The National Education Policy 2020 emphasises on the holistic development of the learner. This policy is in tandem with the aspirational goals of 21st century education, and the Sustainable Development Goal 4, grounded in Indian history and character. The policy suggests that experiential learning should be the means to expedite the process of teaching learning at all stages of school education.
The new scenario has transformed our classrooms in a way that experiential leaning, competency, developmental goals, learning outcome, toys, and suggested pedagogy as an innovative collaboration shall act as the watershed moment to overhaul the schools as the centres of excellence.
The NEP-2020 is supported by a strong implementation plan identifying the tasks and the timelines for completion of the tasks. This plan is known as SARTHAQ; (the Students and Teachers Holistic Advancement through Quality Education).
To raise the super structure of the New Education Policy, Foundational Literacy and Numeracy has been set as the base. FLN is currently the National Mission, declared in 2021-22 to be achieved by the year 20 27 by each States/UTs; The tools for measurement of yearly progress of FLN has also been disseminated in the form of guidelines.
The mission aims at training; teachers/heads of Schools/Principals/education administrators. It aims at development of teaching learning material (TLM) in all languages, including mother tongue/home languages. The plan also includes defined and coded/measurable Learning Outcomes (based on NCERT Learning Outcomes). The FLN guidelines primarily focus on three developmental goals, and competencies as the driving force.
Three developmental goals are; children maintain good health and well-being. children become effective communicators and children become involved learners and connect with their environment. The five domains catered by these DGs are: Social, Emotional, Physical, Cognitive and Language.
These developmental goals are mapped with the competencies. Instead of being knowledge-focused, competency-based processes are built around the skills necessary to carry out specified tasks.
Suppose the specific competency is to “make a telephone call to an office to complain about a service”. What skills would be needed to complete such a task?
Several come immediately to mind, including: the ability to read and understand telephone numbers; the ability to identify oneself when answering or calling; the ability to ask to speak to someone; the ability to respond to a request to hold the line; the ability to give a message or respond to an offer to take a message; the ability to express opinions politely following the target language conventional cultural norms; the ability to use past tenses; and the ability to provide relevant information. In this example, daily lessons would be planned around information and activities that addressed these individual subcomponents.
At each step along the way, students would receive information providing feedback about their individual progress toward mastering the competency.
Role of Teachers
Planning becomes a central part of the teaching process. First, each competency must be identified. Each competency must be subdivided into the relevant skills.
Modules/Lessons must then be developed which allow students the opportunity to learn and practice those skills. Teachers must determine exactly what and how well students must perform in order to master the competency.
Specific rubrics assessing each competency must be developed and made public to the students from the beginning of the lesson (Auerbach, 1986; Richards & Rogers, 2001).
Teachers will have to devote large amounts of time to creating activities related to the specific skills necessary to fulfil the competency requirements. Significant time will also be required to assess students and provide specific, directed, and personalized feedback (Richards & Rogers, 2001).
Role of students
The role of the student must also change. Students will no longer be able to rely only on the teacher and the classroom to be the primary sources of information. Instead, students become apprentices. Their role will be to integrate, produce, and extend knowledge (Jones et al., 1994). Students take an active part in their own learning and work toward being autonomous learners.
They learn to think critically and to adapt and transfer knowledge across a variety of settings. Because expectations and standards are clear and precise, students have to be committed to continuing to work on each competency, mastering it, and then progressing to another (Richards & Rogers, 2001; Sturgis, 2012).
Students may be resistant to this approach in the beginning, especially if they do not see any real need for learning the language. Successful classroom interaction depends on student participation. Students need to find ways to motivate themselves and find ways to apply information to their own lives and to integrate it into the classroom. Students must be willing to challenge, to question, and to initiate in the CBLT classroom (Marcelino, 2005).
Activities, Materials, and Syllabus
Class materials must be oriented to doing rather than knowing. There shouldn’t be few exercises that require students to fill in the blank, circle the right answer, or specifically test only grammar. Rather, each task should be developed around a real-world situation requiring the use of some or all of the components of the specified competency.
For example, if the competency is “giving personal information”, then tasks must require students to use knowledge about self to produce such information. Students might practice by creating a family tree, talking about favourite pastimes, or describing what they did over the weekend. Notice that the student is required to do something with the language (Richard & Rogers, 2001).
Each of these activities requires the student to present knowledge about self. The activities in the CBLT classroom must be oriented toward the ability to successfully complete a real-world task. The most effective materials will be authentic sample texts related to a specific competency (e.g., completed job applications; recordings of a complaint about a service). The materials help provide students with the essential skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours required to meet the competency standards.
The next shift in the process of teaching learning is to map the competencies with the learning outcomes. Learning outcomes, in the NCERT framework have been defined as “assessment standards indicating the expected level of learning that children should achieve for that class”.
Simply put, learning outcomes indicate what a child should, ideally, have learned by the time he or she moves from a grade to a higher one – or what the outcome of the year’s education should have been.
Learning outcomes are not just about testing a child for comprehension or rote memorization linked to the syllabus (which has been the practice till now) but about testing a student’s understanding. This includes the capacity to learn, make meaning of, build upon, and apply knowledge gained inside the classroom.
Finally, the focus has come to experiential learning which is the next stage after the FLN mission. This stage focuses on learning through personal experiences by the children, it is learning by doing. Introducing of toy pedagogy at this stage is one of the revolutionary developments. In particular indigenous toys are seen as one of the viable mediums for enhancing class room transaction to the desired goals of the 21st century learners. Children are naturally drawn towards toys, driven by an innate curiosity, fascination or simply the desire to explore and know. The educational and transformational value of toys cannot be overlooked.
Development of basic sensory-motor skills to mental agility, toys also help in developing social skills as much as being a source of emotional comfort to the child.
The fascination of toys is not specific to the modern world alone. Many of these objects which we see around us –spinning tops, rattles, pull toys, dolls, figurines of animals, humans, objects of day-to-day use, musical or movable toys, board games, etc, are rooted in history since the dawn of human civilization, although the shape, pattern, colour, and composition have been continually adapted to the changing times.
The toys help us to learn creativity and imagination. The toys represent miniature versions of the social reality. Through toys it is easy to establish links between past and Present. Children are introduced to their own as well as national culture and start taking pride in their identity. The indigenous toys give them emotional satisfaction because they depict the familiar figures and the children can easily connect with them.
Toys can help to bring in different languages, dresses, music, folk songs, stories, folk tales, food, puppets, which represent children’s families and communities. Indigenous toys are cost effective because they are made from the locally available eco-friendly materials for instance waste clothes of tailoring units, paper toys from waste papers, cloth and rag. Wood, bamboo, newspaper, waste materials Seeds, feathers, nut-shell are some commonly used materials in making indigenous toys.
Engagement of parents /families in TBP: Parents can help in creating toys from waste materials, extending volunteer support to schools in making toys, extending support to schools in tapping resources and collections. They can share the old toys with schools, community and creating Toy Libraries or ‘Khilona Bank”. They can help in sharing toy making skills, with other parents, community members.
It is high time to map toys with content/concept/Skills/suggested pedagogy, and learning outcome. As an example, the teachers can follow the template below: Name of the toy, concept/skill/learning outcomes, Toy image and suggested pedagogy. For Example:
Content: Communication Skills
Competencies: Develops vocabulary and context of use.
Name of toy: Traditional dolls from different materials, masks, shadow puppets, string puppets, miniature figurines, vehicles, animals.
Learning outcomes: Responds to comprehension questions, related to stories and poems, in home language, English/Hindi sign language, orally or in writing (phrases, short sentences) describes the physical features of toys etc.
For a language class, having students draw a poster or chart describing the human body and identifying the major systems (e.g., nervous system, digestive system) would not be a good real-world assessment choice. Very few people in the world would be required to draw such a chart simply for the purpose of drawing a chart.
Having students describe a medical problem would be a better choice. People are often required in daily life to provide a description of pain, where it hurts, what makes it hurt, and so on. It is clear that knowledge about the language (e.g., the parts of the human body, present tense) is required to complete the specific competency (i.e., explaining a medical problem to a doctor) but the assessment measures the ability to use that knowledge in the context.
Whatever your view, it is clear that education mapped with learning outcomes, toys, competencies and developmental goals is more popular than ever.
If it is to be successful, both students and teachers need to step out of their comfort zones and adopt new roles. In the short term, this unfamiliarity may create uncertainty and discomfort but as classes progress the benefits should become clear.
If, however, students and teachers try to adopt a competency-based approach without making the necessary changes in their own behaviour, the results are likely to be unsuccessful.
On the other hand, if both embrace their new roles, they are likely to find learning becomes more effective and useful in the advent of new job roles, new aspirations, new goals, and new dreams of 21st century.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.