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Decoding Student-Centred Learning

A good curriculum is one that addresses five critical components – clarifies the aim and objective of learning, provides opportunities for hands-on experimentation by the child, introduces concepts through reflection and analysis and follows it through with application, and constructive feedback.

Ashish Rajpal, CEO, iDiscoveri

4What is an international curriculum all about? Hear it from Don Gardner, Principal, B D Somani International School, Mumbai. Gardner is a passionate believer in the educational philosophy of the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

Please tell us a little bit about the IB philosophy.

International curricula focus on the students’ learning, encouraging them to construct what they know themselves, as opposed to the model in the Indian education system, where students are ‘taught’. There, the focus is on the teacher. Here, the focus is on the student. We present them with a variety of learning situations that will go a long way towards making them independent learners, helping them understand different situations.

Even when students are assessed, we present them with problems associated with new situations. Our teaching aims to provide them with the tools to answer the needs of such situations. If they are able to successfully solve problems they have not faced before, then this proves that they are better equipped to be successful in today’s world.

There is a common misconception that the Indian system is competitive, while international curricula do not encourage competition. The world is a competitive place – we know that. But it needs to be balanced. Here, students do compete, but at the same time, they also know how to collaborate so that everyone improves.

How does it prepare children for the way ahead – for higher education and for jobs in the real world?

These are the areas we focus on, and that are essential to the ‘real’ world as well: confidence, collaboration, problem-solving, coping with new situations and communication.

In your experience, what does your curriculum offer children that other curricula don’t?

I ask students and parents the same question when the students are leaving the school. And they all agree that the students have gained tremendous confidence. Our emphasis is on the student – the student takes responsibility for learning, without being overly supervised. He is responsible for getting things done, to perform to his potential. We have a greater emphasis on students doing presentations and oral assessments. Some people believe that this form of education is simpler and is watered down. But this is not true! There is a lot of academic rigour in the international curricula. Even within the classroom, we have a lot of talking and conversation taking place between the students. A traditional classroom has teacher monologues. But here, we collaborate to solve tasks together.

Is the curriculum student-centred?

An IB student is expected to imbibe ten attributes of a learner – enquiring, risk taking, communicative, caring, reflective… The philosophical focus is on what kind of human being we are trying to foster, rather than only how much math he knows. So in that sense, yes, the curriculum is student-centred since it is looking at the holistic development of the student.


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