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A student is not a bucket to be filled, but a fire to be lighted
There was a time when it was presumed that a student's mind was a receptacle into which the knowledgeable, all knowing teacher was required to fill facts, figures, data and information.
The students had to receive all the mine of learning unquestioningly, assimilate and be prepared to regurgitate in the exam hall.
Naturally, the cognitive abilities of learners were never really exercised. They never got the opportunity, the platform the portal to seek, enquire, probe.
All of the teachings of teachers taken at face value.
No critical analysis, no lateral thinking, no looking for newer approaches to problem solving.
Now, we are in for a paradigm shift from less of teaching and more of learning. Where students have the freedom to apply their own critical thinking skills. Where they can complement the teacher's efforts. Where there can be healthy exchange of information with both their classmates as well as the teacher. Where even teachers can stand to benefit from the fresh insights offered by students. Where teaching learning moves from the hierarchical structure to a democratic participatory function.
A std 5 child wanted to know how many bananas a child would get if 0 banana is distributed among 0 students.
The whole class burst into peals of laughter until the teacher commended the question.
Then as per the prevailing supposition, he said each child would get one banana.
The child begged to disagree. Each child, he said would get an infinite number of bananas!!!!
No prizes for guessing who this precocious youngster was!!!!!
This child prodigy!!
Moral of the story?
We must encourage, motivate and prod our students to open up and enquire about anything that crosses their minds.
A question is a question.
It is our bounden duty to entertain questions, to listen to questions with rapt attention and then instead of giving the answer directly, we must get the whole class to brainstorm it, getting especially the less prominent ones to speak their minds.
Any negative response to a question, by way of a comment, body language or facial expression is sure to kill the enthusiasm of the student concerned and also have a ripple effect on the rest of the class.
Also, we need not have complete mastery over any subject. We may not have the answer to a question asked. Such a scenario must be commended rather than result in hurt egos.