Insights From An EduLeader

School, being one of the agents of socialisation, plays a significant role in a child’s life. However, the dynamics of teaching-learning have undergone a sea change in recent years. Today’s institutions must have an integrated focus on academics and on health, family, and community engagement. 

With this perspective, our editorial team talked to Aparna Sharma (Principal, Jiva Public School). 

Here are some excerpts from the conversation with a leader and educator fostering the values of Constructivism, Team Work, Integrity, Innovation and Cooperative Learning in her school. 

Decoding School Community

Schools promote a sense of community through their culture. Everyone needs to have a shared purpose and collective investment from the students and teachers to the staff and administrators. Parents are also an integral part of the system as they have a nuanced understanding of their child’s behaviour patterns.  They can be the bridge in disseminating knowledge.

In the broadest sense, the school community includes everyone learning, teaching, and working in the school. But the contributions of these actors are not visible promptly. It takes time and continuous effort to bring about tangible changes.

Socialisation Pre-2020 & Now

Earlier, our understanding of social interactions was limited to in-person exchanges. But now, as the dynamics have shifted, how should this definition evolve?

If we say that the social nature of our children has changed in the online environment, it reflects our thought process over the years. We have grown up in a different kind of environment. But we must know that children can adapt to change easily and take it as a given. This is a new experience for them, and they are finding ways to be comfortable with it. Some students feel liberated by the pressures of uniform rule, coming late, etc.”

Now that everyone is at home, we can see sibling and parent relationships coming to the forefront and children becoming wiser in the process. “They are using the skills of negotiating with the unknown, problem solving with the unseen. They are learning to control and dictate their learning.”

The Role of Teachers

Nowadays, education is no longer about what the teacher wants to teach. It is about engaging the students in what they want to learn.

Earlier, teachers were controlling everything in a four-walled setup. They could look students in the eye, demand their presence, and so on. In the online space, children may be parallelly surfing through the internet or have already gathered that information. Therefore, teachers need to be one step ahead. They need to be well-equipped with handling the ‘why’ questions.” 

Social & Environmental Consciousness

To be active and productive members of the community themselves, children should participate in civic activities. 

“At Jiva Public School in Faridabad, we follow the SOE philosophy, wherein students are encouraged to take care of the Self, Other, and Environment. Firstly, improving the self includes setting their daily schedule, planning their diet, and improving their physical and mental health. Secondly, they have to take out time to cater to the needs of others around them. Thirdly, they have to engage in saving water, fixing leaky taps, monitoring water and electricity use, etc. Students also plant saplings and put up bird feeders in the balcony or backyards, depending on the space in their homes.” 

Personalised Learning & Growth

Content knowledge is not the be-all and end-all anymore. “Students must have the skills to deliver what is expected out of them once they venture out into the world.” To accelerate this transition, schools should provide multiple avenues for children to discover their potential. “We have a program called ‘Multiple Natures’ at Jiva School. Nine natures help you identify your personality type. And after that, you can identify your skill gaps more conveniently and start working towards your career goals.” We need to facilitate protective learning environments where skills are nurtured, and students get to explore and experiment. 

Message for the Youth 

It is not always the case that our advice is old-fashioned or not applicable in modern times. Just like the elders accept the change and modify ourselves according to your needs, you should also respect their experience. Share what you know and help us as we help you.

Aparna Sharma is the Principal of Jiva Public School, Faridabad. She has a demonstrated history of working in e-learning and designing innovative teaching-learning methods. She is also passionately involved in the betterment of the lives of Children with Special Needs. She is a Gold Medalist in M.Sc. (Family Resource Management) from J.D. Birla Institute of Home Science, Jadavpur University.

This interview originally appeared in the ‘Community’ edition of The Plus magazine.