Sunday, October 11, 2015

Educational Methodologies (Presentation by Subash)

Educational Methodologies (Presentation by Subash)
We use the Glenn Doman method with pre-school children to teach languages.
When we work with children who have dropped out we use the Thematic project methods to increase their awareness and general/subject knowledge. We use the education by design method to help their overall personalities, the audio tape method for learning English. For children who have older than 16 years who want to improve English we use the basic sentence structure methods. We use an English kit we got from Central Institute of English as Foreign language which is a set of 400 word course for learning English supplemented by cards. We use the Rishi valley method with children to help them with self directed learning. Even above all of this we use spiritual methods.  Aruna of Anugriha has already covered the Glenn Doman method in detail. Everyone is familiar with the Rishi valley methods which are used extensively by the Nali Kali programs. I will concentrate on three methods which have not been covered today by other groups – Audio tape method, Education by design method (which is another variation of the Thematic project method) and the Spiritual methods.
Our feeling in Auroville is that school is not the only place for learning. Learning takes place throughout one’s life. We use learning aids to help bring out the child’s learning. Whatever we come across in terms of learning aids – we adapt for our needs. For example – our use of Glenn Doman’s method may be slightly different from Aruna’s use of it at Anugriha. Also the Nali Kali methods we use differently. They do not introduce English till the 5th standard. We start this in the 1st standard itself and to help with this we also use phonic sounds to help the students learn English. Our teachers are trained on an on-going basis. Because of this our teachers are well versed with adapting/creating learning aids based on the needs of the children. This is important since the teacher should be able to adapt/be flexible. For example the Rishi valley method is very flexible and it should be easy for the teacher to adapt this. It is not hard to train teachers to do this. With modern tools including the computer, print outs, Corel Draw etc available we should make it easy to help teachers create their own aids.
Audio tape method is a bi-lingual method which uses the mother tongue and English for learning English. We chose funny stories with a twist at the end with say 30 sentences. Whenever possible we try to choose 7 word sentences. We put this in a tape with English first and then Tamil. At the later stages for 15 sentences or so it is read completely in English. We also give a handout with the written version so the child can see what he reads  correspondingly. This is especially important for rural children who do not have many opportunities for English reading and listening, especially to be able to relate English seeing/reading with what they listen to. This audio-tape method serves this purpose very well. We have prepared 12 stories for senior children and 6 stories for junior ones. After 12 stories the impact of learning through this method is fairly marked and not common in rural areas. The children learn to speak very spontaneously. I will now let Lourdes who was part of making this describe how we came up with this method.
[ Lourdes then described how this method was first implemented.]
Five years ago a man called Richard from Greece visited our schools and stayed with us for a week. I was then working with small children (third level students). He said he can help teach English. He described the audio tape method and we then recorded stories with him speaking with English and I speaking in Tamil.  We initially did this paragraph by paragraph. The faster learners picked this up somewhat. After he left we extended this work and improvised it to make it line by line learning. We added games and more stories.
We were later contacted by another group and also from the government side to see if this can be implemented in other schools. Teachers came to our school and we recorded games and other activities using this method. We then visited them and ensured that the method was learnt well. We divided the teachers into 8 groups and taught the group leaders who in turn trained others. The audio tape method also really works well for children who can read and write English but not speak it. There were 45 students in the class room and they were divided into 8 groups. All the children learnt all the words, learnt verbs and even grammar. The children could relate the stories in both English and Tamil. We have gone to schools, taken stories from their text books and then trained the teachers. The children then learn from the tapes. The children are taught responsibility of how to handle the tapes carefully.
The next method I would like to touch upon is education by design method. This method has great potential. It can be applied in infinite number of ways. Students do not learn subjects as separate units. They learn in an integrated manner. They are given challenges or problems and find answers for these. This morning some groups described how social issues are integrated into their learning kits. These type of social issues can be easily explored using education by design method by posing them as problems. The children come up with suggestions/solutions. The children are not given answers but the process of learning helps explore different aspects. The teacher only comes up with solutions at the end. A constant discussion and frequent interaction with the teacher/children is possible.
An example – a challenge was given to the children like this. “I like Auroville products a lot. Can you help me know what products are available and how I can get these. I have never visited Auroville so I would like to visit and buy these.” The teacher before posing the project determines what skills they should learn through this. The child learns math skills, what is available in Auroville, learns maps and also communication skills. Our school is in the industrial belt of Auroville. There are over 30 units making different things.
The children worked out a plan, divided themselves into groups, learnt about different units of product making by actually finding and visiting these product units. They learnt how the products are made, how much the cost price is, how they are sold etc. They then came up with a list after making a map of what products are made where. They made some products themselves. They made a skit about this. They then added information about Auroville and the geography/map of this. All this was completed in 12 days. All of the initial work was done in Tamil. At the end the challenge was posed to do this in English as well. The children then came up with a timeline and have now extended this project into an English one. A ten page script was prepared and the children are now learning this using the audio-tape method. These children are first generation learners and the learning has now become a game/group activity that is very effective.
A second problem posed was like this – an information exchange program where information on Germany/India was posed. The children had to compare the similarities and contrasts on German and Indian geography, culture, food habits etc. The children created a display/exhibition on this. In the end the children created their own skit comparing the way in which marriages take place in Germany and India. The whole project was a lively one and the children were more and more curious at the end of it. When a child learns in this way it really makes the process joyous. They are more and more interested in exploring more about Germany and continue to do this. It also develops different aspects of their personality. This education for design method has tremendous potential and can be adapted to the Indian context – it can bring out the child’s inner personality very well.
Lastly, I would like to touch the spiritual methods which no one else has touched upon before. I myself am hesitant to describe this because this may be looked at as practicing a religious method. I’d like to talk about the use of spiritual methods for the learning of the children. Typically such methods have been traditionally used to attain the divine. They could include meditation, consecration, prayer, some ceremonies, practice of yoga-asanas, pranayama. They make the mind silent and help identify with the divine. Divine is independent of religion. What we mean by spiritual methods is not these things – it may eventually lead to these things. The methods we are using in our schools are intended to put the student in touch with the creative force that is operating all over the world. This creative force is in everyone in some way or the other. This creative force is what has created everything. If the person can be put in touch with the creative force – the person can be aware of the force helping them. We believe that once the student gets in touch with this force and learns about how the creative force can help everything he can learn that the force is supporting him. Ultimately he learns that the force is really doing everything for you. When students put their activity in touch with the divine source he sees life supporting him. It helps get past mental barriers. We call this the yogic technique of consecration. When a child starts a new lesson he offers this activity to the creative divine force. We find that his use of the activity becomes clearer. Life supports his decision in an unexpected way. We haven’t really started using this technique with all students. Some of our teachers have been practicing this for their own purpose. The teachers have done this in their desire for self improvement in academic matters and personal life. In the course of 8 months we found a lot of improvement in their togetherness. We have found that their harmonies have increased.  They have all experienced that their goals are getting achieved as well by following this in a focused manner. In the month of February we will be starting these with some of the students as well.
[Ques]In the teaching English using audio-tape method – is the teacher required? The biggest problem I have seen in many Asha schools with respect to English is that the teachers themselves do not know English.
[Ans] The teacher is needed, tapes are needed. There are many many problems with teaching English. English is a second language, they do not listen to it often in a coherent manner. Most rural children find it difficult to read English on their own. No one is taught phonics in the proper way. This process makes it easier for both the teachers and the children.
 [Ques]  This can be used for any two languages right?
[Ans] Yes, it should be possible. We haven’t however experimented with this for teaching other languages.
 Contact Information
Steve, Subash, Lourdes
Auroville Educational Resource Center
SAIIER, Auroville 605 101
 91-413-623350 (subash), 91-413-623350 (Lourdes)

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