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Innovative Practices in Education Essay

Introduction

The word ‘innovation’ is derived from Latin word ‘innovare’, which means “to change something to new”. In other words, we may say that ‘innovation’ means changing the regular way of doing things and involves doing the regular things in a novel way. The role of a teacher in present context has remarkably changed because of the various factors such as social, cultural, economic and technology developments across the globe. “Teachers in today’s era must be innovative, imaginative, and resourceful and have thorough knowledge of the subject and adopt new techniques to teach innovatively.”

J. Krishnamurthy1 Teaching, in the KRISHNAMURTHI FOUNDATION INDIA (KFI) schools as opposed to other regular schools was said to be “different” and hence the researcher picked up these schools to study what and how “innovatively” the students are taught. KFI schools come under the genre of “alternative schools.” “An alternative school is an educational setting designed to accommodate educational, behavioral, and/or medical needs of children and adolescents that cannot be adequately addressed in a traditional school environment.”2 Its unique features are as follows:

•Alternative schools have a small number of students, maximum 200 in the entire school .
•Not more than 15-25 kids in a class
•Children are allowed to learn the basic skills of reading and writing at their own pace.
•There is little or no internal hierarchy in alternative schools. •Excellent teacher pupil relationship .

•Family atmosphere
•There is an inherent spirit of cooperation with self discipline.
•Uniqueness of each child is nurtured.
•The ambience is essentially fluid and informal.
•There is no uniform.

“KFI schools are not just about transference of ideas or facts in books, but is also about feeling the earth, watching the sunset, listening to the birds, seeing the colours of the leaves change in the different seasons and observing nature in its many colours, forms and shapes, in reality and this has shaped the entire structure of the school based on the ideology of Jiddu Krishnamurthy.”3 Methodology of the Study

•Normative survey along with participant observation was used in the present research as it was a qualitative research .
•Qualitative research seeks out the ‘why’, not the ‘how’ of the topic.3( Yang.W.E, 1997) Data Collection Tools

Actual visit to the school and interaction with the teacher, students and principals through interview and questionnaire techniques and actual participation in school activities. The tools used were:

•Interview
•Participant Observation
•Document analysis

Learning the KFI way……… a few insights

Classes are not only about completing the content but also about understanding the content; with this core understanding every teacher at the school determines to use innovative teaching practices in classroom teaching. The term “innovative” is used to describe the combination of the three teaching practices in these schools •Student centered pedagogy

• Taking the learning beyond the classroom
•Giving importance to personal relationships apart from the academic subject matter. These learning environments strive to cultivate a sense of community and belonging, and qualities of safety, respect, caring, and even love amongst the students .The term “innovative” in the context of this research describes combining these practices with technology i.e use of ICT( information communication technology ) in class room teaching. Student-centered pedagogy includes practices of teaching and learning that are project-based, collaborative, foster knowledge-building, require self-regulation and assessment, and are both personalized (allowing for student choice and relevance to the individual student) as well as individualized (allowing students to work at their own pace) and according to their particular learning needs. Each of these elements has a strong base of prior research, linking them to positive outcomes in terms of developing skills among students.4 Hence these are techniques in which they learn to think for themselves, and develop the ability to make clear logical arguments, and deal with complex ethical issues.Students enjoy total intellectual freedom, and unfettered interaction with other students and adults.

1. Autonomous learning is a unique innovative technique which is actively implemented in the academic transaction process. It implies gradual switch from traditional teacher-centered studies to a self-learning process, when students are placed in such conditions where they are to employ their critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills in addition to the problem-solving skills that will make them experts on a subject studied through project- work, group work etc. For Example- A project on garbage disposal in class V was given to make them learn about environment and sustainability.

2. Cooperative learning directed towards focusing on students’ team work while doing their project assignments.

3. Task-based approach to learning, which requires using learning situations and tasks that do not make students merely reproduce the knowledge acquired, but also stimulate their creativity in order to find new original answers to unconventional tasks. For example- growing flowers in the school compound to teach students of class VII, about seasonal flowers, types of soil and usage of organic fertilisers. Another e.g- Selling organic compost and making money running a small business annually for class X th students to teach them about selling and profit in economics.

4. Moving outside the class – This teaching practice refers to learning activities that include learning in nature and beyond the traditional boundaries of the classroom, and also by providing opportunities for 24/7 learning (for example, research outside the classroom), fostering cross-subject connections, and promoting global awareness and cultural understanding. For example – seeing the actual working of a venus-fly trap plant grown in the campus to teach about carnivorous plants.

5. Story- based learning – This method, called ‘story-based learning,’ aims to encourage students to study various core subjects and be curious enough to find the answers by themselves. ‘One reason behind this learning design is to help students to comprehend the variety and interconnectedness of real life and equip them with the right mindset and solutions.’

5 For example- The high-school students learnt a story about spices and ships, which would bring students into studying the history, agriculture, business, politics, culture and international trade of the East India Company in class VIII. 6. Workshops including interactive lectures, presentations, individual assignments, puppet making, independent and self-learning activities during practical classes and seminars, role plays and simulations, case-studies, individual and team projects, holding master-classes and workshops. 7. Extensive use of tape recorder, e-book, graphics, pictures, charts in daily

8. Blogs : A Classroom outside the classroom! Blog is derived from weblog. It is a diary or regular opinion columns posted on the internet. In blog, the writer posts diary entry which others can read and comments on it.

Web-blogging is used in two main ways in teaching. Firstly, students are encouraged to write and post their blogs. If students are learning to write journals or engaged in other form of extensive writing in the classroom, is the right place to check their ability of writing. Secondly, the teacher writes the main blog entries, which students can then comment on. They send assignments or projects to students on the taught topics, by which students can complete the work and send it back to teachers. So the blog encourages teaching outside the classroom.

8. Role playing- For example, while teaching accounts the role of accountant can be explained by role playing technique. Invoice and bills can be given to students and asked them to assume the role of accountant. Here the real entries pertaining to transactions are made by the student and this is more practical approach to teaching where theory is supplemented by proper practical knowledge.

9.Wiki- A wiki is a web based platform for collaborative writing. It is used within a private domain as well as public domain for writing together. The important feature of wikis is particularly used for language learning which is record of all drafts. Students and teachers work on it collaboratively. An example of a private wiki used for language learning was used in KFI school-based project to produce a school newsletter for parents within the public domain. Students can be asked to be collaborative as class to produce a Wikipedia entry because such projects help to promote team-spirit and increase motivation, empower students to construct knowledge, and enable them to learn new things in an interesting, stress-free way. To keep up with the educational expectations of today’s youth, we’re called on to use innovative teaching techniques.

Where resources and training programs aren’t available to keep pace with our growing technological expansion, methods must be developed and used that involve active learning without depending on high technology. Simulations, games, and role playing are viable alternatives for learning about and experiencing real-life situations. 10. Innovative evaluation- the 360 0 approach- Teacher’s report- Students’ progress is assessed systematically and continuously. Evaluation is comprehensive, non-comparative and points to possibilities for growth are given to each and every student. Parents receive reports twice a year. Parent’s report- However, in the month of September parents send a report to school on their children based on the observation made at home.

How he/she behaves at home, his/her eating habits, behaviour with siblings etc …anything extra that the parent wants to tell is also welcomed. This report facilitates a joint awareness and understanding of the child by the school and home. Students take formal examinations from class VIII onwards and all the teachers seem to support it completely because they feel students have to take the public examinations at the end of Tenth and Twelfth standard. 11. Meditation & assemblies- Every morning there are separate assemblies for the Junior and Senior sections, apart from this every school has “me time” in which the children and the staff sit all by themselves being “in silence” and think about the day ahead.

It is easier said than done to sit in silence for 15 minutes because as Krishnamurthi says, “Only a mind in silence and stability is a mind that can learn anything……….or even teach anything” 4 Hence this meditation time is important for both the kids and the teachers and there is no fixed way of meditation. The only requirement is that one should sit in silence. Sometimes in the evenings guided meditations are also held for the senior students who want to come. It is a voluntary thing and no one is forced to do so. It is an important innovative technique in teaching “self- inquiry” and introspection to the students. There is no punishment system, only talking, counselling and understanding that takes place if someone makes a mistake.

Conclusions

•This holistic education is usually characterized by several core qualities. First, it encourages experiential learning. •Secondly there is more discussion, questioning, experimentation, and active engagement in a holistic learning environment. •Thirdly, personal relationships are considered to be as important as academic subject matter. These learning environments strive to cultivate a sense of community and belonging, and qualities of safety, respect, caring, and even love.

•These innovative techniques are practiced in diverse ways in alternative schools like KFI that provide a carefully designed, multiage “prepared environment” that encourages children to explore ,experiment and learn according to their own pace and interests. •It is possible, however, that these certain universal features of the KFI schools can easily be shared with, and developed by, other schools like the non-formal working environment and child-based, student-centric project aided learning which doesn’t require too much training or infrastructure , just a willingness to experiment and innovate on the part of the teacher.

• In many respects it is like a traditional school; children take board exams, have a curriculum and timetable etc. But what makes them special and effective are the teachers and their passion for teaching, their innovative methods of teaching, the fearless and joyful interaction among teachers and students. •The board results of such schools were better than the regular schools in their area but the stress experienced by the students, teachers and parents was comparatively much less, as what came out from the interviews and observation of the students and data analysis.

Recommendations

From the insights gained in innovative teaching and its impact on the teaching learning process, the researcher would like to make certain recommendations for other schools as well. a.Schools therefore need to emphasize on those aspects of learning which would help children to self-observe and reflect; find ways to search for knowledge instead of memorizing only. b.The project approach in teaching is inter-disciplinary, integrates arts, music, dance, yoga, meditation in the curriculum and leads to collateral learning. c.This is accomplished through evolutionary syllabi that emerge out of the needs of students and can be easily made by the subject teacher and head of the institution. d.The students are independent, responsible and confident of their learning. e.In line with J.Krishnamurthy’s philosophy, teachers lay emphasis on collaborative learning and team work. f.The teacher’s role is that of a facilitator, a generalist. g.The teaching style is informal, participative, democratic and illuminative. h.The teacher is a learner too.

i.Meditation and yoga has definite positive outcomes on the behavior of students and also their ability to learn. Hence it should be encouraged by all schools. j.This holistic and innovative education in KFI schools is usually characterized by experiential learning. k.Secondly there is more discussion, questioning, experimentation, and active engagement in a holistic learning environment leading to overall personality development. l.Thirdly, personal relationships are considered to be as important as academic subject matter. These learning environments strive to cultivate a sense of community and belonging, and qualities of safety, respect, caring, and even love amongst students and teachers.

References :

1. Bax,S.(2003). The end of old age teaching: A New Approach to Education and Laerning. ELT journal, 57, 278-287. 2. Alternative School, http://www.healthofchildren.com/A/Alternative-School.html#ixzz2BQfZSoIf 3. Martin, Donald W. (1975) “An Analysis of Selected Works of Jiddu
Krishnamurti: Implications for Higher Education” University of Cincinnati, Ohio (U.S.A.), research paper. 4. Gefter, A., “Living online: This is your space,” New Scientist 2569 (2006): 46-48. 5. Gupta Deepti, 2005. ELT in India: A Brief and Current overview, Asian EFL Journal Volume 7. Issue 1, Article 12. Bibliography

1. Nunan David (1991) Communicative tasks and the language curriculum. TESOL, Quarterly 25(2), 279-295. 2. O’Grady, William, Michael Dabrovolsky, and Mark Aronoff. 1993. Contemporary linguistics: An Introduction. New York: St.Martin’s Press. 3. Pahuja N.P. Teaching of English, Anmol Publications Pvt.Ltd, New Delhi 1995. 4. Prensky, M., “ Digital nayives, digital immigrants,” On the Horizon 9.5 (2001). 5. Thelwall, M., “MySpace, Facebook, Bebo: Social networking students,” Association of Learning Technology Online Newsletter 11 (2008). 6. Vyas A. Manish and Patel L. yogesh “Teaching innovatively – A new Pedagogy for a New Century.” PHI Learning Pvt Ltd. New Delhi (200


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