New ways of learning


Consider Raul, a 13-year-old boy who used Scratch to program an interactive game in his after-school center.
He created the graphics and basic actions for the game but didn’t know how to keep score. So when a researcher on our team visited the center, Raul asked him for help. The researcher showed Raul how to create a variable in Scratch, and Raul immediately saw how he could use it for keeping score. He began playing with the blocks for incrementing variables, then reached out and shook the researcher’s hand, saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” The researcher wondered how many eighth-grade algebra teachers get thanked by their students for teaching them about variables? [Source]

I came across above paragraph when I was reading the said paper while preparing a presentation in our weekly lab seminar.

The question that popped up in researcher’s mind is very relevant. I dont remember reaching out to any of my teachers and thanking him for teaching me something. Instead I remember the great disregard I had fore most subjects I was taught. I am not complaining. That was the way education was delivered when I was in elementary school. But I am sure things are changing.

I watched Tare Zameen Par and in the last scene we see Ishan Avasthi running to his teacher and hugging him. Surely there is a lot of personal debt that Ishan felt for his teacher.

छडी वाजे छम छम विद्या येई घम घम was the line we often heard in our childhood. We not only heard it but most of our teachers believed in it and implemented it vehemently. Fortunately my school had teachers that resembled पु ल देशपांडे ‘s चितळे मास्तर and we were not as smart as today’s kids either.

Today there are various ways to learn. In fact we learn a lot more form other sources than the school and teachers. Television, internet, newspapers everywhere the young children are being bombarded with information of different quality. Schools is a place where we have still stuck to the old outdated methods of information exchange. Wouldn’t one hour of Discovery Channel program teach them lot more than what the geography teacher could tell them?

How can a teacher teach children about rainforests when he himself has not seen one ? How can a teacher teach students about French Revolution when he himself has not read a book other than the school textbook on that topic ?

Television certainly has it’s bad effects but we cant really ignore that it is a very effective medium to communicate things. If we can use it in a better way I guess our children can learn a lot more and a lot faster.

SCRATCH is a programming languages for children and non-programmers. You can paint your imagination and animate it very quickly using this visual programming paradigm. Imagination of kids has always surprised me. They come up with amazing things. The gallery there is a testimony to this fact.

I hope in times to come we figure out better and better ways of educating our kids. Hopefully the focus will shift from preparing them for a Rat Race to enabling them to aspire their own ambitions.

2 thoughts on “New ways of learning

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