Recently, I was invited to be a panellist on the XSEED School of Tomorrow Conference in Mumbai, where the topic I was expected to comment on was: “Better Resources or Improved Methods: What Matters Most for School Quality?”. The panel comprised some eminent members – the Director of a Stenier school, CEO of an educational NGO and an educational consultant who also happens to be a theatre personality and writer. The panel discussion was moderated by an ex-Managing Editor of India Today. Some of the interesting points that came up:
- Firstly, what is this quality that we talk about? How do we define quality in education – is it about more marks, or better learning? The panellists and audience were pretty unanimous in their opinion that ‘quality’ could be equated to ‘student-centred education’, where the student is really at the centre of the learning process and the teachers strives to meet his needs rather than simply complete the syllabus on time.
- Once we have established that student-centred learning is what we are seeking to attain, how do we actually go about achieving it – through better resources like infrastructure and better teachers, or improved methods such as tools, assessment criteria, etc? The consensus seemed to be that one without the other is of no use. While the curriculum that the student follows is important, what is even more critical is the way in which that curriculum is delivered to the students – and delivery of the curriculum needs to be perfected from all angles: through teachers who are appropriately trained and supported with relevant and up-to-date teaching aids, as well as through learning tools that help students understand concepts rather than just memorise facts and assessment tools that determine how well a student has learned and not how much.
- And finally – who is reponsible for this kind of change? Is it the government, the schools and teachers, or each and every stakeholder in the child’s educational journey? For parents and the community have as critical a role to play in crystallising expectations and translating these into action, as does the educational community.
You will notice that while I have touched briefly upon the points we discussed during the panel, I have not really delved into them as much as I would have liked to. Co-incidentally enough our cover story of the next issue happens to be on student-centred learning. And you will see all these arguments and more, including creating a framework for student-centred learning, detailed there. It would be great to see some responses to this blog now on what student-centred learning means to you and how it can be achieved, ideas that you will then perhaps reiterate, revisit or even refute once you read our cover story!