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A shift from learning by rote

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Muaz Shabandri / 2 May 2012

New method of learning introduces single book system emphasising holistic development

Textbooks and learning guides are a big part of a child’s learning experience at school. With a different textbook for each subject, teachers make the most of imparting knowledge to students through these books.

As the new academic year gets underway in schools, most parents have already made a dash to book stores. While the same trend continues year on year in Dubai, a few schools in India have started experimenting with a single-textbook system.

“The results have been phenomenal,” says Dr Vijayam Ravi, who introduced the single book system in two Mumbai-based schools.

A combined learning textbook was created for students in their formative years of learning as they had to let go of heavy bags and the burden of carrying a separate book for each subject.

“Initially there was resistance from parents who did not see the logic behind introducing one textbook with divisions based on subject.

However, with an improvement in student grasp and understanding of basic concepts, parents realised the need for it,” said Dr Vijayam who is also the chairman of the Academy for Global Education Services (AGES).

Students in the formative years of learning are given a textbook as a tool to enable learning rather than emphasising its role as the only basis of study. Classrooms were then divided into thematic learning groups who used the textbook to supplement learning activities.

“Most parents and schools prepare young students in such a way that their development is focused on succeeding in the Grade 10 examinations.

This is not the right way to help develop a holistic education system,” she adds.

While higher-education classes in schools are heavily reliant on textbooks and guides, even teachers base learning activities entirely on books. Most teachers use the text-book as the single most important source of learning for students.

“There are different books to practice reading and writing in the early years. It would be much easier, if the children had one book as they can concentrate better,” said Meenal, a parent.

Higher-level learning questions, problem-solving and skill development are important areas of child development as a text-book centric environment can diminish the chances of a student’s well-rounded development. Add to it the burden of completing the requirements of a curriculum and the need to score good grades, the challenge of reading thick books and memorising concepts becomes even more important.

With the introduction of technology in classrooms, the iPad and learning tablets will reduce the role of traditional books and bring a better learning resource to pupils and teachers. It will be a matter of time before we see the results of this new type of learning based on lesser books, but definitely more knowledge.

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