Vidya Mandir, Chennai (CBSE)
Bhavani Raghunandan, principal of the school opines that the core school’s philosophy of treating all children equally- without regard to their social status or abilities- goes a long way in building confidence and self-esteem. By applauding good conduct as much as achievements, the school has ensured that its students are understated yet assured.
Vidya Mandir adopted a child-friendly assessment model way before it became fashionable to do so. There are no examinations in primary school, and the school does not rank students according to performance all through. The child is expected to use his own performance as a benchmark and improve on it. There is a lot of emphasis on co-curricular and extracurricular activities, giving all children an opportunity to excel. At the same time, there is emphasis on personal excellence, work ethic and team work. In keeping with its thrust on excellence, Vidya Mandir has invested in technology based learning tools, and also has many thriving activity clubs.
Raghunandan concludes that it is the school’s egalitarian philosophy combined with a focus on all round development that has led to the continued success of the students who graduate from the institution.
One of the reasons that we adopted the CCE is that tests and term exams take away as many as 20 days on average per term of teaching time, because teachers are more focused on setting papers, revising for exams, conducting exams and correcting papers. So we felt that it was better to do away with exams and focus instead on helping the child learn.
– Kamakshi Jayaram
These examples do give us concrete proof that student-centred learning is not merely an ideal- it can be achieved. However, one concern of many people is, is this kind of learning accessible to all? Or does it come at a cost that most of India cannot afford? After all, student-centred learning does demand more of schools and teachers – more time to introduce topics to students in different ways, more time for experiential learning, more investment in teaching aids and effective assessment tools, and more effort to give students personalised attention. While this sounds like a monumental task, there are schools which are succeeding in making education student-centred at a cost affordable to the Indian middle class.
Furthermore, the objectives of studentcentred learning, especially in an Indian context, can be achieved more easily if parents also play a proactive role in the process.