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"Workshop on Constructivism"

Madhuri Aher“It gives me pleasure to present before you the report of the training on Constructivism (Rachanavadi Shikshan Pranaali).

The workshop on ‘constructivism’ arranged by veteran educationist Dr. Ramesh Panse was an eye opener for me. Acclaimed personalities in the field of education delivered the lectures on various subjects.

The workshop began with a brief explanation by Dr. Ramesh Panse about ‘field of education’ and how the education system developed over the years. Sir also asked questions like “Are you satisfied with your work?”, “Do you think your method of teaching is right?”. At that time, I was not aware that I would know new methods of learning.

1st session focused on behaviourism. What is behaviourism? the experiments performed earlier in this context, its implementation in education field and effects on education was described in detail.

What I have learnt about behaviourism is that, all the experiments were carried out on animals like rabbit, rat, dog, etc. these experiments were done in specific situations and reactions of the animals were recorded. This means a situation is created intentionally so that the desired results are acquired after continuous experiments. So how can these experiments be put onto practice with human beings? Moreover, behaviourism was first introduced in a foreign country and it reached India through the Britishers. When Britishers arrived in India their intention was clear. They wanted to flourish in their business in India. So, for that they needed certain type of people for jobs in their business. People who will work like robots. So, they introduced an industrial way of schooling and this way behaviourism entered in India.

Have you observed the horse tied to the carriage? The coachman ties flaps on both sides of the eyes of horse to restrict its vision so that the horse looks in one direction. Behaviourism exactly works in this way.

In behaviourism, there are punishments, prizes, competition and mugging up which is harmful to an individual’s overall development. In ‘Behaviourism’, external behaviour is given more importance than meaningful understanding of mind.

In 1950 – 60, the scholars in education field started taking objection on the method of behaviourism. They pointed out the flaws in behaviourism. After the innovation of computer, the method of ‘Cognitivism’ evolved. Great inventions made in Biology and specially in Neurology gave importance to human mind and thinking process.

Have you ever thought how a baby starts recognising his/ her mother? It is because a mother is always with her child so her image gets fixed in the baby’s brain, as it continuously sees her. This image is called ‘schema’. ‘Cognitivism’ gave importance to an image i.e. schema. There are certain schemas already existing in child’s mind and additional information received by the mind enhances child’s knowledge about schema.

Cognitivism focuses on letting child gather knowledge on its own and not just by mugging up.

Thus, ‘A child’s brain is a plain slate’ or मूल मातीचा गोळा असतो all these presumptions that I had come to an end when I learnt about the thinking process of human beings, in Cognitivism.

Generally, adults believe that they themselves need to teach each and every bit to their child. But in reality, a child learns from its owns experiences. Every adult must know how a child’s brain understands the things? How brain develops? In short, every adult must know how a child learns, how it grows, how it behaves, which factors are necessary for child’s development? What exactly a child is? & ‘what isn’t?’

Children should be given the freedom to express themselves, only then we will understand what they have perceived. By this we can give the child additional information and enhance child’s knowledge. More details are added to an image after the child encounters series of experiences and slowly the schema/ image develops. This process is called learning. Thus, learning is continuous process. Even though the image remains same, the experiences related to it differ.

What is necessary for process of learning of a child?

1) Physical fitness (diet, rest)

2) Sensory based experience

3) Curiosity

In short, from Cognitivism, I learnt that a child must not be taught but should be made to learn on his own. As a facilitator, it is my duty to provide children healthy and sound environment which will arouse their curiosity.

Otherwise according to Jean Piaget, ’when you teach a child something, you take away forever his chance of discovering it by himself.’

Constructivism: - Theory of Constructivism is developed by a great theorist Jean Piaget. Constructivism focuses on giving more and more experiences to children and they should be able to express these experiences through communication. The first six years of childhood are the most important years as the development of the child’s brain is fast during this period. So, more experiences should be given to the child at this age. Also, these experiences should be equally challenging for the child. To achieve this, we must follow five ‘E’s of constructive experience. They are,

1) Engage
2) Explore
3) Explain
4) Elaborate
5) Evaluate

Out of these, all except ‘Explain’ should be performed by the child itself. The only work of the teacher is to explain ‘when necessary’.

The child should be able to express what new he learns. So, language plays crucial role in the learning process. Therefore, the child should be given maximum exposure to language. The best way child intakes or learns language is by continuously listening it. So, in early days of childhood, more importance must be given to the child’s auditory experiences instead of writing or reading.

Ample time should be provided to the child during its learning process as the ability to grasp varies from child to child. Similarly, the child should be given as much time as he requires for bringing out or presenting what he has learnt.

Group activities are equally important in the learning process as the child also observes what others are doing and starts trying it out himself. Social qualities like waiting for his turn, helping out others and cooperativeness are also developed.

Emotional security is an important element for smooth learning process. According to this, the teacher’s behaviour should be as such that the child will feel safe and secured when he or she approaches her.

The part of the whole workshop that I personally enjoyed the most was ‘How the brain works?’ by Neetu Pandit and Dr. Dinesh Nehte. Neetu madam explained us how the nerve cells function in a very interesting way.

We were to mould a brain out of clay by ourselves to understand the different parts of it. We dissected our clay brains and she showed us how each part was connected to one another.

I realised then that happy memories or fun experience is what fuels the brain to work. I understood that happy, fun environment is utmost necessary while teaching children. They should be given the freedom to play or move from one place to another while learning so that learning does not become boring. Here, the activities designed by teachers must be interesting and should be physical. More the amount of experience given to the child , more will brain works in an efficient way. Experiences are necessary so that the child’s brain, at very young age, starts processing fast. In this way from this workshop of constructivism, I realised that a child needs to be given his own time and pace to understand the concept. Once the concept is clear, further development occurs rapidly.

I have myself started implementing the methods taught in the workshop. Pre-school child’s attention span is not more than 3 minutes. So, when I feel that children are getting bored, I play different games or sing songs to keep them engrossed and enthusiastic. After this workshop I started believing in group activities and how they benefit the child’s development. I don’t say that the chalk and board method is entirely wrong but I believe that practical teaching is more effective. At the end, I have understood that Learning is happy and cheerful process and I would , instead of teacher, be a facilitator to my students.

Madhuri Aher

Saraswati Mandir Trust, Thane

saraswati mandir trust thane