Deepika Venkatesh, Senior School Educator, Ebenezer International School, Bengaluru

Deepika is currently working as a senior school educator at Ebenezer International School, Bengaluru. She switched careers from being a Senior Risk and Regulatory Affairs Analyst at Deloitte USI to the field of education with an aim of magnifying sustainable education. Being a Digitally Certified educator by organizations like National Geographic and Google she believes in encompassing progressive teaching and learning techniques in classrooms for a quality education.

 

It is said that our brain is a social organ and it requires continuous stimulation and connection to survive and thrive. If not, a brain will not have sufficient challenge, therefore shrink and eventually stop functioning. The ultimate power of learning is achieved when we have the enthusiasm to present ourselves with answers to why and what. I call this kind of learning ‘Find Learning’. The moment we start exploring varied approaches to understand subjects, we tend to give a cognitive approach and eventually find relevant information to store in our brain for a long time. This helps solve the question of why and what throughout life. Varied learning techniques have emerged into the world of education today. One of those learning techniques I encourage in my classroom to make it more recreational is a Mnemonic based style.

What exactly is a mnemonic?

Mnemonic is an aid to remembering facts or large amounts of information in the form of a song, story, poem, phrase, image, acronym or sentence.

Why a Mnemonic based approach in a classroom environment?

Mnemonic based approach can help learners enjoy the journey of their education. From tricky spelling words to names of scientists, a mnemonic based approach can crack it open. Studies show that spelling learning strategies can make wonders in a student’s educational life. After all, the best way to encourage love is to provide learners with well built opportunities where they tend to pave a path for themselves. This approach has the potential to connect the dots and helps enhance the memory of students with important information.

How can we imbibe this tack in our teaching routine?

Learners deal with challenging words and ideas which tend to make them feel burdened. There are topics which make our learners go bewildered or sometimes strenuous. Also, there are some words where learners struggle to learn the spellings. A mnemonic based approach can be of use in those situations. All we have to do is set up a phrase or a sentence with the first letter of every word or first letter of each category. Mnemonics can be developed by teachers or have learners come up on their own. While using this strategy, teachers must model it first and undergo steps of explanation before learners can use it independently. Provide students with multiple opportunities to create and give remedial feedback.

Take a look at the following example from one of the concepts in my subject, Business Studies:

Topic: Features of Business Environment-

  1. Totality of external forces
  2. General and specific forces
  3. Interrelatedness
  4. Complexity
  5. Dynamic
  6. Uncertainty
  7. Relativity

First letters of each sentence above represents a category and they are, T,G,I,C,D,U,R

Mnemonic could be: That Girl In Court Damaged Umpire’s Radio.

Let us try it out with some challenging words and general categories as well:

  • AtheistA Trainer Has Enthusiasm In Showing a Treadmill
  • IronicIn Rush Of Nails In Chair
  • PharaohPink Hall, A Rose And Orange Hat
  • DoesDaughter Only Eats Sushi
  • 9 Planets in the right order (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) – My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets
  • ArithmeticA Rabbit In Their Home Might Eat The Italian Carrot

Fun, isn’t it?

To help learners remember the order or command terms of a specific topic, this technique can be utilised. Irrespective of a subject, mnemonics can be applied to anything which needs aid to remember and understand better.  While we cannot replace regular learning patterns, we can create fun based approaches where learners can enjoy what they are doing and retain more information. Mnemonics are so interesting and help learners remember so many things under the Sun.

Conclusion:

This is one of the techniques that can be applied, however, as educators and learners we all are free to explore varied ways of learning and foster growth within and around us. When we start training learners’ brains to be their clover leaf, they tend to empower themselves with the true nature of education which is the joy of learning. Joy and learning must always go hand in hand. Bear in mind that today’s world is aspiring for individuals who have creative and dynamic skill sets. So, let us teach and seek pleasure and reward from creatively healthy pursuits for a sustainable future.

I always conclude on a tender note about sustainable education which I follow in my teaching routine. One of the UNESCO’s prominent themes that has taken the frame in my world of teaching is ‘Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)’. According to the theme, ESD empowers learners of all ages with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to address the interconnected global challenges we are facing, including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality. Teaching and learning are always in the same boat. At the end of the day teaching that focuses on outcome will result in a learning that gives a 360-degree view of what, where and how we are. I believe that my teaching should always prepare learners not just to submit an answer script for a score but to be in a position to unveil and decipher the real world’s challenging state of affairs. Education must cause a marked change and allow intelligence to make informed decisions. It must replicate a collective action to recast our society. We as teachers can bridge the gap between a theoretical space and a practical world by creating and implementing our tailor-made approaches towards sustainable education in every session irrespective of the subject chosen. Happy teaching and learning!

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