Ramjas dugdugi nahi bajata

Ramjas dugdugi nahi bajata

‘Dugdugi bajana’ as in branding has become extremely crucial for a school to survive in the list of distinguished list. Insightful analysis by Mrs Rachna Pant, Principal, Ramjas School, R K Puram, Sec 4

Don’t you think that corporatization is taking a toll on the essence of education? State-of-the-art classrooms, wifi-enabled auditorium, world-class swimming pool…these are highlighted more in the advertisements rather than education standard and teachers’ quality.

You are right, but, parents should be aware and do something regarding this. Not all that glitters can be gold. They should keep in mind the fact that children from remote villages can also achieve success without any kind of privilege. Now, if they want to go by brand, they have to pay a price. Parents should understand that school is a place to sustain and generate creativity and not to show status.

Ramjas management doesn’t believe in showing off. We are one of the top four schools in south Delhi. We run seventeen clubs in this school, our children are excelling in sports, we are probably the only school in India where any school function has been live-streamed. Our academic results are also very good. All our classrooms are  equipped with smart boards, 160 CCTV cameras are constantly monitoring and we do not levy any extra charge on students. Hum dugdugi nahi bajate.

Parents still prefer schools with glittery advertisements. We are paying the price for not brandishing our name. We still believe in working humbly.

Dealing with parents is a crucial factor in school education. What is your opinion?

It is. Parents’ mindset is changing. I do not know where would all these lead to! Picking up cudgels over petty issues will not help the child. Parents should allow them to adapt and adjust. This over protectiveness will not allow a child to develop resilience. They will never be emotionally strong and good decision makers. It is important for them to learn to cope with failures and learn from mistakes. Concern is good. But, over concern may harm a child. If this current trend is allowed to continue we may need more counsellors/psychologists in the near future.

I advise the parents not to pamper their wards, rather they should be taught some basic life skills and value of work from childhood. Counselling parents has become as important as counselling students. They need to be more in sync with the school, attend PTMs and other interactive sessions organised for them. Parenting need to stop spoon feeding their child. Hand holding to some extent is good. But, parents have to teach their child to take baby steps towards indepedence. It will be beneficial if some workshops and trainings were organised for the parents.

A lot is said about the role reversal of the teachers. They need to work in and with society while making sure to shape future generations. Does this responsibility only belong to the teachers? What should ideally be their changed role?

It is a fact that the role of the teachers needs to be reversed. The importance they used to get earlier because of their knowledge, is not being accorded now. Information, now, is just a click away, and that too free of cost. As a facilitator, teachers should change their way of teaching. A child, now, might be more updated or technologically sounder than a teacher.

Secondly, chalk and talk method should be altered with the flipped learning process. Content is pre-provided and rather than mere textbook reading, there should be deliberation in class—what the students have perceived, what their analysis is and finally the teachers’ views and tips. Teachers should join in the deliberation process as one of the learners.

In a stereotypical class, students are usually passive listeners. But, in deliberation, any concept gets embedded in a child’s mind as there is an active discussion and everybody takes part in it.

Other than that, students’ span of attention has reduced due to various reasons. Now, the teacher has to get the attention of a child somehow. Use of e-learning, media, smart board, videos, clippings, audios has become imperative at regular intervals to create, sustain and generate interest in the child in any topic that is being taught. It is to be a mixed-method—a little bit to be narrated by the teacher, a bit of collaborative discussion, flipped learning, smartboard and last but not the least is a project. Projects help a child to experience things. This hands-on method is far better than chalk and talk or rote learning.

Teachers have to be pro-active and productive. They have to find the latest means available. I consider them lucky as so many sources of information are available now. Earlier we had to brainstorm a lot about any new initiative. Positive use of technology will help a lot. Instead of resisting the use of mobile, we should use it positively.

Do all the members of your staff are equally proactive? Five fingers can never be the same. 

You are right. They can be broadly divided into three types: pro-active, lazy and fence-sitters. Pro-actives are already on track, nothing to do much. Every institution runs with some pro-active staff. A certain per cent of lazy heads are there, however nothing wrong in it if they do their duties well. The remaining group are the fence-sitters. The head of the institution should know how to bring them on board, either by praising the pro-active employees or by rebuking the lazy ones. A principal should know his/her team members well and also how to handle each one of them; whether by motivating or supporting or giving more responsibility.

How much time do you dedicate in motivating your team?

We have a stay back of one and a half hour, twice a week when I connect with the staff collectively or individually.

How important is classroom observation? Do you go for it?  

I go, but honestly, not very often, as my eyes are always on CCTVs and it has both audio and video facility. Classroom observation results the best when the teacher does not know that he/she is being observed. CCTV helps in this.

A principal is supposed to do a lot of administrative work apart from being an academicians. But yes, classroom observation is important.  

How do the staffs take it?

Some take it positively while for some others, it is a way of finding fault. I have made it clear that it is my job to guide them if they are wrong. But, in the process of communicating, I always try to maintain the dignity of the teacher. I talk to them privately about the issues and there is a complete hand-holding till the issue is resolved. Leading an institution is not easy. One has to know the tricks and tips. 

How long have you been associated with this school?

My association is for about 11 years as of now. I had joined in 2008.

I wanted a holistic all-round development of the students.  Gradually sports and other co-curricular activities were included. This year, the basketball tournament of Ramjas was live-streamed and people all over the world saw it. In India, probably this is the first sports program that was live-streamed. Other than basketball, we have excelled in football, badminton, shooting, swimming, indoor rowing and what not. We have received over 24 prizes at the zonal competition.

My management, luckily, has always been supportive. The only condition was that the result should not suffer. Now we are one of the top schools in South Delhi. I take small steps but once taken, I never walk back words. 

Indian curriculum is content heavy. Do you agree?

No, I do not think so. Certain parts could be removed, replaced or reshuffled, that is it. In our times, board exams were in two shifts and we managed it well. I believe that the more you exercise your brain, the sharper it becomes. Brainstorming has become highly essential.

Yes, I agree that we should not teach something old and obsolete. There should be visionaries who can understand what is relevant for the future and make the children future-ready.

Unfortunately, those who make curriculum, they don’t teach at school level and those who set question papers they hardly go for evaluation. Visionaries should help in developing content which will make the students future ready. Unbiased people should make necessary changes.

What change will the education policy be bringing in?

Education policy is not wrong. Let it bring some change because change is the only constant. Earlier school education was more rote-based, now it is more hands-on, project-based, experiential  learning. The more proactive a child will become, the better it is for the future generation because jobs are multi-dimensional now. A company director should know finance management, people management, HR, publicity other than his/her subject. Projects help in this type of concept building. The curriculum should be in tune with what the future is going to be. However, it is not about paperwork only, implementation matters.

Knowledge can come from any direction. CBSE has taken several futuristic initiatives and we hope that they bring about the necessary change in the current system.

Would you like to share any message with our readers?

Be passionate about what you are doing. Believe in it. Go for it. Success will automatically come.