Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra
A Conceptual note on Curriculum Revision for Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra, Shivanahalli
Education is in a state of flux in our country. People from all walks of life have taken cognizance of the need to change the system. Schools have failed to equip children adequately for life. Although 'wholistic education is being bandied about for quite a long time as the goal of school education, the reality is different. Adequate time and opportunities are not given to children for meaningful understanding of the content they learn, leave alone developing non-cognitive abilities. However, the scenario is poised for a change in the near future. Networking and dissemination of information by committed individuals and organizations have helped identify best practices across the country. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme of the Government of India, and earlier the District Primary Education Programme have brought about tremendous quantitative and to a lesser extent qualitative improvements in Government schools.
There have always many pockets of excellence among private schools. The Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra (SRVK), Shivanahalli is one such school. Run by the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, it caters to children of villages in and around Shivanahalli, a small hamlet near Bangalore. The medium of instruction is Kannada and the school runs classes from Nursery to class 7. For the past six years, the school has been following the Man Making and Character Building (MMCB) Curriculum, compiled by Late Dr. T.K. Jayalakshmi. The curriculum is based on Swami Vivekananda's philosophy and the content for subject knowledge is drawn from the Karnataka State Syllabus. The focus of the MMCB curriculum is activity based teaching and contextual learning. Its aim is to produce morally upright, emotionally stable and intelligent individuals. Accompanying textbooks have been prepared for classes 3 to 6. There are no textbooks for classes 1 and 2 while students of class 7 use textbooks prepared by the State Government.
The Present Revision
Curriculum development is a dynamic process. Periodic revisions are essential, if it is to remain meaningful. While this has been our primary motive for undertaking the current revision, previous experiences of major stake holders of SRVK school have pinpointed the following lacunae in the existing curricula:
1. Integration of values with subject teaching did not happen as envisaged.
2. Although every effort had been taken to develop a spiral curriculum, there are gaps in the subject content covered.
3. Teachers and students have become slavish to textbooks.
To overcome them, values have been listed along with learning outcomes across all subject areas. In the next stage, we shall help each subject teacher plan activities to inculcate these values.
In order to reduce gaps in the subject content of Mathematics and Science, we have attempted to map out the National Curriculum Framework's (NCF) Syllabus for Classes at the Elementary Level (NCERT, New Delhi 2006) along with American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) Benchmarks for Science Literacy (Oxford University Press, New York; 1993), National Research Council's National Science Education Standards (National Academy Press, Washington DC; 1996), and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' (NCTM) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, USA; 1989).
To rule out excessive dependence on textbooks, we are experimenting with doing away with textbooks altogether. Instead, workbooks would be prepared for children. The workbooks would contain a variety of activities, exercises and worksheets.
"We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet" - Swami Vivekananda. The aim of the curriculum is to attain Swamiji's vision for ALL children leaving school at the end of class 7.
The present curriculum has been developed for Classes 1 to 7. It has been structured under the following areas of study:
- Environmental Science (up to class 3)
- Science (from class 4 onwards)
- Social Science (From class 4 onwards) Curriculum is yet to be developed for the following:
- Information and communication technology
- Art and Craft
- Physical Education
Although curriculum is being structured across classes, under different areas, the focus would be on integration of learning experiences provided.
Teaching / Learning Process
We work by the dictum that every learning experience at school must be meaningful and the teacher should constantly strive to satiate children's innate curiosity and need to learn. The focus of the teaching / learning process would be construction of knowledge through an inquiry based approach. Accordingly, for every unit, a variety of activities and projects that are pedagogically and psychologically appropriate for every child, would be developed along with the teachers of the school. Resources for the activities would be drawn from the surroundings. In addition, teaching/learning materials would be provided where necessary. Also, the school is equipped with an excellent collection of resource materials, both in the print and digital form.
Flexibility in planning and time allocation would be provided to all teachers. This is to enable them both to organize activities as well as to improvise upon them, depending on their children's requirements.
Assessments would be part of the teaching learning process, at every stage. Assessment tasks and criteria for assessment would be developed along with planning for activities. These assessment tasks would be given at three stages for every unit of study:
- Prior to instruction of the unit to identify children's initial understanding and abilities
- During teaching of a unit both to inform teaching / learning process and to monitor children's progress.
- At the end of a unit, to assess if students have attained the learning outcomes expected of them.
In addition to performance and outcomes-based assessment, assessment of values and attitudes would be an integral process to the assessment procedure.
Steps are on to put in place a monitoring and evaluation team, while implementing the revised curriculum from the coming academic year onwards (2007-08). Careful documentation and action research would be integral to implementation. We plan to take up yearly revisions, based on stakeholders' feed back.
We solicit opinions and suggestions on the revised curriculum as well as the syllabus.
For the past 4 years we are trying to formulate Value based Conceptual curriculum for standard 1 to standard 7. We are happy to say that our efforts are producing good results. We would like to spread this to other rural schools too. In this effort, many educationalists like Dr. Mythali, Smt. Brinda Rao and others are helping us. All our teachers are putting their efforts to make this venture a success.
On a trial basis 1 whole month as a project period. Classes 4th - 7th learnt all the lessons through well designed projects. The results were very good. For more details contact us.
To provide all students with a value integrated quality education
To strive among students for:
- Value integration
- Development of multiple intelligences
- Life skills development
- To integrate values through subject based teaching
- To inculcate values through the school environment
- To nurture multiple intelligences in children
- To equip children with adequate and relevant life skills
- To provide opportunities for teachers to grow professionally
Accreditation from QCI
Dr. A. S. Chandrashekharn and Shri N. P. Murali from QCI (Quality Council of India) Delhi came for the final assesment. They were very happy to see the working of the school and gave suggestions for improving the documentation of the school. They attended the prayer meeting, visited the classes, library, laboratory, games field etc. They interacted with the children, parents, teachers and kitchen staff. They orally informed us that they will recommend our school for accreditation. The formal accreditation will come in 15 days time. The school will be first in many aspects including:
- The first rural school to get accreditation in whole of India.
Value oriented education of primary school children has several challenges - including the fact that the teachers involved shoud be the best practitioners of the values themselves. The ideal teacher cannot be found easily. Is there something that can be done to help out the students to get quality education? Value oriented Computer Aided Instruction (VOCAI) is the answer.
Project Shikshna seeks to help the school teachers deliver better by augmenting the instructional process with computers - more so stressing on the value orientation to the computer aided instruction. The design and implemntation follow the open source philosophy so that rural primary school students with minimal and appropriate computer facilities can use this package to learn about a variety of topics and augment class room learning.
We are very happy that "YOUTH FOR SEVA" has come forward to join us. We are very actively planning to spread this Shikshana to other rural schools from the next academic year. Join us in our noble venture.
For further details, contact: