Motivate teachers to perform better

Motivate teachers to perform better

During and after the 20th century we witnessed technological revolutions and digital revolutions. Multi-national companies and capitalists from all...

During and after the 20th century we witnessed technological revolutions and digital revolutions. Multi-national companies and capitalists from all over the world reaped rich dividends using them to their own advantage. Though the education sector was initially considered not worthy of their attention since the margins, they thought, could not be higher enough to woo them, after conquering one sector after the other, they intervened in the educational sector also. As a result, the school system which has been resistant to change faced unexpected challenges from several quarters. Now the situation appears to be daunting and increasingly demoralising. New challenges are emerging in political, social and economic spheres.

The assumptions that we previously held dear to our hearts and everything that follows from them now become either false or outdated.

The first assumptions that new challenges, the way we approach public education, are made are that higher expectation and accountability testing are the keys to ensure that students are learning what they need in order to be successful in life. So, all these years we subjected students, batch after batch, to rigorous training to ensure success in standardised tests. We equated success in standardised test to acquisition of education itself.

Focusing on standards and accountability testing might have produced some short-term gains, but have definitely undermined the thinking capacity and curiosity of the students and fundamentally killed the spirit of education, instead of upgrading it. Today we turn out students who vomit what we teach. The originality of the student and his creative thinking has vanished. Owing to undue stress on the standardised testing pattern and relating success only in terms of those results, education has been brought to a disastrous state.

The second assumption is that if we focus on and improve the areas of weaknesses in both teachers and students, it becomes a key ingredient in making them more successful. Hence we have been putting our efforts in fixing the weaknesses, overlooking their strengths. The very basis of this assumption goes against the fundamental principle of education. We wasted our energies on resources in fixing the weaknesses.

What we do in politics or business can never be correct in education. We have to focus on the inherent strengths of students and strive hard in bringing out the latent capacities. If we bank more on their strengths rather than on weaknesses, it definitely raises the performance of students. A student hitherto diffident can open himself up with the reassuring touch of a teacher on his strengths.

The third assumption was selecting and developing teachers and administrators on the basis of their knowledge and skills, for it was considered as a reliable way to promote success in students. This assumption suggests that learning requisite knowledge and skills should make teachers successful. Simply knowing a lot about the subject does not guarantee that it will be effectively transmitted to students. This assumption identifies a necessary standard for teacher, but not a sufficient one.

Knowledge of a subject and understanding of useful teaching methods should be minimal qualifications to stand in front of the students. This critical element is missing from the usual criteria for highly qualified teachers. We have introduced more tests than one to identify highly qualified teachers but taken minimum measures to improve learning by students.

The fourth assumption is that there exists a perfect curriculum that helps solve student achievement problems in a way that works for all students and teachers. It means that if the right content is delivered with right methodology, students will learn at higher levels every time. In way we want to make our classrooms "teacher proof". In other words, we have neglected the teacher component and made plans to ensure that all students learn in the way with the same information. Heavy investments are made to prepare packages of learning. In this process, schools have seen disruptive changes with little substance to improve.

Many teachers have been left with the impression that their jobs are seen as assembly-line work. This assumption is so dangerous that it overlooks the differences in the work place, culture and economic standards of students and schools. Such an assumption might work for business but not for education. The more the teacher is motivated the better his performance with the students.

The last assumption is that the school can do little to ensure parents' commitment to their children's education. In fact, parent-teacher communication has greater impact than what we now think of. Schools can do a better job by a two-way dialogue that involves parents in helping their children succeed in their efforts. Most students are first learners and parents are not aware of the need of support to their kids. But we, as educated people, could provide counsellors in school.

This aspect has been very much neglected and parents are tempted to keep their children in hostels at faraway places from their native places. This has led to a psychological effect on students. The nearer a parent is to the child the better his education will be.

By removing children from their social milieu we leave permanent scars on their personality. It is high time we took suitable measures and put our education system on the right path. Let us not create a generation that contents itself with parrot-like repetition. Let us not forget that our students played a significant role in creating new knowledge that has kept up the spirit of education.

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