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We must provide opportunities for children to explore, play and apply

It’s time we treated play with the respect and gravitas it deserves. Child’s play is serious stuff!

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“Curiosity in children is but an appetite for knowledge. The great reason why children abandon themselves wholly to silly pursuits and trifle away their time insipidly is, because they find their curiosity balked, and their inquiries neglected,” wrote John Locke.

As parents and educators who deal with children constantly, we know full well that children are utterly curious creatures. It is by exploring, questioning, and wondering, that they learn. So, how do we foster a child’s inherent tendency to discover and learn through cause and effect, and allow learning to occur unhampered?

Fear, disapproval and absence – these are the extinguishers of a child’s natural curiosity. A child whose world is in disarray will cling to his comfort zone and shun novelty. Constant “don’ts” also snuff out curiosity, as children absorb the same fears and attitudes of their caregivers. The absence of a caring adult also extinguishes a child’s sense of wonder, as the child lacks the sense of safety necessary to fuel his sense of discovery; the lack of a person to share the discovery with also subdues the pleasure and reinforcement from that finding.

Both parents and teachers play a key role in encouraging this curiosity-fuelled learning. As adults, we must provide opportunities for children to explore, play and apply.

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Play – that word that is often misconstrued by those who don’t know better, as a waste of time! – pays huge dividends in a child’s education. For a child, play is natural, spontaneous, enjoyable, rewarding and self-initiated. Even play that is engaged in not for its learning outcomes, promotes growth and development. Whether Functional Play which sees children using their senses and muscles to explore and experiment with materials and learn how things go together, or Constructive Play in which children learn the use of different materials, put things together based on a plan, and develop and use strategies of reaching their goal, there is no underestimating the value of play.

Dramatic or Pretend Play allows children to take on a role, and use words and gestures to depict the role they are playing, while Games with Rules help children learn to play with others, control their behaviour and conform to a structure of pre-set rules. And at the end of it, it is the co-operating and collaborating in which lies the enjoyment.

It’s time we treated play with the respect and gravitas it deserves. Child’s play is serious stuff!

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Education

Irony of the Idiot Box: How Television made Education Smarter?

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Television, often labelled as the ‘idiot box,’ paradoxically stood as a formidable force that reshaped the educational landscape in India. Its influence, both before and after the internet era, was transformative, leveraging the power of visual and auditory stimulation to enhance learning experiences. This medium, with its broad reach, played a pivotal role in overcoming barriers to education, acting as an inclusive educator that transcended geographical, linguistic, and socio-economic boundaries.

Educational programs address issues ranging from social justice to environmental sustainability, instilling values of democracy, diversity, and tolerance. The medium serves as a conduit for raising awareness and sensitizing viewers to the pressing challenges faced by society. One remarkable example is the vast array of educational programs under the PM e-Vidya initiative, with India boasting the largest number of educational TV channels globally, totaling 280. This initiative underscored television’s potential as a tool for democratizing education, making quality content accessible even in the remotest corners of the country.

Television’s impact on academic performance is substantiated by a study from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), revealing that watching educational TV programs could improve students’ academic performance by a significant 10 to 15 percent. These findings emphasized the educational value embedded in televised content.

The rural penetration of television, as highlighted by a survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), was striking. More than 80 percent of rural households in India had access to television, and over 60 percent of rural children regularly engaged with educational TV programs. This extensive reach underscored television’s role as a key player in disseminating educational content to a diverse and widespread audience.

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India-specific shows further exemplified television’s prowess as an educational tool. The iconic ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayan‘ adaptations by BR Chopra and Ramanand Sagar, respectively, not only popularized ancient Indian scriptures but also conveyed enduring values to a vast audience. These epics became cultural touchstones, imparting lessons of duty, loyalty, courage, and morality.

Bharat Ek Khoj,’ a historical series based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s book, offered a panoramic view of India’s history, tracing its evolution from the Indus Valley Civilization to modern times. This show served as an educational journey, enlightening viewers about the diverse and complex tapestry of India’s past.

Shaktimaan,’ a superhero series, did not just entertain but also educated a generation. Through the protagonist’s battles against evil forces, the show imparted knowledge on scientific, social, and environmental topics. It stood as a testament to television’s ability to combine entertainment with education, fostering a sense of responsibility and curiosity among its viewers.

Further enriching the educational spectrum was the show ‘Tarang‘ on Doordarshan, which was instrumental in making learning interactive and engaging. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati,’ the Indian adaptation of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,’ not only continues to entertain but also encourages millions to expand their knowledge base through a quiz format. ‘Panchtantra Ki Kahaniyan‘ on DD, with its fables and moral stories, contributed to character-building and ethical understanding. In the realm of science, ‘Khud Bud: Khel Vigyan Ke‘ carved a niche. This show, with its focus on scientific principles and experiments, not only entertained but also educated, nurturing a scientific temperament among its audience.

The vastness of television’s reach, has potentially redefined the landscape of teacher education and, consequently, the quality of education imparted across the country. Television, once labeled an ‘idiot box,’ has proven to be a dynamic educational tool, reaching far beyond its initial moniker. It continues to shape the educational narrative in India, bringing knowledge, inspiration, and social consciousness to millions. As we celebrate the transformation wrought by this medium, it becomes evident that the ‘idiot box’ was anything but foolish—it was a catalyst for intellectual growth and societal progress.

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Education

Educational Renaissance: Narayana Murthy’s Visionary Call for a $1 Billion Investment in Teacher Training

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Narayana Murthy, Co-Founder, Infosys

In a seminal declaration, N R Narayana Murthy has thrust the spotlight on a critical facet of India’s education system, urging an annual investment of $1 billion for the comprehensive training of school teachers. This visionary proposition advocates tapping into the wealth of experience harboured by 10,000 retired, highly accomplished educators from both developed nations and India, with a specific focus on STEM areas — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

At its core, this proposal compels us to reevaluate our educational priorities, directing attention towards the educators who are the architects of our nation’s intellectual foundation. While discussions on educational investments often revolve around students, Murthy’s call resonates with the acknowledgment that the future of teaching lies in the hands of our educators.

The fundamental question that emerges is, why the emphasis on such substantial financial allocation for teacher training? To begin with, investing in teachers is an investment in the very fabric of our society. They are the conduits of knowledge, shaping the minds that will steer the nation’s trajectory. However, despite the crucial role they play, the teaching profession is often undervalued and undercompensated.

The suggested $1 billion annual investment is undoubtedly a substantial figure, prompting some to question the necessity of such a significant financial commitment. It is imperative to recognize that teaching, despite its paramount importance, is often remunerated far less than corporate roles, despite the immense responsibility it carries. This discrepancy in compensation is a deterrent to attracting and retaining top-tier talent in the education sector. Hence, the call for substantial funding is not just an arbitrary figure but a strategic move to rectify the undervaluation of the teaching profession.

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Moreover, this proposal prompts us to reflect on the broader issue of the societal perception of teaching. Teachers, the architects of intellectual growth, deserve not only financial remuneration which is well deserved for their pivotal role in an economy but also comprehensive training that keeps them abreast of evolving pedagogical methodologies and technological advancements. Respect, a commodity sometimes undervalued, is also an integral part of the equation. The proposed investment is not merely a financial allocation; it is a symbolic gesture of acknowledging the critical role teachers play in shaping the future of our nation.

The concept of enlisting 10,000 retired, highly accomplished teachers, both from developed nations and India, is particularly noteworthy. It suggests a collaborative approach, harnessing global expertise to elevate the standard of teaching in India. The focus on STEM areas is strategic, aligning with the evolving demands of the job market and technological landscape.

The ‘Train the Teacher’ program, coupled with the proposed annual expenditure of $1 billion, stands as a transformative initiative poised to redefine the landscape of education in India. Envisaging this as more than a mere financial allocation, the program introduces a comprehensive training approach at the school level. This strategic move is not just about empowering teachers with subject matter expertise; it’s a holistic endeavor aimed at fostering a culture of critical thinking, encouraging experimentation, promoting teamwork, igniting curiosity, and honing problem-solving abilities among educators. By instilling these qualities in teachers, the initiative creates a cascading effect on students, shaping a learning environment that not only imparts knowledge but also nurtures the essential skills crucial for navigating the challenges of the future.

The broader impact of such an initiative extends beyond individual teachers. It gives birth to a ripple effect where enhanced teacher training translates into a more dynamic and effective education system. Students exposed to well-trained educators benefit from a more enriched learning experience, preparing them not just academically but also fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential for the challenges of the future.

In conclusion, Narayana Murthy’s call for a $1 billion annual investment in teacher training is a clear and much awaited call for a paradigm shift in our approach to education. It beckons us to recognize and rectify the undervaluation of teachers, both in terms of remuneration and societal respect. It is an investment not just in individuals but in the very bedrock of our nation’s intellectual growth. As we navigate the complexities of the 21st century, the emphasis on teacher training becomes not just an option but an imperative for sculpting a future-ready generation.

 

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Education

Transforming Young Minds: The Imperative of STEM Education in Today’s World

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We live in an era of rapid technological advancements and a dynamic job market. This has led to an increase in the need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning now more than ever. STEM is not just an industry, it is the foundation upon which the future generation of our world will rely.  At ThinkerPlace, we understand the significance of STEM in nurturing young minds and are delighted to see that this understanding is being recognized on a broader scale, as seen in the National Education Policy 2020. 

STEM education is not just preparing young minds for the future but it is also about empowering them with critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that will help them throughout their lives. It fosters curiosity, creativity, and a passion for learning. The practical application of STEM concepts in our daily lives, from smartphones to renewable energy solutions, underscores the need for a solid foundation in these fields. 

There is a high demand for STEM jobs in the current scenario that is focused on automation, data analysis, and technology-driven skills. To ensure that our children are not left behind, we must equip them with the necessary knowledge and tools to thrive in this digital age. This is where STEM education comes into play, preparing students to become the innovators, problem solvers, and leaders of tomorrow. 

The National Education Policy 2020 recognizes the importance of STEM education very well in shaping young minds for the future. It places a strong emphasis on holistic development, with an increased focus on experiential learning and skill development. One of the key aspects of the policy is the integration of STEM education from an early age, making it an integral part of the school syllabus. This shift acknowledges that STEM education is not a luxury but a necessity for students to succeed in an increasingly competitive global landscape.  

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STEM education is all about practical learning. When children build their own robots, experiment with circuits, or delve into scientific principles, they are not just memorizing concepts; they are experiencing the thrill of discovery. This kind of active learning ignites a passion for knowledge & curiosity that can last a lifetime. 

STEM education also encourages an entrepreneurial mindset. It empowers young minds to think outside the box, develop innovative solutions, and create new technologies. By nurturing a culture of innovation from a young age, we can inspire the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, and leaders who will drive progress and change the world. 

STEM education equips children with the skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to navigate the complexities of the modern world. The National Education Policy 2020’s recognition of STEM as a fundamental part of education is a wonderful step in the right direction much needed at this hour. 

It is crucial to foster a passion for STEM among our youth, after all, it is for the betterment of their future.  As we look ahead, it is clear that STEM education is the need of the hour, and we must embrace it wholeheartedly to ensure a brighter and more innovative tomorrow for our children and the world they will shape. 

Written by Deepti Sharma, Director, ThinkerPlace

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Education

Preparing High School Students for Tomorrow’s Thriving Job Market: Is the Education System Up to the Task?

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In the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century, the job market is undergoing a profound transformation. Traditional career paths are giving way to innovative roles, demanding new skills and adaptability. The question that resonates across boardrooms, classrooms, and dinner tables alike is whether our education system is adequately preparing high school students for this dynamic future.

In this thought-provoking exploration, we delve into the heart of the matter: the readiness of our education system to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and mindset essential for success in tomorrow’s job market. Through insights from industry experts, we aim to dissect the challenges, unveil innovative solutions, and inspire a collective reimagining of education. Join us on this insightful journey, where we question, reflect, and envision a future where our students are not just equipped to survive, but to thrive.

However, the current education system in many countries, including India, is not adequately preparing them for this dynamic and uncertain scenario.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum in 2020, at least 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling, and 42% of core skills required for existing jobs would have changed by 2022. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and remote working, creating new challenges and opportunities for learning and employment

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As the world hurtles toward an unpredictable future, high school students find themselves standing at the crossroads, uncertain about the path that leads to tomorrow’s job market. In a conversation with Dr. Devesh Kumar Singh, Chairman of Noida International University, emphasises that “preparing students for the expanding labour market is our top priority in a world where change is continual.” He advocates for a curriculum that combines academic knowledge with real-world skills and adaptability, equipping students for the diverse opportunities they might encounter.

In today’s digital age, Mayank Singh, Co-founder of Campus 365, emphasizes the significance of digital readiness. He stresses that “digital literacy and the willingness to adopt technology by educational institutions are crucial in today’s fast-changing job market.” His perspective highlights the importance of bridging the digital divide and ensuring students are not only technologically adept but also agile in the face of technological advancements.

Mamta Shekhawat, Founder of Gradding.com, sheds light on an often-overlooked aspect of education: understanding the job market itself. She believes that “by learning about the job market, students can adjust to developing technology and develop more productive skills.” Her insight emphasizes the importance of students being cognizant of the evolving landscape they are about to step into. Education needs to promote lifelong learning and career guidance, that help students to adapt and grow in a changing environment, she says.

Ms. Shaina Ganapathy, Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group said, “The education system should facilitate students’ understanding of what’s out there, both through exposure to the diverse array of industries and in understanding the kinds of skills required. Programmes should be put in place to help students gauge their strengths, weaknesses, and interests while mapping them to the industries in the existing job market. Furthermore, technological education and computer skills, including programming and data analysis, are essential to preparing students for the digital age.”

To prepare high school students for tomorrow’s thriving job market, the education system needs to undergo a fundamental transformation. It needs to shift from a rigid and rote-based curriculum to a flexible and learner-centred one, that fosters creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Addressing the need for a lifelong learning mindset, Prof. (Dr.) Y.S.R. Murthy, Founding Vice-Chancellor of RV University, asserts that “we must teach students how to learn rather than what to learn.” His words underscore the significance of instilling not just knowledge, but the ability to adapt and continuously educate oneself in the face of constant change.

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Pratibha Sharma, Academic Director of Bhai Parmanand Vidya Mandir, champions a holistic approach to education. She believes that “the evolving job market demands a transformation in education. It is not merely about imparting specific skills; it is about instilling a mindset of lifelong learning.” Her perspective emphasizes the importance of nurturing curiosity, creativity, and adaptability in students, essential traits in the ever-changing professional world.

Ms. Aparna Prasad, Founder of Knowledgeum, points toward the future. She asserts that “embracing industry and technological advancements, coupled with dynamic and future-oriented approaches to education, is the way forward.” Her view emphasizes the need to expose students to emerging fields, preparing them for careers in areas like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and cybersecurity.

Dr. Bishnu Pal, Dean of School of Engineering and Academics at Mahindra University, underscores the qualities demanded in the contemporary job market. He believes that “the booming job market demands individuals who can innovate, collaborate, and lead from the front with integrity.” His perspective accentuates the importance of nurturing qualities like innovation and ethical leadership in students.

Practical experience is paramount, as Mr. Patriek Karayil, President of American Colleges, suggests. He emphasizes that “in today’s high-speed job market, it is crucial for high school students to not only be knowledgeable but also to be shrewd in their academic and geographic choices for the future.” His words underscore the necessity for strategic decisions in education, aligning students’ choices with market demands.

Dr. Kasturi Bose, Strategy Consultant at Somerset English, advocates for experiential learning. “High school education is a crucial life-stage imparting skills to excel in a profession one will enter in the future,” she affirms, emphasizing the practical skills students gain during this period. She vouches for project-based learning, internships, and mentorships, that expose students to real-world problems and solutions.

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In today’s globally competitive world, Abhijit Zaveri, Founder and Director of Career Mosaic, asserts the importance of a broader perspective. He believes that “students must stay informed about current events, geopolitics, and tech innovations to thrive in a globally competitive world.” His words underscore the necessity for students to be well-rounded individuals, informed about the world beyond textbooks.

In India, the education system is facing several challenges, such as low enrolment and retention rates, poor learning outcomes, high teacher-student ratios, inadequate infrastructure and resources, and socio-economic disparities. However, the recent National Education Policy 2020, which aims to overhaul the entire education system, offers a ray of hope.

The policy envisages a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to education, that aligns with the global trends and needs. It proposes to introduce a 5+3+3+4 structure, that covers the age group of 3-18 years, and emphasises on foundational literacy and numeracy, experiential learning, skill development, and vocational education. It also proposes to integrate artificial intelligence, coding, and digital skills into the curriculum, and to create a National Digital Education Architecture, that will enable online and blended learning. According to Mr. Nasir Shaikh, Group CEO, The Lexicon Group of Institutes, Multifit & EduCrack, the Indian education sector is undergoing a transformation. “The Indian education sector is actively reshaping its approach by adapting curricula, prioritizing the development of essential soft skills, fostering valuable industry partnerships, embracing technology, and providing additional industry-relevant certifications,” he states, indicating the sector’s proactive stance in bridging the skills gap.

Meeta Kapoor, Principal of MGM First Steps School, delves into the heart of the matter. She believes that India’s education sector needs to focus on enhancing educational infrastructure, enabling access to quality practical skilling opportunities, and improving curriculum to match the prevailing market trends.

Vyankatesh Kharage, Founder and Director of Asude Foundation, emphasizes the urgency of action. “The time for action is now, as we cannot afford to let the potential of countless students, particularly those facing economic hardships, go untapped and unfulfilled,” he states, indicating the need for inclusive education that addresses the unique challenges faced by economically disadvantaged students.

These diverse voices collectively form a symphony of insights, urging educational institutions, leaders, and policymakers to chart a new course. As we navigate the intricate landscape of tomorrow’s job market, these perspectives illuminate the way, guiding us toward an education system that not only equips students with knowledge but empowers them with the skills and mindset to thrive in an ever-changing world.

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What are your thoughts on preparing high school students for the challenges of the future job market? Share your insights in the comment box below. Let’s continue this crucial conversation together.

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Opinion

Empowering Student Agency through the Workshop Model

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The IB curriculum places a strong emphasis on cultivating Approaches to Learning skills, encompassing critical thinking, research, communication, self-management, and social skills right from the early years.

One of the most effective tools for instilling student agency in the classroom is the Workshop Model. This model’s versatility is remarkable, as it can be applied to elementary students across various subject areas. It serves multiple purposes, such as assessing prior knowledge, enabling differentiated learning, and culminating, assessing, and reporting on learning outcomes.

Let’s delve into each of these facets with insights drawn from my own classroom experiences:

Prior Knowledge Assessment:

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The Workshop Model shines when it comes to gauging students’ prior knowledge on a specific topic. It also provides valuable insights into the collective thinking level within the classroom. For example, during a prior knowledge assessment in mathematics, where we explored the concept of place value, we set up stations with differentiated task cards, each station covering a different aspect of place value from the previous grade. In a rotational fashion, students progressed from one station to another, with the condition that they could only advance when they completed the task card accurately. By the end, we had a wealth of data to inform our lesson planning, addressing individual learning progressions. Students were also actively involved in self-assessment, reflection, and goal-setting, fostering a sense of agency in their learning journey.

Differentiated Learning in the Classroom:

The Workshop Model is a lifesaver for educators when faced with varying skill levels in the classroom. Take, for example, an English lesson focused on encouraging students to apply the writing process. We set up five stations: Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, and Publishing, each equipped with checklists for students to self-assess their work. The students were given the topic “My Favorite YouTube Channel,” and, with two teachers in the classroom, two stations were assigned for each stage. As with prior knowledge assessment, students had to complete the checklist at each stage before moving forward. In a matter of minutes, we had students at different stations, each progressing at their own pace. This model allows for tailored learning experiences to cater to the unique progression levels of each student.

Culmination, Assessment, and Reporting of Learning:

As students accumulate knowledge throughout the year, the Workshop Model offers an ideal platform for showcasing their learning journey. This process opens the door to peer assessment, teacher evaluation, and parental involvement. Students exhibit their work, not just the final product but the entire learning process. They teach visitors and provide them with the opportunity to participate in the tasks. Students consider the target audience while explaining the process and the engagement required. For instance, we organized a Math workshop as the year-end culmination for Grade 5 students, where teachers and students from other grades visited stations covering specific mathematical concepts. These visiting students were from Grades 2, 3, and 4. Grade 5 students planned the activities according to the audience’s understanding level. Each station had multiple activities catering to different grades, allowing younger students to learn from their older peers and provide feedback. Teachers assessed the students’ understanding using analytical rubrics at each station, considering their answers and conceptual comprehension. This comprehensive approach not only culminates the students’ learning but also assesses their understanding at different levels, informing visitors about their progression—a true reporting of learning.

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It’s essential to note that in the early years, workshops tended to be more sensorial, concrete, and pictorial. Stations have independent and group expectations, and younger students receive closer guidance compared to upper primary students.

Let’s continue to empower our students by providing them with the tools and opportunities to take charge of their own learning journey. The Workshop Model is a powerful instrument in this endeavor.

By Aanchal Shah, Grade Level Coordinator and Form Tutor, Prometheus School, Noida

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Opinion

Financial Literacy in Education: The Need for Financial Wisdom among School Students

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Financial planning involves setting and achieving financial goals, including saving, investing, budgeting, and managing debt. It equips students to prepare for their future, handle unexpected expenses, and fulfill their aspirations. However, the global financial crisis of the early 21st century has revealed a shocking truth – widespread financial illiteracy. This financial illiteracy has plagued our society for some time. Unfortunately, high schools rarely teach financial planning, resulting in adults lacking essential financial management skills. To address this growing issue, “Financial Planning for School Students” was created. With background knowledge and financial education, students can lay the foundation for a successful financial future, possibly achieving financial independence. Creating a roadmap often becomes the first step in this financial journey. Understanding how to set financial goals and identify the types of goals to pursue helps students stay on course.

Why Developing Financial Literacy for Students is Vital?

Instilling strong financial habits in students is essential to keep them informed about monetary matters from a young age. Children learn best during childhood, enabling them to establish sound money management principles as they grow. Incorporating financial literacy into students’ lives, particularly in schools, exposes them to basic budgetary concepts. Understanding the importance of this approach enables parents, guardians, and teachers to guide them effectively.

Financial literacy can help students to

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  • Cultivate a positive attitude towards money and learn how to use it wisely.
  • Understand the value of money and the importance of saving, investing, and financial planning.
  • Make informed decisions regarding their education, career, and lifestyle choices.
  • Avoid or reduce debt and financial stress.
  • Achieve short-term and long-term financial goals.

What Schools Can Do to Teach Financial Planning?

Schools play a critical role in nurturing financial literacy among students. Here are strategies that educators, parents, and schools can employ to effectively cultivate these skills

  1. Integration into the Curriculum: Financial education should seamlessly become part of the school curriculum, with budgeting, saving, investing, and debt management considered essential life skills, not optional extras.
  2. Guest Speakers and Workshops: Inviting financial experts, advisors, or local professionals to conduct workshops and seminars in schools provides students with real-world insights.
  3. Simulations and Games: Engage students with interactive financial simulations and games, making learning both enjoyable and practical. These tools allow students to experience real financial scenarios, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes in a risk-free environment.
  4. Leveraging Technology: Use technology and online resources to ensure financial information remains accessible to students. Apps and online courses can effectively engage tech-savvy students.
  5. Assessment and Certification: Implement assessments and certifications to gauge students’ financial literacy progress and offer recognized qualifications in financial planning.

How Parents Can Contribute to Teaching Financial Literacy to Kids?

Parents can make a significant contribution to their children’s financial education by incorporating fun and engaging teaching methods such as encouraging kids to handle minor chores, like shopping at a local store, and providing simple instructions on the process. Parents can accompany them, highlighting the significance of money in purchasing decisions. Also, by Introducing monthly pocket money when children reach a suitable age, offering clear guidelines on its usage in still basic financial planning. Parents can reward children for completing small household tasks, reinforcing the concept of earning money through effort. Parents should exercise caution to prevent unrealistic monetary expectations and ensure that children comprehend the value of hard work.

There are numerous educational tools and apps are available to assist students on their financial planning journey some are listed below.

  1. Mint: This free app helps create budgets, track spending, and set savings goals. It syncs with bank accounts, categorizes transactions, and offers financial advice.
  2. Zogo: Zogo provides bite-sized lessons and quizzes on financial literacy topics, allowing students to learn while earning rewards like gift cards.
  3. Simple: Simple is a banking app that streamlines finances into one account, offering budgeting features, expense tracking, and a “Safe-to-Spend” feature to keep spending in check.
  4. Investmate: This app educates users about investing and the stock market through courses, quizzes, and expert analysis.
  5. Savings Spree: A game app that teaches kids about saving money and making smart choices, demonstrating the consequences of their financial decisions.

Financial literacy is not merely an important skill; it is a fundamental life skill that can shape the future of school students. Schools, parents, and educators all have a role to play in nurturing this knowledge from a young age. Through a holistic approach encompassing formal education, practical experiences, and engaging tools, we can empower the next generation with the financial wisdom they need to thrive in an increasingly complex world. By doing so, we not only secure their individual financial futures but also contribute to building a financially savvy and secure society for all.

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Education

Ramayana as a Literary Masterpiece: Analyzing Its Profound Impact on Indian Literature and Curriculum

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The Ramayana, an epic saga that unfolds the life and adventures of Prince Ram, is not just a story; it’s a cornerstone of Indian culture and spirituality. This revered scripture, attributed to the brilliant mind of Valmiki, goes beyond being a mere narrative. It is a reservoir of moral teachings, spiritual wisdom, and timeless ideals that continue to resonate with millions of people across the globe.

The Literary Marvel of Ramayana:

Valmiki’s poetic brilliance shines through the nearly 24,000 verses of the Ramayana, composed in the eloquent Shloka or Anustubh metre. Divided into seven Kandas or books, it intricately weaves a rich tapestry of characters, dialogues, and allegories. Within these verses lie not just a story but profound life lessons, making it a literary masterpiece that transcends time and culture.

Beyond its literary eminence, the Ramayana has inspired countless artistic expressions. From classical Indian dance dramas to intricate temple carvings, the characters of Ram, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman have been immortalized in various art forms. The epic’s narrative depth has provided fodder for filmmakers, writers, painters, and performers, ensuring its legacy lives on through diverse mediums.

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The Ramayana isn’t confined to the realms of literature and art; its influence permeates the socio-political fabric of India. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, drew inspiration from Ram’s unwavering devotion and adherence to truth for his non-violent struggle against British colonialism. The concept of Ram Rajya, an ideal state envisioned by Ram, has been invoked by leaders as a blueprint for just governance and societal harmony.

Ramayana in Educational Landscape:

In the educational landscape, the Ramayana is not just a story but a holistic lesson. It’s a historical document, a linguistic treasure, and a moral guide. In schools and Gurukuls across India, students delve into its verses to understand the complexities of morality, dharma (righteousness), and the human psyche. The epic serves as a foundation for cultural knowledge, fostering a deep sense of identity and pride among the youth.

The Ramayana, as a cultural phenomenon, has transcended linguistic and geographical boundaries. Over 300 versions of the epic exist, each adding a unique cultural hue to the narrative. Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas in Hindi, Kamban’s Kambaramayanam in Tamil, and Madhava Kandali’s Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese are testaments to its adaptability across languages and cultures.

Beyond its cultural significance, the Ramayana has piqued the interest of scholars worldwide. Scientific investigations into its astronomical references, geographical locations, and historical context have added layers of understanding. The epic has become a subject of rigorous analysis, contributing to the interdisciplinary dialogue between literature, history, and science.

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Shailesh Prithani, Founder & CEO, Jumbaya writes about Ramayan’s impact on children. He says, “Ever since we can remember, our parents and grandparents have tried to get us interested in the Ramayana. They’d tell us its stories or sit us down to watch TV adaptations. Today, I completely understand why they emphasised this literary masterpiece so much. The Ramayana, believed to be written by Maharishi Valmiki around the 5th century BCE, holds a distinguished place as one of the most ancient historical documents in the Indian subcontinent. Through this narrative, Valmiki imparts the life of Lord Rama, the noble prince of Ayodhya, to his sons Lav and Kush. Beyond being a mere story, the Ramayana is a profound source of life lessons, with themes of virtue, duty, and the eternal triumph of good over evil. Its influence continues to inspire people from all walks of life.  I’ve particularly gleaned invaluable lessons on facing obstacles headfirst and maintaining calm in the face of adversity. These teachings are especially pertinent for today’s children.

I firmly believe that children need more than just language, maths, and science lessons. While these subjects are undeniably vital, they form only part of the broader education required. Children should also learn about society, morality, emotions, and everything that shapes them into well-rounded individuals. And what better way than the Ramayana? This epic conveys every emotion & virtue in the right proportions – love, hatred, jealousy, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, selflessness, righteousness, respect, courage, acceptance, forgiveness, and much more.

Indeed, our society’s civility isn’t just about how we behave outwardly; it’s about our culture, our inner thoughts, knowledge, and ethics. In simple terms, our culture defines our behaviour. The Ramayana has played a vital role in developing the identity of human civilization and will always be a guiding light for morality and ethical living.

This profound essence is beautifully captured in the Sanskrit verse:

यावत्सथासयनतनरयःनरतशचमहीतले।तावत्रामायणकथालोकेषुप् रचनरयनत।

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This means that- Till there is a hill or mountain on earth, Ramayana will be.”

In essence, the Ramayana stands not just as an epic tale but as a testament to the enduring power of literature to shape minds and societies. Its influence, both profound and far-reaching, continues to weave its magic, bridging the past and the present, making it a timeless beacon of wisdom and cultural heritage. With every generation, its legacy lives on, ensuring that the tale of Ram remains etched in the hearts and minds of humanity.

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Opinion

The Crucial Role of Parent-Teacher Meetings in Student Success

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Parent-teacher meetings, often regarded as a routine part of a student’s academic journey, hold immense significance in shaping a child’s educational experience. These regular gatherings are not mere formalities; they are powerful forums that bridge the gap between home and school, playing a pivotal role in a student’s success story.

Research, as highlighted by Parentsqaure.com, demonstrates that parental involvement in a child’s education correlates with improved academic outcomes, enhanced attendance records, and elevated graduation rates. These meetings serve as a compass guiding both parents and teachers in understanding a student’s strengths and areas needing improvement. By deciphering a child’s academic journey together, teachers and parents can create a supportive environment tailored to the student’s needs, thereby maximizing their potential.

Beyond academics, parent-teacher conferences foster the nurturing of relationships. When parents and teachers collaborate, a sense of unity is established. The child witnesses a network of support, reinforcing their confidence and motivation. Such positive associations not only influence the student’s attitude towards learning but also create a harmonious atmosphere in which they can thrive.

Encouraging Parental Involvement

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Active parent involvement is a cornerstone of a child’s educational success. Through these meetings, parents gain insights into the curriculum, teaching methodologies, and the overall school environment. Armed with this knowledge, they can actively participate in their child’s learning journey at home, complementing the efforts made in school. This synergy between home and school is often the catalyst for remarkable academic progress.

One of the pivotal roles of parent-teacher meetings is early detection of challenges. By discussing a child’s performance and behavior, teachers can address concerns promptly. Whether it’s a learning difficulty, a behavioral issue, or any other obstacle hindering the child’s progress, early identification ensures timely intervention. Strategies can be devised collaboratively, providing the necessary support mechanisms for the child to overcome hurdles effectively.

Additionally, these meetings offer a platform to transform negative situations into positive outcomes. If a child is facing academic or social challenges, the collective expertise of parents and teachers can devise bespoke solutions. Be it additional tutoring, tailored learning materials, or specialized support, these conferences initiate a proactive approach to problem-solving.

Parent-teacher meetings are not just events; they are the cornerstone of a triumphant academic journey. They exemplify the synergy between home and school, showcasing the collective dedication towards a child’s success. As the National Center for Education Statistics underlines, the high attendance rate of parents at these meetings reflects their acknowledgment of the vital role these interactions play. In essence, parent-teacher meetings are not just about discussing report cards; they are about crafting a brighter, more successful future for every student. Therefore, embracing and actively participating in these conferences is not just a responsibility but a profound investment in a child’s education, paving the way for a lifetime of accomplishments.

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Opinion

The Living Core of Mental Health Awareness in School Curriculum

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Authored by: Ms. Sonal Ahuja, Founder, House of Learning

In the realm of education, mental health awareness isn’t a mere addition to the curriculum; it’s a living entity that breathes and thrives through the collective consciousness of everyone involved. The very essence of fostering a healthy mental environment for students resides not only in the theoretical teachings but in the daily behaviours and attitudes exhibited by educators, administrators, and even the students themselves.

Understanding Mental Health Beyond the Classroom: Before we embark on the intricacies of mental health awareness in schools, let’s establish a foundational understanding of what mental health truly entails. Mental health extends far beyond the absence of mental disorders; it encompasses emotional well-being, the ability to cope with life’s challenges, and the development of resilience and coping mechanisms. In the context of schools, fostering mental health involves creating an environment where students not only learn academically but also develop emotionally and socially.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Mental Well-being

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a psychological approach that delves into the intricate connections between neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns, offers valuable insights for enhancing mental health in school environments. Within the context of education, educators who incorporate NLP principles can have a profound impact on the well-being of students. The language employed by both teachers and students is recognized as a pivotal factor in shaping the overall mental atmosphere within a school. The use of positive, empowering language fosters a culture of encouragement and support, providing a foundation for emotional growth.

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Furthermore, educators, as role models for students, can employ NLP techniques to exhibit behaviors that promote resilience, effective communication, and problem-solving skills. This modeling not only imparts essential life skills but also contributes significantly to the overall mental health of students. NLP also emphasizes the creation of positive associations with learning and personal development, nurturing a healthy attitude towards challenges and fostering a continuous improvement mindset among students. Additionally, educators can employ NLP techniques to anchor positive emotional states in students, making the school environment a space of joy and growth by associating positive emotions with the learning experience. These NLP-driven principles collectively provide a holistic approach to improving mental well-being within the educational ecosystem.

Buddhist Philosophy and Mindfulness in Schools

Incorporating Buddhist principles, particularly mindfulness and inner peace, into school curricula provides a valuable foundation for enhancing mental health awareness. Mindfulness, rooted in Buddhist practices, encourages individuals to cultivate non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, making it a significant contributor to students’ mental well-being. This can be facilitated through mindful education practices such as focused breathing and mindful listening, equipping students with tools for concentration and emotional regulation. Embracing the compassionate teaching derived from Buddhist principles allows educators to create an understanding and compassionate learning environment, fostering a sense of belonging and emotional safety among students. Moreover, discussions about the impermanence of all things, a key concept in Buddhism, can aid students in navigating life’s changing circumstances. By applying non-attachment, encouraged by Buddhist philosophy, to conflict resolution in schools, students learn to detach emotionally from conflicts and approach resolutions with clarity and understanding, thereby enhancing their mental resilience.

The synergy of NLP, Buddhist philosophy, and various holistic educational philosophies presents a robust foundation for infusing mental health awareness into school curricula. Practical considerations include implementing teacher training programs that integrate NLP techniques and mindfulness practices, enabling educators to create a positive and supportive learning environment. Embedding lessons on emotional intelligence, resilience, and mindfulness within existing curricula ensures that mental health becomes an integral part of the learning journey rather than a separate module. Cultivating emotional intelligence through activities and discussions empowers students to recognize, understand, and manage their emotions while also fostering empathy for others.

Additionally, engaging parents and the wider community in mental health initiatives creates a cohesive and supportive network. Workshops and seminars can be organized to share the philosophical principles and practices adopted within the school, ensuring broader dissemination of these valuable approaches to mental well-being.

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The Living Core: Behaviours that Matter

In essence, the cultivation of mental health awareness in schools transcends textbooks and sporadic lectures; it thrives within the daily behaviors and attitudes that permeate the educational ecosystem. The language employed by educators, the demonstration of positive behavior, the embrace of mindfulness, and the infusion of philosophical principles collectively create a dynamic core that resonates throughout learning institutions. This dynamic core encompasses the importance of language as a catalyst, where uplifting words foster a positive mental atmosphere. It emphasizes modeling resilience, as teachers serve as mentors showcasing healthy coping mechanisms for students to bounce back from setbacks. Establishing compassionate connections in the school community fosters a sense of belonging that significantly contributes to students’ mental well-being. Incorporating mindful moments into daily routines, whether through brief mindfulness exercises or moments of reflection, ingrains these practices into the school’s cultural fabric. Importantly, mental health awareness requires consistent reinforcement, not a one-time initiative; thus, regular check-ins, open dialogues, and ongoing efforts to create a positive environment are essential for its long-term sustainability.

Scientific Validation: The Neuroscientific Lens

The integration of mental health practices into school curricula isn’t just a philosophical endeavour; it finds validation in neuroscientific research. Studies have shown that mindfulness practices can positively impact brain structure and function, enhancing areas related to emotional regulation, self-awareness, and attention. NLP, through its focus on language and behaviour patterns, aligns with neuroscientific principles that emphasize the malleability of neural pathways through intentional language use and positive reinforcement.

Mental health awareness in schools transcends the boundaries of theory; it is a living, breathing entity nurtured by the daily interactions and behaviours of everyone within the educational landscape. By weaving the threads of NLP, Buddhist philosophy, and holistic educational practices, schools can cultivate a flourishing garden of minds nurturing resilience, compassion, and mindfulness. As we embrace the living core of mental health awareness, we pave the way for students to not only excel academically but to thrive emotionally and socially, preparing them for a future where the health of the mind is as valued as any other aspect of education.

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Authored by: Ms. Sonal Ahuja, Founder, House of Learning

NOTE- On the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2023 observed on October 10th, ScooNews dedicated this week to #ScooNewsforMentalHealth-  a campaign amplifying the voices of the education fraternity on the Inclusion of mental health in our curriculum. 

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Opinion

Mental Health and Well-Being in K-12: Strategies for Supporting Student Wellness

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Authored by: Mr Naman Jain, Education Policy Expert, and Director (Development), Silverline Prestige School, Ghaziabad

The 21st century is witnessing an unprecedented focus on the holistic development of students. No longer is education solely about academic excellence; it has evolved to encompass the well-being of students as a paramount concern. As we observe World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2023, it is imperative that we delve into the strategies that K-12 institutions can adopt to nurture the mental health and well-being of their students.

The journey of a student in K-12 is not without its challenges. Academic pressures, peer dynamics, societal expectations, and the digital age’s constant connectivity can create a perfect storm for stress and anxiety. While these pressures have always existed, the awareness of their potential impact on mental health is now more acute than ever. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) survey revealed that 12-13 percent of students in India suffer from psychological, emotional, and behavioural conditions.

It is essential to recognize that mental health issues among students are not rare anomalies but rather common occurrences that deserve attention and support. An empathetic understanding of these issues is the first step toward addressing them effectively.

 

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Strategies for Supporting Student Wellness

  • Promoting Open Dialogue: The foundation of any mental health initiative in K-12 should be open and empathetic communication. Schools should foster environments where students feel comfortable discussing their emotional well-being. By normalising conversations about mental health, we break the stigma associated with seeking help. How can a school do that: Establishing peer support groups where students can share their experiences and concerns without judgement, Holding regular Wellness sessions once a week, and create a club for mental healthcare?

 

  • Mental Health Education: Incorporating mental health education into the curriculum is vital. Students must develop the skills to identify and manage their emotions. Education should encompass stress management techniques, emotional intelligence, and resilience building. How can a school do that: Introducing age-appropriate courses on emotional well-being and mental health, workshops or weekly classes on Moral studies and health education. 

 

  • Professional Counselling Services: Schools must have qualified counselors on campus to provide immediate support to students facing emotional challenges. These professionals play a crucial role in identifying early signs of mental health issues and providing appropriate guidance. How Can a School Do That: Regular counseling sessions as part of the school routine, Building Mentor mentee relationships.

 

  • Physical Well-being: Mental health and physical well-being are intricately linked. Encouraging regular physical activity and a balanced diet contributes significantly to emotional stability. How can a school do that: Organising physical education programs, Once a week- Yoga day and promoting healthy eating habits, scheduling a 10 min fruit break. 

 

  • Creating Safe Spaces: Designating safe spaces within the school premises where students can retreat when feeling overwhelmed is essential. These spaces should be quiet, serene, and conducive to self-reflection. How can a school do that: Establishing mindfulness corners or gardens within the school, birds, and a peaceful and creative room.

 

  • Teacher Training: Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping a student’s emotional landscape. Providing teachers with training in recognizing and responding to students’ emotional needs is paramount. How can a school do that: Regular workshops on emotional intelligence and effective communication for teachers.

The well-being of our students is a shared responsibility that extends beyond the classroom. It requires a holistic approach that integrates mental health and emotional well-being into the fabric of K-12 education. When we prioritise the mental health of our students, we not only prepare them for academic success but also equip them with the tools to navigate life’s challenges with resilience and grace. On this World Mental Health Day, let us pledge to create nurturing environments in our K-12 institutions where every student feels valued, heard, and supported.

Authored by: Mr Naman Jain, Education Policy Expert, and Director (Development), Silverline Prestige School, Ghaziabad

NOTE- On the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2023 observed on October 10th, ScooNews dedicated this week to #ScooNewsforMentalHealth-  a campaign amplifying the voices of the education fraternity on the Inclusion of mental health in our curriculum. 

 

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