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Hunger for learning

education Updated: Dec 16, 2009 09:31 IST
Jitendra Nagpal
Jitendra Nagpal
Hindustan Times
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Holistic knowledge is is something that a child gains while growing up. In each phase of growth, he or she acquires social, emotional and cognitive skills, which, when backed by an environment conducive to growth, helps them become healthy adults.

The most important task, thus, for a teacher is to encourage learning and behaviour-modification, so that the student develops an appetite for learning.

Educators do not simply need to know about the subjects they teach; they also need to know each student’s needs. When teachers act as mentors and facilitators, they influence learning in a positive way.

If teaching is to be effective and has to have any significant impact on the student, there should be a harmonious blend between teaching a subject and tutoring a student. In terms of holistic assessment, teachers need to focus on life-building skills primarily involving the three areas of cognitive, social and emotional development, to acknowledge informational content in terms of aptitude, culture and values and physical health of the adolescent.

There should also be emphasis on interactive teaching methodologies such as role play, situation analysis, small group works, debates, one-on-one rehearsal, decision mapping, literature content analysis coupled with relaxation exercises and games. If teachers are competent in group activities, can guide and facilitate life skills, and are supportive and knowledgeable about specific content areas relevant to student and community resources, they will to able to realise a student’s potential and carve out a holistic personality.

When we talk about a holistic paradigm of health that a school promotes, the following should be kept in mind: First, it creates a healthy setting required for living, learning and working. Second, it focuses on health, presenting the important causes of death, disease and disability by helping school children, staff, family and community to care for themselves. Third, it allows informed decisions over circumstances affecting the students’ health and create conditions conducive to the health of children.

In the journey towards a joyful learning climate, the school should:
. Provide a friendly, rewarding and supportive atmosphere
. Encourage co-operation and active learning
. Forbid physical punishment and violence
. Not tolerate bullying, harassment and discrimination
. Value the development of creative activities
. Enhance family-school partnership
. Promote equal opportunities and participation for all children.

As a teacher of the ‘educational renaissance’, one needs to be prepared to:
. Care for children, and love to be with them
. Understand children within social, cultural and political contexts
. Be receptive to being a life-long learner
. View learning as a search for meaning out of personal experience, and knowledge
as an evolving process of reflective learning
. View knowledge as personal experiences constructed in the context of teaching-
learning, instead of being confined to the external reality of textbooks.

The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at hthorizons@ hindustantimes.com, marked
‘Dr Nagpal’

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