Shalini Jaiswal, Director Academics, Maple Bear South Asia

Responsible for the implementation of the Maple Bear program (preschool and elementary) in existing Maple Bear schools in South Asia region and also in setting up of new centres, Shalini began her career by teaching in Delhi Public School. From being the Primary teacher section in charge in Chinmaya Vidyalaya she moved on to be in the core team for developing and implementing experiential learning modules in the classes. Today, she is also responsible for developing and implementing the ECE teacher training program in India. Shalini graduated from Mumbai University and was the winner of The Foundation Principal Galby Gold Medal (1989) of the University of Bombay and Lotus Foundation Prize (1989) of the University of Bombay. After her post-graduation in Textile Chemistry, she did her bachelor’s in education from CCS University, Meerut

Current 21st-century literature indicates that our future citizens need to be multi-literate, creative and innovative (Shifting Minds. 2012:4). Learning is a complex system of interactive processes. There is no recipe. Global research in learning has identified competencies our youth will require for success in the modern world of ever-increasing change. Writing, speaking, and computing are just a few of the necessary skills for students. Leadership skills, cooperation techniques and analysis are also important ingredients for student success. Confidence in speaking, discussion, debate, writing, and problem solving provide a good start to providing a foundation for acquiring the skills.

School curriculum should incorporate strategies that require higher-level thinking skills such as inference, prediction, analysis and critical thinking. With the use of critical thinking strategies, students develop skills such as reasoning, questioning and investigating, observing and describing, comparing and connecting, finding complexity, and exploring viewpoints. Problem solving is an important element of all content areas.

The elementary years are a time when students begin to develop their academic self-concepts and their feelings of competence and confidence as learners. They are beginning to develop decision making communication and life skills as well as character values. The knowledge, attitudes and skills that students acquire in the areas of academic, career and personal/social development during these elementary years serve as the foundation for future success in their school and community and prepare them to be effective global citizens.

It is important that children should be taught to access information and activate prior information. Teachers should assist students in making personal connections and making meaning of the new material and integrating these learning with what they already know. Facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills to real-life situations is important. Children should be encouraged to think and ask questions when they don’t understand. Developing personal goals and assisting them in the achievement of these goals. Teaching and instilling the value of routines and schedules and the importance of following them. Teaching students to work cooperatively, reflect on their classroom experiences and share them with peers’ teachers and parents.

Placing more responsibilities on students as they mature is important. These responsibilities include leadership roles in school, student voice, higher-level thinking skills and greater control over personal and academic goal setting.

The educators are not only responsible for the academic achievement of their students, but are also caregivers, who provide nurturing, positive relationships to the students. Educators need to engage students fully in the learning process (Parsons and Taylor 2011). The curriculum should emphasize on relevance of the learning to the students. Activity-based learning is often project-based and/or performance-based giving purpose to the work of the students.

To help children with life skills schools should believe in a “growth mindset”. When the school inculcates this as a practice child start to enjoy learning. They understand that progress takes time and they keep trying until they succeed. This helps them achieve success in any area as they grow. The students don’t hesitate to ask for help, they are ready to put efforts and love taking new challenges. The children are no more afraid of failures and view mistakes as opportunities.

Students, as individuals and global citizens, are required to make decisions, and increasingly, the types of issues they face demand an ability to apply scientific processes and products. The decision-making process involves identifying the issue, gathering data, generating possible courses of action, evaluating alternatives, and making a thoughtful decision based on the information available. Students should be actively involved in decision-making situations as they progress through their education.

Confidence in speaking, discussion, debate, writing, and problem solving provide a good start to providing a foundation for acquiring the skills. Students become independent in their own learning, where teachers assume the role of facilitators, guiding them through their learning process.

Emphasis should be on the relevance of the learning to the students. Activity-based learning is often project-based and/or performance-based giving purpose to the work of the students. The curriculum should be based on making connections, constructing knowledge by building on prior knowledge and involving students in meaningful tasks that relate to real life. By involving children in projects, they are practising their organizational, collaborative and time management skills.

The primary hope of education is that the learner will acquire knowledge, understand what has been acquired and make informed decisions in the application of that knowledge to solve problems. The process necessitates thinking. Thinking is the contextual connection between the relevant pieces of knowledge; thinking connects the dots. With reading and writing, if the learner is unable to make connections between the content and their life, the content loses meaning.

Questions are the root cause for a lot of innovations of the twentieth century. According to Berger, questions are a method of survival, not just fanciful innovation. Berger & Johnston argue that ambiguity breeds “a certain level of productive chaos”. They also stress that our world is going to get more ambiguous in the coming years. As open-ended questions and situations require innovative problem-solving strategies, a little bit of ambiguity can make for a more thoughtful environment in which t work. Schools should provide an environment where students can develop the ability to see relationships between subjects, content and skills as well as between school and life outside of the classroom.

It is very important for children to be prepared for ever-changing future. In today’s world things are changing at a very fast pace. To be able to adapt to new situations, work collaboratively, think out of the box, use failures as learning milestones are important skills the learners should have to succeed in future.

 

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