Dr. Karnica Vyas, pursued her doctoral research on the topic of ‘Brain-based learning’ i.e. how and in what condition our human brain learns best. She is currently working as an Academic Coordinator in Symbiosis Schools Central Directorate, Symbiosis, Pune, looking after the qualitative academic upliftment of 7 Symbiosis schools, catering to different educational boards across Maharashtra. As a passionate teacher educator and enthusiastic researcher, she always strives hardest to make the classroom a joyful place of teaching and learning. For the same, so far, she has imparted dozens of trainings and workshops for the teachers as well as students on different pedagogical methods and learning strategies to make learning a meaningful and purposeful business.
Last few years served as an excellent recipe for bringing the transformation in education. On one hand, pandemic acted as a blessing in disguise and has completely overhauled the contemporary education system and practices. While on the other hand, NEP 2020 is strongly advocating the student centric educational reforms. Amongst all of it, one common ingredient throughout is the wish and hope for the children of the Nation to be happy, to flourish and to realise their true potential. Apart from all other latest pedagogical reformations and technological interventions, extending a positive learning experience is the heart of anything you do in the classroom. However, it can only be created when pedagogical practices are targeted towards the development of positive cognition, positive emotions and giving overall positive experiences.
Now the major question arises how exactly positive learning in a classroom looks like or how positive education can be extended in the schools. Martin Seligman (2000) from University of Pennsylvania, propounded Positive psychology and its amalgamation into education in order to create a positive learning environment in the classroom is being noteworthy. Following are the major elements which are found to be critical for imparting Positive education in the classrooms.
- Positive Emotions: A classroom should be an epicentre of positive emotions. Any teaching and learning methodology implied in the classroom should gravitates towards creating the emotion of joy, gratitude, curiosity, interest, hope, amusement, inspiration, pride etc. Creating positive emotion in the classroom are important because it helps in developing a physically and emotionally safe environment for children by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol and increasing feel good chemical messengers in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin. Human brain is wired in a way that it is receptive to new learning only after the brain receives the message of feeling safe and secure. Therefore, teachers should emphasize on boosting positive learning experience by knowing and connecting with students’ interests, greeting every student, helping students developing a growth mind set by stating your clear expectations, talking about your growth oriented belief system, using humour while teaching, asking students to journal down every day’s learning, focusing on small things which can uplift the mood, for e.g. singing songs or conducting ice breaking, cross lateral exercises can help in developing positive emotions in the classroom.
- Engagement: Teaching and learning in a classroom should always be emphasized in a way that it can extend an absolutely engaging environment where students are fully absorbed in doing such activities which challenge them and at the same time utilise their potential to its maximum. Apart from hands-on-activities even a good and thoughtfully asked questions can also lead to a fruitful engagement in the classroom. Now when I say good question, then what does it mean? A good question cannot be answered just by a Yes-No response, a question is considered to be good, when it can arise the curiosity or can lead the children to think laterally, introducing the topic with ‘I wonder’ questions or prompting students to craft their own ‘I wonder’ questions. Such strategies may not only improve students’ engagement but also helps in building up scientific temper.
- Positive Relationship: For developing the positive learning experiences in the classroom, it is really important to build positive relationship between teacher and students and amongst peers too. Positive relationships are the foundation for learning success. Yet this part is generally neglected by teachers to take the time to learn about their students as an individual. In the absence of positive relationships in the classrooms it can create barrier to learning and can make even small interactions challenging to handle. There can be various ways to develop positive relationship in the classroom for e.g. finding small ways to connect with students or allowing students themselves to connect with each other, focusing on the respective strengths, sharing admiration and appreciation, sharing your own struggle and how you cope up the situation, going on excursions, camps and involving in other group activities. Simply listening can also act as the best way of winning the trust of the children and develops positive relationship. This is important as it helps not only in motivating the children but also correcting the students’ behaviour.
- Extending Meaning/Purpose: As per Neuroscience, the human brain receiving tons of information every day from all around, can store only that information in its long term memory which makes meaning and sense to it or gives a purpose to go ahead. Rest of the information which doesn’t make any meaning stores only in the short term memory and drops out of the system after a while. Teacher should focus on such pedagogies which can help in extending the meaning or purpose to whatever has been taught. For e.g. Involving children in Project based learning, cooperative learning, involving children in various skills based courses, organizing competitions at different levels, giving opportunity to participate in various community events etc. All such initiatives can help in extending the meaning to whatever has been taught and gives a sense of purpose to education.
- Accomplishment: Facing challenges and obstacles are important part of a child’s growth and development. When the children face challenges and overcome them with victory irrespective of how big or small is the success. Celebrating accomplishments is extremely essential in the growth of a child. This helps in not only building up positive self-esteem, but also motivates them to continue working towards their goals. Teachers should celebrate the little or big accomplishments of children by rewarding them in the most appropriate way, displaying their achievements, sharing achievements with fellow teachers in the school or friends and family.
There is a vast difference between schooling and education, where the former enables an opportunity for children to realise their full potential and ability, however the later one enable people to live well in a world worth living. Positive education uses science of positive psychology in schools. Positive education allows students to imbibe the qualitative aspects of growth mind-set and capitalising on their strengths rather than weaknesses, which ultimately leads to develop an optimum level of well-being. Any education which can extends the opportunity of knowing and understanding your own self, feeling and doing good, helping others, participating constructively towards society, all together can create a powerful education experience, which is a dire need of the hour.