Random thoughts on beginners'
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
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
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!