December 2005 Agrahayana 1927 PD 5T SU
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I have had the privilege of participating in a remarkable process of social deliberation initiated by NCERT to focus public attention on what should be taught to our children and how. In the course of this wide-ranging churning of ideas and expectations, I have worked closely with a large number of very special individuals for the preparation of the National Curriculum Framework presented in this document. The names of these individuals are given in this document. There is much analysis and a lot of advice. All this is accompanied by frequent reminders that specificities matter, that the mother tongue is a critical conduit, that social, economic and ethnic backgrounds are important for enabling children to construct their own knowledge. Media and educational technologies are recognised as significant, but the teacher remains central. Diversities are emphasised but never viewed as problems. There is a continuing recognition that societal learning is an asset and that the formal curriculum will be greatly enriched by integrating with that. There is a celebration of plurality and an understanding that within a broad framework plural approaches would lead to enhanced creativity. The document frequently revolves around the question of curriculum load on children. In this regard we seem to have fallen into a pit. We have bartered away understanding for memory-based, short-term information accumulation. This must be reversed, particularly now that the mass of what could be memorised has begun to explode. We need to give our children some taste of understanding, following which they would be able to learn and create their own versions of knowledge as they go out to meet the world of bits, images and transactions of life. Such a taste would make the present of our children wholesome, creative and enjoyable; they would not be traumatised by the excessive burden of information that is required merely for a short time before the hurdle race we call examination. The document suggests some ways of getting out of this self-imposed adversity. Achieving some degree of success in this area would also signify that we have learnt to appreciate the capacity for learning and the futility of filling up children’s memory banks with information that is best kept as ink marks on paper or bits on a computer disc....