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Teaching - the Youth perspective

In 2009, the world was introduced to one more book from the desk of Dan Brown. In a quote that has since stirred up many a conversation in the world, Brown began his book 'The Lost Symbol' with the explosive phrase, "The secret is how to die."

Without taking the quote literally, and discarding all the references Brown used further, the quote in itself can still be amounted some importance. But how does all of this relate to education? Surely, this weapon can indeed be used to change the world for the better...

Let me tell you a bit about myself. My name is Pushkar, and I am a recent graduate from a college in Pune. So you can trust me when I tell you that I know what sitting in a boring class feels like. Now: don't get me wrong, I am not going to badmouth teachers and shift the blame to this "education system" that people arbitrarily refer to. I'm going to tell you, in the simplest manner, what it is about the way things are taught that do not resonate with students. 

"Teach me, I'll forget. Show me, I'll remember. Involve me, I'll understand" is not something that is said just for fun. There are different types of learners. Although there is a vast spectrum, children typically tend to be one among three types. They are either a visual learner, which means they learn by viewing and observing something. Else, they could be auditory learners, which means they learn by retaining what they hear. Or finally, they are kinesthetic learners, who learn by what they do actively. A textbook approach towards teaching (pun unintended) will only engage the auditory learners. Or, a teaching aid with just some video playing on the screen might help the visual learners. In such methods, most often, teachers lose out on kinesthetic learning, which can help incorporate both visual and auditory styles. For example, imagine being taught areas of basic geometrical figures using Origami (paper folding). Doesn't that look like a fun exercise that kids will retain (and more importantly, cherish!) for a long time after than just a teacher continuously speaking/writing formulas on the board? Involving them in such an activity can help increase their interest in the subject, too.

The second problem is not so much as a problem in the method, but a general... deficiency - for lack of a better word - in the way the human brain is programmed. You see, the average human brain, although all powerful needs to be trained to do certain things. An example would be, the average attention span of adults is 20 minutes to 30 minutes at most. Clearly, you will observe that young children are at a further disadvantage because if their attention span itself is limited to 20 minutes or fewer, then they will be able to grasp things bit by bit only. That is often why schools have 40-minute periods. Unless a variation is constantly achieved in the course of the teaching duration, the grasping capacity will remain limited.

The ideas of homework, or keeping notes, are not revolutionary. They are meant to help develop students and their understanding in a better manner. This is because it has been proven that if you write something down, you tend to remember it for longer. However, putting only reading and writing at the forefront and calling it "learning" is a common error. True learning happens only when the students are able to assimilate information better and retain it for longer. That is why SABIA prides itself on the several diverse activities it conducts to engage students. SABIA Volunteers are most often fresh graduates who know the challenges associated with typical classroom learning. They incorporate new methodologies that help students learn about concepts of democracy, leadership, and team building in a better manner.

Coming back to Dan Brown, I think what he was really trying to say is that the circumstances of someone's environment may matter, but it is up to us to determine how much importance to give them. For you may be raised in adverse conditions, but the secret is how to die: the secret is making your life exceptional and overcoming the external environment to succeed. That is exactly what SABIA helps students to do. 

Pushkar Marathe

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