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Saturday, 7 August 2010

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Random thoughts on beginners' education

Selection of students for Year One admissions for next year will begin soon. It is hoped that the process would be smooth and transparent this year. The authorities should ensure that it is so.

It is necessary to focus attention of the education authorities and policy makers on what follows after admissions - the teaching and learning processes.

For any child the beginning of his or her school life is a turning point in life. Having grown in the home atmosphere under the love and care of parents he or she now enters a different environment in which the teachers take charge of their care. The first impressions and the first steps in learning would create lasting impressions and will have even life-long remembrances good or bad.

That is why content and method of teaching matters. Learning should not be a burden but fun. It would be futile to load the child's mind with volumes and volumes of information that cannot be grasped.

Certain schools and teachers are in the habit of prescribing so many home assignments that the exhausted child has to continue the drudgery at home.

Besides in the rat race for learning English and getting through the Year Five Scholarship Examination parents also push the child to attend afternoon tuition classes until dusk. This not only tires the child but also robs him of playtime, rest and recreation. Though the result may be extra marks at tests it would affect the development of the child's personality as he or she would be under stress throughout the day.

It is also necessary to examine the primary school syllabuses and weed out the unnecessary detailed knowledge that has no practical or immediate value. It is no secret that as the child proceeds from the known to the unknown new knowledge should be given in installments and in ways that he or she could assimilate it easily.

The focus in the beginning should be to develop the child's cognitive process rather than load his or her brain with heaps and heaps of data and knowledge.

In this process the teaching of language (mother tongue) and mathematics is of fundamental importance. It was reported that a large number of students had failed in these two subjects at the GCE Ordinary Level Examination. Hence the need to improve teaching in the two subjects. Mathematics is often taught in unattractive ways. Weakness in these two subjects affects the assimilation of knowledge in other subject areas too.

There is also no concerned effort to enhance the child's creativity and his ability for innovation. In developed countries special tests are scientifically devised and applied to enhance creativity. Rote learning that is prevalently used in our school system blunts the creative capabilities of children.

It is necessary to remember that there are very often more than one solution to a problem and many ways of answering a question. Everything is not black and white or every question cannot have a simple Yes or No as an answer. The learning and teaching process should reflect the multiplicity and diversity of life.


Astrology for convicts

It is learnt that the Welikada prison has started teaching astrology to a select group of long-term convicts including those with life sentences. It is strange why this indigenous method of rehabilitation was not thought of earlier. It may be because 'home grown' is in vogue these days from aphrodisiacs to economic development.

Perhaps astrologers could not bargain for a better deal. For once they have a ready audience and eager students. Naturally these convicts would like to find out for themselves what fate awaits them and when they could get out of prison.

As to their chances of practising the science learnt after release, it is a moot question whether they could enter a profession whose practitioners outnumber the demand. Perhaps they would stand a better chance if they add WP (Welikada Prison) after their name in their business promotion material. Good luck to the budding astrologers!

Attack on judiciary damages country’s reputation - Minister Peiris

One of the fundamental problems in the country with regard to the administration of justice is the long delay that occurs in dispensing justice. The introduction of this legislation is one of several measures which the Government is taking in order to address this problem.

Full Story

The Morning Inspection

Have you seen rain in Afghanistan?

I know there are floods in Pakistan and you might wonder if I got the country name in the title wrong. No, I did not. It is raining in Afghanistan, I was told by a man who died of a heart attack in 1956, at the age of 59. Bertold Brecht was his name.

Full Story

On MY Watch

Targeted killing is new US focus:

No plans for Afghan democracy - Biden

The death of Thamilchelvam and the other fighting cadres of the LTTE in this attack led to a roar of protest, both here and abroad, about attacking journalists at work. Many ‘watchdogs’ of media freedom too rushed in to protest,

Full Story

 

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