I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. In a school research project, in their response to the single most preferred mode of learning, learners indicated a strong preference for doing or performing or experiencing learning beyond classroom. The single most preferred mode was learning by doing for 65.2%, learning by seeing for 21.2%, learning by discussing for 11.3% and learning by hearing for 2%. The big question is – “Why would children or for that matter anyone want to learn something?” It may be when they find it interesting, important and relevant. A lecture on area and perimeter in a mathematics class OR a textbook reading on inclined plane Vs plain surfaces OR writing a mundane stereotype letter, learning it by rote and reproducing the same in an ‘exam’ and many such conventional ‘academic practices’, year after year neither arouse interest nor display any relevance in the real life. However, taking the boys and girls to the basketball court with a measuring tape and asking them to measure the area of the BB court because the school wants to pave it with new tiles which would cost Rs 1200 per sq m, may address both the key motivating factors for learning i.e. interest as well as relevance. When you learn this way, you retain it for lifetime. Learning beyond classroom offers a broad spectrum of opportunities for children to explore the real world around them, view the abstract intangible information in textbooks in contextual relevance, connecting it with tangible. Possibilities for learning beyond textbooks are endless and so are the benefits provided by them. The learning environment where students have opportunity to learn in a real world environment, they certainly draw immense value on being exposed to handson related experience within their field of study. I have seen a lot of growth and boost in confidence in students which ultimately makes them lifelong learners. Giving lessons in the classroom through lecture method is the traditional way of teaching, but learning should no longer restrict just to the classroom and students must venture outdoors to learn how to connect with their environment and develop the values, knowledge and practices of environmental sustainability. It is high time; we need to question the reliance on the classroom as the only proper environments for learning. Educators need to decide that, since the world cannot be brought into the classroom, students need to be sent into the world. They have integrated experiential activities and communitybased activities as options for learning. Learning beyond the classroom offers a whole host of opportunities you’ll struggle to find within confines of your classroom’s four walls, I’ve outlined just a few below: Make learning relevant: Making learning more relevant is the best reason to go outside, in my opinion. Maths is everywhere but it is taught in such an abstract way that children don’t consider it relevant. All sorts of maths can be brought to life outside, from finding 2D and 3D shapes to finding the height of a tree using trigonometry, there’s always something which will give purpose to the theory. Let the concepts come alive: It’s fantastic being able to make concepts come alive ,more relevant, more meaningful, more fun and more memorable all in one go. Look at the various leaves that you find outside. Find the biggest; find the smallest by finding the area of different leaves. Look at some of the trees outside – are some trees wider than they are high? Become aware of the shadows that you are casting. How much bigger is your shadow that you? What about for other people and for other objects? How long would it take to run across the field?, or around the edge?, or across the diagonal? How many different sorts of patterns can you find (e.g. fencing, roofing, paving, etc.)? Which is the strongest structure? Which is the most cost effective? Learning through dramatic play: We all know that children learn more when they’re happy and engaged. It’s amazing just how much they can learn through dramatic playing. You can bet that the kids who did the role play in the castle will remember heaps about what life was like for their characters. Sense of discovery through experimentation: If we want to teach scientific phenomenon, processes or principals to children, for instance, evaporation and condensation, let children for themselves experiment, observe, formulate hypothesis, discuss and conclude what happens when water is heated up, what is ‘boiling’, why does boiling start after sometime, why does water keep on disappearing from the beaker with more and more boiling? Where does the water go? What if we cover it with a lid? Where do the water droplets come from on the underside of lid? Let children find out! Isn’t that amazing to discover things this way? Developing interest in the environment and wider surroundings:Learning outside can give you a great opportunity to teach your pupils about the environment and about your local area. Such enriching excursions are an important part of developing them as responsible citizens who are appreciate cultural diversity. Exposing children to new opportunities: For learning outside classroom and beyond textbooks, school ground in itself is a great place to start. There is no end of places you can take the pupils Museums, galleries, farms, bank, gram panchayat, rain harvesting plant, botanical garden; handicraft centre, organising workshops, meeting people, community walk etc can be of great interest where they can find out how things are made and how things work at local level. I feel very strongly that we need to take advantage of every opportunity to develop “real” understanding not simply looking for rote methods for marksoriented education which offer nothing more than mundane practise of abstract ideas. Understanding can only be developed if there are regular opportunities to apply the skills in everyday situations, going outside and allowing learners to explore and find maths, science, history, languages etc for themselves is the way to lifelong learning. The ability to apply skills is, according to a recent study, critical to employability yet absent in many school leavers. Providing situations where learners can apply their skills and problems solving is essential if we are to develop young people who are able to “think”, “innovate” & “function” adequately in society. “THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS IN LIFE ARE USUALLY NOT LEARNED IN THE CLASSROOM”.
Tell us something about your childhood, including your academic profile. I grew up as an inquisitive child who was fond of books and keen to explore the world around. My parents and grandparents instilled a strong sense of moral values. My school life has been the most cherished phase of my life and I enjoyed every bit of it. Though Iliked various subjects, but at a higher level I chose to specialize in sciences. I pursued my Bachelor’s degree in Science from Delhi University followed by a Master’s degree, specialization in education and honors in IT systems management. Further I pursued some international research projects in experiential learning. What inspired you to take up teaching as profession and to become a principal? My father, an engineer by profession, was a charismatic mentor. Some of my teachers have always remained the pathbreaking rolemodels. But I think inspiration comes from within. In fact, teaching is a vocation for anyone who genuinely loves and adores childr