is a paradigm shift from traditional instruction models we commonly see today.
The American Institute of Enrichment serves as a partner in leadership, organisation design, and system effectiveness. We work in collaboration with schools to develop change and improvement strategies that are custom tailored for each school. No two schools ever receive the same service from AIE. Majority of the times we engage in longterm partnerships with our school that include both on-site and online support and assistance. The AIE helps determine the school’s current reality and defines the preferred future. AIE faculty members chart a course that is customised specifically for the school’s objectives. Along the way working closely with school leadership teams to ensure implementation and measuring change. In the process, the AIE often conducts teacher training, induction and mentoring, assessment design and parent/student seminars. Our goals are not new to education; instead we help schools to break-away from old curriculum design paradigms to new engaging and exciting ways o teaching. The teachers find it enlightening and inspiring seeing their children engaged and motivated by the clarity of the instructional models we have incorporated. As we take on the leadership role in facilitating changes we remind schools that the change process is a journey – not an end point.