Education: a debt due from present to future generations.

Innovative Methods of Teaching

Improving the quality of life and fostering sustainable and integrated development in the communities where we operate is central to our corporate philosophy. In pursuance to this Corporate Philosophy we (at Tata Chemicals Limited, Haldia) have taken up several projects on Community development like innovative methods of learning, Book Bank, Thalassemia support, Pond management, Aids awareness programme etc to help communities around Haldia plant. One of the projects is ‘Innovative Methods Of Teachings’ implemented with the help of technical partner ‘Vikramshila Education Research society’ an NGO.
Although this might sound to be very easy a task, but for the schools in rural villages of Bengal it’s a novel concept and is in contrast to the traditional teaching methods. In spite of all the hindrances the program has kick started very successfully with the school teachers taking active interest and initiative in carrying out the new techniques of teaching so as to mold themselves for imparting education effectively through innovative methods to make these village schools a better place.
Tata Chemicals society for Rural Development (TCSRD)  team at Haldia has embarked on an unusual mission of making primary rural school in the nearby areas of TCL an interesting place for students by adopting innovative methods of teaching. “Innovative methods of teaching” program stems from the need to reduce high dropout rate and low attendance in rural primary schools. One of the reasons for these problems from among the many other socio-economic reasons is monotonous and uninteresting method adopted for teaching.
TCSRD and our partner Vikramshila, work together for conducting training program for teachers and follow up of the training imparted, so as to ensure that the new teaching techniques are practiced.  Vikramshila’s Role is to build capacity of teachers and provide continuous support for quality improvement. In this process an academic support group would be formed which would act as a local level resource group for all Municipal school in the area.

Objectives of program

  • To make the process of teaching and learning an enjoyable and non- monotonous process
  • To bring about the aspect of student involvement and making class more interactive
  • To use of Visual and audio aids with Emphasis on thinking rather than just learning
  • To Increase the preparedness of Teachers
  • To Involve teachers in preparing teaching material
  • To make students work in collaborative and competitive fashion

 
Kumarchak Primary School is the first model school where program of “Innovative methods of teaching” was carried out on a pilot basis. On its successful completion it was replicated in four other municipal schools.

Process

The process followed for the program included three key steps: Need assessment, Capacity building and making learning fun.

Need Assessment
Initially the training units undertook a detailed need analysis process to understand the context of each teacher. The training was customized in a way to ensure that they are actual processes.

Capacity building
The organization firmly believed in building the agency of teachers to effect long lasting changes in education. The training programme was  aimed at preparing teachers to address the issues of equity and social transformation and the training sessions were therefore process oriented, flexible and open, giving teachers plenty of space to reflect and participate. Vikramshila offered   the following in service trainings-

1) Pre Primary (10 days with additional 2-3 days of hands on support in classrooms)
2) Primary (10 days with additional 3-5 days of hands on support in classrooms)

The program focused on adopting audio-Visual aids to teach new concepts related to environment, mathematics, Language etc. The process focused on understanding and learning rather than just mugging up where conceptual understanding and clarity did not take place. The different techniques used for teaching incorporated modern concepts of working in a team, two-way communication, creativity and thinking. This ensured that the above objectives were achieved. The techniques involved story telling with expressions, drawings and illustration, role-play, Illustrative charts, drawing & craft, singing and playing games, which trigger imagination and creativity. This helped in developing interest and liking among the students for attending school and learning in a cheerful way and ensured that it was not a boring and painful process.

Making Learning Fun
Learning is more meaningful and real when it is linked to concrete real life objects and situations. This often helps a child transcend her learning gaps and grasp abstract logics and concepts. Given that principally Language and mathematics are highly abstract in nature, and further given its criticality in overall learning, teaching aids and materials are a useful way to teach.
Vikramshila developed various kinds of Training learning materials which proved to be much useful for the students in different stages. Some kinds of Training learning materials  are: Pocket Board, Counting Box, Place Value Board, Multiplication Strips, Fraction Cards, Work Card, Creative Package, History Concertina, Puppets

Impact of the training program
Innovative methods of teaching has fared well in its attempt to improve the skills of primary school children at reading, writing simple text and doing basic mathematics.
As the students appear to be interested and participative in teaching process and show understanding of the subjects taught, the technique is definitely proving to be effective.
Hardworking and determination can be seen from the efforts put in making charts etc.  In spite of various limitation teachers have taken efforts in inculcating the new methods in teaching process. Students too appeared to be enjoying the new process and find the new techniques better than the ones used before starting this program.

  • Teachers’ relationships with peers and extra-curricular activities: The prevailing practices among teachers, along with the ideas and values behind them, have evolved towards a more professional and pro-active stance regarding their institution and own activities; teamwork as crucial to professional work is appreciated not only in discourse but practically.

  • Social relationships and work with students. The teaching practices have moved towards favouring a closer relationship with students and what they can bring into the teaching learning process, which is conducive to including more of their life elements and contexts within formal teaching experiences. Students participate more actively now than they did in the past and group work has become a typical feature of classroom apparently to the point of imbalance with respect to individual Work.
  • Teaching: These typically combine a better relationship with students and their lives, improving the teaching relationship and making teachers more active, but with a diverse educational purpose.

  • The program has currently worked with 5 Schools covering 600 students

Ira Mahapatra of Kanjanchak Dhananjoy Prathmik Vidyalaya had undergone the training. According to her the training helped in building the capacity of teachers for using various methods and tools for overall development of the students. This method of  teaching creates a clear understanding on a particular topic and helps in creating long lasting memory. The key focus of the teaching method is to build up thinking that make the most of these aspects building on our creative thinking and cross linking between ideas that exist in the mind.

Mitanati Bhowmik Giri a teacher of class 4 changed the sitting arrangement in the classes, which helped in increasing one to one contact with each and every student. This helped in better communication with the weak students and helping them to better understand the sessions taken.  The new sitting arrangement also helped in counseling of the weaker students in the classes.

The teaching materials provided by TCSRD helped the teachers in adopting new techniques of teaching. The materials were also used by the students which helped in learning while playing. The various models displayed in the classes helped the students to relate with their subjects.

Gradually it was found that the daily attendance of the students has improved in all the classes because of the adoption of innovative methods of teaching. Students appear to be interested and participative in teaching process and show understanding of subjects taught. The technique is definitely proving to be effective.

About Vikramshila
Vikramshila Education Resource Society (1989) is a nonprofit non government organization working in the area of education with the mission of “making quality education a reality for all children”.
For this, Vikramshila provides technical support to other organizations in the form of teacher training, development of curriculum material and teaching learning modules and materials. Vikramshila also undertakes innovative pilot projects from time to time in an action research mode to try out new ideas and look for practical solutions to problems in the field of education.
The organization’s core areas of work are-

  • Action research and pedagogy
  • Capacity Building
  • Advocacy and networking

About TCSRD
Tata Chemicals' corporate philosophy is deeply rooted in principles of sustainability. It recognizes that sustainability encompasses environmental stewardship, adding economic value, promoting human rights and building social capital. Tata Chemicals established TCSRD in Mithapur in 1980 as a result of its need to engage, understand and address the needs of its neighboring community. When the fertilizer plant at Babrala was commissioned TCSRD became active in that area and similarly started its operation after acquiring Haldia operation.

For several decades now, the company has consistently demonstrated its concern for its communities (both internal and external) and a respect for its environment and the local ecology. The community development initiatives at Mithapur, Babrala and Haldia are focused on crucial issues such as watershed development, rural energy and education and health. All of these form a part of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Nothing is more powerful and liberating than knowledge