Rajiv Bansal, Director-Operations, Global Indian International School (GIIS) India

Rajiv is a Business Leader with over 25 years of experience in Education industry in India, APAC, Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean, across the continuum of Skill Development, Employability and K-12 segments. In his current role as Director-Operations at GIIS, Rajiv is responsible for business development, overseeing all operational matters related to infrastructure, academics, affiliation, compliances, recruitment & training, finances and driving the profitability & growth agenda of GIIS’s School business in India. In his past engagements with Aptech, NIIT, Pearson & HCL he has managed P&L, created products & services, set up distribution channels and leveraged technology for education delivery. While at NIIT, Rajiv executed large and complex projects, notably in setting up IT centres of excellence in Latin America & the Caribbean, which required working closely with various government bodies, diplomats and academic institutions on either side. Rajiv holds a B.E. degree and Exec-PGDM as his qualifications.

 

The education system of any country is the foundation on which the character and personality of its citizens are built. Ancient Indian education system has been recognised as one of the most robust and inclusive systems in the history of world education. It had a fine balance of curricula and teaching methodologies that were holistic, flexible, and multidisciplinary in nature. Over time, as Indian society evolved, financial and economic stability became the yardstick of individual success. For this reason, education in India became academically oriented and we started celebrating doctors, engineers, and management graduates a little more than sportspeople, musicians, authors, or artists. But the Indian education system is at the cusp of change and the New Education Policy 2020 promises to bring back the holistic learning approach.

Progressive Indian schools are going back to their roots and amalgamating the time-tested and proven ways of teaching with new-age technology to introduce innovative and futuristic practices. These practices will not only improve student engagement and experience but will help them retain and apply knowledge better. Some such practices include: 

Experiential learning to enhance engagement

There is enough academic research, scholarly work, and practical experiment to prove that experiential learning leads to better retention of the subject matter. When one works with a concept and experiences the whole cycle of reasoning first-hand, not only is the learning holistic and sharper, but it also stays with them for longer. Most of us remember observing a seed’s sprout cycle well as we apply that learning in day-to-day life, similarly we recall seeing the cheek cell or onion cell under the microscope in the biology lab, experiencing rotten egg smell in the chemistry lab, or completing a circuit to light a bulb in the physics lab. But, if we are asked to recite a Hindi poem from 3rd grade, we might not remember it as well because limited senses were involved in that learning experience. Innovative learning methodologies that provoke thought processes and encourage discussions and dialogue like Case study discussions, simulations and role-plays, field trips, debates, etc. are some experiential learning techniques that not only enhance the experience of the students but also help them retain knowledge better.

Creating an environment to promote curiosity

Scientists and researchers suggest that curiosity prepares the human brain for learning and knowledge absorption. Fostering an environment of interactivity and curiosity is extremely imperative for turning our students into thinkers and not just followers. To promote curiosity, it must be embedded in the core of the instructional design of the teaching methodology. Students must be rewarded for thinking aloud and asking questions. These questions can pave the path for mutual discussions and collaborative project work where students join hands and find answers to the questions of their fellow classmates. Constructive questioning and self-reflection also encourage ownership. Most students shy away from taking the lead in a larger group and feel under-confident, clarifying doubts in large gatherings. But, when curiosity is rewarded, they feel comfortable, and this extends a sense of community and teamwork within the class. Therefore, curiosity not only contributes to enhanced subject matter learning but also impacts the personality development of the students positively.

Metacognitive strategies

Metacognition refers to awareness of one’s own knowledge. Metacognitive ability helps us with effective self-reflection to understand and realise what we know, what we do not know and therefore identify the learning gaps we wish to work on. It is one’s ability to understand, control, and work on one’s cognitive processes. Metacognition can be taught using certainly evolved teaching methodologies and this skill can be honed with practice over time. If the students are given an opportunity to plan, organise, monitor and course-correct their own work with limited intervention or instruction, they develop a sense of ownership. With the right amount of time and space, they become aware of the knowledge they possess, and their ability to think, reflect and spot the gap areas grows over time. Metacognition is an immensely relevant and useful quality to develop in this age of over information.

Embracing and applying technology

In recent times, technology has proven to be a boon in ensuring continuity of teaching and learning. Virtual classes have become a modern-day reality and it is not limited just to urban progressive new age schools but becoming a bridge to plug learning gaps across the board. While one end of the spectrum is virtual learning as a make-shift arrangement until free physical mobility becomes a reality again. The other aspect of technology inclusion is for enhancing the in-classroom or school campus teaching experience when life gets back to normal. From gaming-based learning to customising learner profiles, to project-based learning, to multimedia resources to offering global exposure, technology is the backbone of modern learning. Be it learning to code and create applications or experimenting at robotics labs, technology integration is becoming the core of progressive learning system and it is about time we celebrate and embrace this inclusion.

Freedom with a sense of purpose

While syllabus, curriculum, academic rigour, arts, culture, sports, music, and more can build an individual’s personality, the true testimony of a successful individual is his/ her strength of character. It is imperative to inculcate in a student, sense of responsibility, purpose, and the value of giving back to society. For this, it is crucial that an institution leads by example and instils strong values and ethics in its students. Teaching the value of being humane and laying equal emphasis on personality and character development is as crucial as adopting dynamic teaching methodologies and including modern learning.

Teaching is a highly responsible job as it shapes the future of an individual, the society, and the nation at large. The process is dynamic in nature and evolves over time. From the academic curriculum to the syllabus and the teaching methodologies, everything needs a close review for it to remain relevant with the changing times. Having said that, one aspect that never changes in this dynamic environment, is the relationship between a teacher and the student. Based on mutual love, trust, and respect this is one of the most valued relationships in a student’s life cycle and teacher’s learning curve and it should remain that way.

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