Monday, October 12, 2015

How to address the strength of 21st century children at Elementary Education

How to address the strength of 21st century children at Elementary Education

     By: Mrs. Narayani Singh, Head Mistress,
          KV Bacheli, Dantewada, CG, India

 Fulbright Distinguished award in Teaching Program 2015

Key words - Elementary Education, Technology, 21st century children

Elementary Education is the first formal education in life. It imparts knowledge to the children from 5 years to 10 (12) years old   from 1st grade to 5th grade. Formal school education begins from 5 years of age in my country. In the formative years of a child’s life, it lays down the academic foundation, imbibes good habits & concretizes positive attitude. A child starts forming his perception towards life, community & humanity.

Every child is unique & gifted with special talents. So, it is the sole responsibility of the mentors & parents to manifest the latent talent - providing appropriate opportunities and conducive environment in the school and at home. I find the mentoring of children challenging for evident reasons. Today’s children are digital children. Their exposure through travel from the very childhood and revolution in the field of technology – computer, mobile phones, internet, TV, films etc.. have touched their life profoundly. Apparently, there is a sharp shift in the children’s strength and interest. They demonstrate commendable confidence level; exhibit their dancing, singing and performing various arts pleasingly. Prior to admission in schools many of them will be brimming with excitements to join it. Education system, schools and parents must take care of today’s generation style of learning to accomplish the elementary education fruitfully.

In my opinion, conventional teaching stands ineffective leaving the children with boredom & puzzle. It is marked that, little kids operate the electronic devices like android phones, computers, TV remote etc. with sheer efficiency. Amazingly, they leave the grown -ups/ teachers behind at times; consequently the respect of the mentors seems at stake. On the contrary, the same children show lack of interest & withdrawal gestures in classrooms, poor performance in academics is contemptible. For some subjects, they feel like discarded. Hence, humongous shift in paradigm is obvious.
To address the needs and demands of 21st century children the curriculum, books, pedagogy, activities, assignments, and evaluations are to be designed accordingly. Rethinking and revisiting the strategies & methodology of elementary education are obligatory.

21st Century Perspective: Let us think about the prospective of the 21st century learning. Conspicuously, it is to create global citizens dissolving the boundaries of nations, cultures & languages. The Education System should incorporate the issues of fast changing trends across the globe. Today’s world is experiencing an information explosion, quick and easy mobilization, worldwide acceptance of globalization, cultural union, environmental Issues such as the depletion of natural resources, energy crisis, green - house effect, O3 layer, natural calamities, pollution blast and humanitarian issues like poverty, riots, illiteracy, diseases such as Ebola epidemic and many more. Elementary education must include these aspects.
For the techno savvy children activity based Teaching-Learning and  technology should go hand in hand integrating the following continuum:

1. Activities routed through Technology: The learning activities should initiate routing technology. The autonomy to intrude self - approach for acquiring information at the prima facie on any topic / area of learning will be easy through technology for the children. Bubbling with energy – interest – curiosity, they will embark on search engines on the internet. With the guidance of mentors, it will always be exciting for the children to filter the relevant information, infer the concept, compare the results, conclude the findings to construct knowledge. Mentors will steer their learning to activities to implement their knowledge in practical ways  which will lead to wisdom. Definitely, technology will play tremendous role in quenching the thrust of learning at elementary stage also. I have evidences of playing Temple Run Game & Subways video games on an android phone by children of below three years old using even one hand. The size of the phone, speed of the game, the skill of the little kid, movement of tiny fingers all leave me speechless. It is my strong believe that venturing with such types of technological skills, education at school will yield the maximum.

2. Technology  and  Global  perspectives-   

Think together – work together – learn together make the learning effective and permanent. Learning together is not confined to a particular standard of school. It’s conception is learning in collaboration across the globe. We know the actuality that the world has shrunk today. Science & Technology are leveraging the closeness of the races & cultures defeating geographical precincts. Through World Wide Web the exchanges make possible the observation & identification real. For instance: South Bastar Dantewada in India has no ocean or desert but dense forest. The students and teachers of New York or Dubai can exchange the scenes of ocean & desert with forest. The impact of climate on life style will undeniably be visualized the true story. The topography, diversities in organism, climate & life style of the different parts of the world can directly be exchanged resulting in boosting up the eagerness and concept building.
3. Technology & diverse cultural spectrums

Cultural threads are the most powerful elements to shape the individuals. Elementary schools should integrate the learning with diverse cultural spectrums. Integration of teaching with cultural fragments sustains the zeal among students connecting learning with life. Technology is an effective tool in this regard. Children’s

educational  films,  documentary  films and   YouTube videos stimulate the world cultures existing and vanished. It opens the avenue to respect & cohesiveness with other cultural heritage.
Indubitably it leads to peace & harmony. It contributes in inculcation of values and belongingness among the children from the early stage. Customs and traditions, old or new are to be judged and convinced to adopt.

In a subtle ways language enhancement-vocabulary addition, correct pronunciation, intonation will also be added.

4.Technology & Inter-disciplined Approach-

The Internet serves to maximize opportunities  for the Project Based
Learning. Inter schools’ team of the students along with Coach/Coaches form different countries. Working with friends stationed away is a different kind of experience. Project based learning integrates different subjects like- Languages, Math and Environmental sciences, Music, Art & craft, Games & sports, life skills and soft skills. Conducting meetings, allocation of work responsibility, doing surveys going down to communities, interviews, the collection of data, group discussion, library browsing, photography, videography, elocution, setting rubrics for evaluation, solving the conflicts, uploading of the project findings on website and in the end celebrations, all ensure the wide and deep learning. Such approaches   address the strength and the need of new generation learners.

Technology & Sensitization on Sustainability of Environment: Organizing the various events in India like cleanliness drive, energy conservation week, world environment day, world yoga day, pulse polio day etc.. contribute towards the sensitization of sustainable development activities. Technology supporting Learning Modules on such programs must be prepared as an important segment of curriculum. Technology Aided Activities could include TV programs, News bulletins, Advertisement videos, slogans, SMS etc.. to catch the attention and interest of students. For instance – Ad video on save fuel - New Diamond finger ring for wife …. The ad is based on the concept of pooling of the car to save fuel. Teachers should draw attention on the message of the advertisement-
i) The objective is to save energy,
ii) Result of saving energy,  
iii) Contribution to environment if energy is saved,
iv)   Develop  the habit of saving energy
v. Contribution towards sustainable development from the childhood,
vi. Creation of their own video with the same concept,
vii. It will satisfy the interest, aptitude, strength and creativity of the children.

There are many Ad videos on TV channels, You Tube, Magazines & Newspapers in India related to health & hygiene, Nutritive food, Amul Doodh pita hai India, Safety from Malaria, Dengue fever, Pulse Polio (Do boond Zindagi ke), Life Insurance etc.

5. Values – The ultimate goal of education is to live life gracefully. And values add grace to life. Without values education is incomplete. Today’s generation too often demands evidence to be convinced. Until the values are not convinced, children will not adopt. We know that the old values and practices can be brought for awareness in the schools with the help of films / other technical media.

Teaching strategy & Pedagogy to be thought of: Global Studentship & Global Teaching -

Bringing the world in the classroom through technology, opening to the world by travelling and exchanging the teachers across the globe is recommended. Global school concept is advocated from the upper elementary stage for the students of IV & V grades.

Curriculum and books - Electronic books should also be available to access on phones, tablets, P.Cs at any place.
Bilingual books for I, II & III grades for Indigenous population and first generation students, Brail scripts books, Wave books (audio) for differently abled students are must to include all sections of the society for education.
Compilation of progressive modules Concepts and fundamentals on the different topics integrating subjects – languages, math, Environmental Sciences, Art, Music, Craft etc. Soft skills & life skills should be main adage to the elementary education. Topics should address skill  & competency development.
Activities of vital areas should be focused on cerebral and dexterity development. And learning and construction of knowledge should be on individual’s identity & experience.

Today’s children are digital children. Education system must take care of their interest and strength. And technology will make curriculum, books, pedagogy, activities with Global perspectives and cultural spectrums, values inculcation, assignments, and evaluations delightful. It will enhance the

ease to School Management Committee, parent-teachers collaboration, payments, the training of teachers, stress managements and counseling.

Absolutely, technology will bring a new dawn in Elementary Education to create global citizens considering the demography of the school.

       Expand your mind…Expand your opportunity