The bow wow story has the ability of creating a lingering memorable impact on most teachers who are passionate about their careers.
A man enters a reputed pet shop. He looks around the shop for a while and is impressed by a cute smart looking puppy. He enquires about it. The owner of the shop confidently says that he has personally trained and taught the puppy to shake hands and say bow wow. He tells the customer that it always obeys all the instructions that it is given. The customer is impressed and takes the puppy home.
A week later he returns to the pet shop angrily. He shouts at the owner and calls him a liar. He insists on returning the puppy and asks him how he can even afford to cheat his customers with all his smooth talk.
The man is unruffled. Full of poise and panache he calmly and coolly says, “Sir, I told you that I personally trained and taught the puppy to shake hands and say bow wow. Is that right?”
“Well – the puppy doesn’t understand anything that I say! It can follow instructions only if it understands them. It doesn’t comprehend a single thing that I say. It doesn’t shake hands or say bow wow at all. It has not been trained at all!”
The owner looks him in the eye and says, “Sir. I told you that I had personally trained it and taught it to shake hands and say bow wow. I was telling you the truth. I did teach it several things. But I cannot be blamed if it did not really learn anything that I taught!!”
End of story.
Inference no 1: As teachers we cannot absolve ourselves of all blame if our students do not really learn anything from the subject matter that we have taught them.
Inference no 2: As teachers, we need to get down to the mental level of the students. We have to think and plan our lessons in such a way that they will be able to relate to it immediately.
Inference no 3: We need to create and work at a steady pace that benefits and suits them. Simply rushing through the lessons to finish the syllabus on time has never worked nor will it ever work.
Inference no 4: Are the students really learning from our classes and from our subjects? Or are we so engrossed and caught up in delivering our lecture that we are not even able to see that half the class is yawning and the other half is busy passing notes to one another. A couple of students are packing their bags neatly and are just waiting for the bell to ring.
Yes, history is boring to study at the end of the day. Math is imbibed best in the early morning hours. Chemistry is dull and physics is abstract. Shakespeare goes completely above their heads at noon and students fail to understand why they have to study Hindi at all when they know how to communicate so effectively in that language?
A flawless timetable can never be created to suit the whims and fancies of the teachers and students.
If we teachers are extremely brutally honest with ourselves: this statement too should have a lingering memorable impact on our minds and hearts.
If even a single student of our class has failed in our subject………it does NOT mean the student has failed to learn the concepts properly…….it means, WE HAVE FAILED TO TEACH THE SUBJECT PROPERLY!!
We need to think about HOW we can teach our subject matter and create a healthy teacher student environment. The teacher leadership comes into play here.
The focus should be on:
- Piquing the curiosity of the children.
- Creating a passion for the subject.
- Thinking beyond the traditional classroom structure.
- Breaking down the structure of the classroom.
- Restructuring our lessons.
- Making it interactive.
- Two-way learning. Not one-way monologue/lecture.
- A tray full of colourful liquids and compounds in a class room…….and we can feel the excitement of a chemistry class. Ask the students questions. Lots of questions. Make them talk. Make them think. Teachers take a back seat please. Allow the students to perform the experiments. Let them see the results for themselves! Let them draw their own conclusions and inferences!!
- Stage a play for a history class. Select students randomly. Narrate the historical event and make them enact it then and there – right in the middle of the classroom. Tell them what to do. Believe in the here and now. Create two groups to depict two countries waging a war. See how the class starts giggling. No history teacher will ever have a problem finishing the syllabus if he/she makes them enact the whole thing casually, informally and naturally. Every single detail will show up on the answer script.
- More importantly they will love the subject that they are learning.
- They will learn the same concept in great detail in grade 10 too. They will learn to demonstrate it practically too. That should never be used as an excuse to NOT make them do the experiment in grade 8. If a concept stirs and arouses interest in a student in grade 8 he will surely be passionate about it in grade 10. But if a student understands a basic concept vaguely, abstractly or hazily……in grade 8 – he will surely lose interest in it and give up even trying to understand it by the time he reaches grade 10.
- So let’s not shift the blame and the onus by saying that they will learn it later in greater detail. Believe in the here and now!!
- Technology is the best blessing that a teacher could ever ask for. Show the students a movie during a history class. Break the movie into several parts to fit it into the time slot. There may be deviations in the details – but the students will be transported back in time. The costumes, the language, the ambience of that era, the thinking are all fine nuances of history that they will imbibe by simply looking at a movie. Take them on a site visit. No elaborate 10 day trips. A single day trip to some local historical monument on a Sunday too works beautifully.
- Power point presentations, audio clippings, audio video shows are excellent teaching aids for a literature class. Simple videos displayed on mute will stir their imagination and they will learn dialogue writing within 40 minutes. Take them out for a stage performance. It that is not possible – download a video recording or an animated version of the story.
- The teacher needs to come up with just one presentation. Divide the class into groups. Allot each group a different story/concept/idea. Give them a week’s time to prepare. Allow them to prepare during your class hours. Guide them. Improve their presentation. Help them prepare their dialogues. Then let each group present their concept.
The teacher too will learn a lot ………we promise you that!