In the realm of education, beyond the simple transmission of knowledge, resides the intricate art of sparking critical thinking and endless questioning in young minds. As we engaged in a conversation with Aavishkaar's Founders, Sandhya Gupta and Sarit Sharma, along with The Circle’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Jeetesh Gulani, during a forum focused on STEM learning, we found ourselves delving deeper into this fascinating subject.
Here are three pivotal insights that emerged from our discussion:
1. The Power of Expression without Bias
"Our role as educators is not to hand out answers; rather, it is to guide them towards self-discovery. We must pose probing questions that lead them to the solution. We need to cultivate a sense of exploration." -Sandhya Gupta
The unspoken signals we, as educators, unintentionally send out can significantly influence how students perceive correctness. Empowering students to self-assess demands maintaining an impartial demeanour when they present their responses. This practice shifts the influence from the teacher's cues to the student's own confidence in their comprehension. The calm composure of the educator can resonate profoundly, reinforcing the idea that a student's engagement holds greater significance than their answer.
2. Nurturing a Supportive and Stimulating Atmosphere
Creating an environment conducive to meaningful learning requires a careful balance. It's essential to provide a safe space where students feel comfortable making mistakes, asking questions, and sharing ideas. Students should feel empowered to admit "I don't know" and seek answers without apprehension of mockery.
"Raising your hand in classrooms is an act of courage in India," notes Sandhya. At Aavishkaar, they've tackled this predicament through charchas in classrooms, providing learners dedicated time to question what they've learnt.
3. Embracing the Value of Mistakes
The concept of deliberate mistakes is instrumental in cultivating inquisitive minds. While it might appear counterintuitive, embracing errors within the learning process has remarkable advantages. When students witness that errors are permissible, their confidence grows, propelling them to take intellectual leaps. When teachers not only endorse, but also exemplify admitting mistakes, the notion of having to be right, dissipates. By embracing vulnerability, educators lay the groundwork for authentic learning experiences where trial and error aren't just tolerated – they're celebrated.
Sarit emphasizes the significance of teachers making mistakes, not solely to gauge learners' grasp of the subject but also to demonstrate that errors are acceptable. This approach has an additional positive outcome. It encourages the class to collaborate in arriving at the correct solution. Asking children to explain their reasoning often leads them to recognize their own missteps as they articulate their thought process.
"Educating is not about filling a vessel, but igniting a spark." - W.B. Yeats
Our roles as educators transcend the conventional role of imparting textbook knowledge. Sandhya and Sarit underscore the necessity of becoming enablers in a student's educational journey, demanding a fundamental reassessment of the traditional functioning of schools. For deeper insights from Sandhya and Sarit, we encourage you to watch the complete recording of the forum. Their expertise and insights could prove invaluable in your quest to create meaningful learning experiences in your classroom.
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