Exploring the potential of digital tools to enhance natural learning and retaining and developing local knowledge system

Context

The way future of education is predicted and is likely to follow is along the digital technology path which will be a mere extension of the existing paradigm. All the struggles are merely to change from text mode to digital mode. It seems to change everything at the surface level but in essence the process is same and this illusion of change will be far more harmful. The change that will happen is that the student will have access to never ending flow of information masked as knowledge.

 External authority of knowledge remains and only the process of accessing it changes.

 It really doesn’t challenge some basic fundamental truths about our being-ness. It will only further increase the distance between man and nature and cause further alienation and fragmentation. In the modern educational paradigm there is no out of the box scenario. It can only move from one box to the other. Text codification is being replaced by digital codification. Knowledge still is kept outside the experiential verification of our being.

It is in context that the experiment is being conducted to see whether we can use digital technologies in helping us to understand, reflect what we are learning subconsciously.

An average Indian woman from the middle class knows how to cook about 70 things. This is often achieved by the time they are around 15 years. They also know how much quantity to take depending upon the number of people eating and the proportion of salt, chilly and other masala. All this they do without being conscious about the mathematics and other sciences involved. Documentation of the process and reflection might help them to understand the laws involved. Similar attempts can be done with children and also other knowledge that exist in the community.

What

As an initial step we would like to conduct this experiment in the school to help the teachers to understand children and to help them to develop content so as to interact with children. Attention, observation, reflection and experience/ engagement are the basis for knowing to happen.  Documentation helps in enhancing observation, reflection and sharing. If all the teachers in the school are documenting and sharing they begin to collaborate in creating content needed for their study. Teachers are encouraged to re look at children. What children learn naturally, what qualities/ skills are at work in their free play.

Why

1. The teachers are being re oriented to become authentic learners with capability of producing their own knowledge instead of just delivering readymade ‘knowledge’.  So instead of a teacher – student environment we are attempting creating a learner – learner environment. Teachers are encouraged to understand children first hand instead of believing the theories of experts (as there are so many theories one wouldn’t know whom to believe any way).

2. Documentation is meant to study what children learn naturally, what is their natural content and how they are making sense of the world around them. In other words to understand the content, process and conditions required for learning.

 3. To encourage the teachers to develop interest in things that is happening around their life every day. Or for that matter at least to make them explore and understand the connect between what they supposed to have learned and their context and relevance in everyday lives.

Where

Sadhana village school, run by a registered charitable organization, Sadhana village is situated in Chikal gao, about 40 km from Pune and caters to 10 villages with in the radius of 20 km. There are about 100 children and as of now till 3rdstandard from KG1 (3.6 years till 8.6 years). The medium is English and the school does not charge any fees and its expenses are met by way of donations. Most teachers are from the villages nearby.

Background

I have been personally using this very successfully to study the learning process and aesthetic sense by observing, documenting children, nature, people etc. This process has also enhanced my learning about how to use computer and net very well to store, catalogue, edit and make materials to communicate and dialogue on my findings.

Last year, at the Sadhana School we have been using digital technologies to generate and exchange knowledge about various aspects of learning- content, process, pedagogy with very limited equipment.

What we did was to get the teachers to observe children and nature closely to give them firsthand experience of how children learn and also to awaken them to the possibilities in their immediate nature to use that as the content for ‘teaching’. So almost every day teachers document a video, few stills and an audio of children. This is organized, edited, made in to various types of documents- written, power-point, and movie and viewed by the whole teachers to discuss and reflect on children as well as the content. Most of the teachers are from village and their knowledge of English and computer was very poor. But with this activity both have improved. But more importantly they began to value their own being and the knowledge system of their village etc. From regular ‘teachers’ they became real learners with lot of enthusiasm and interest.  

As we were exploring the natural content of what children learn/ imbibe we realized the need to document children while they are at their village also. So the teachers could do this while they are in the village. Sadhana village is also running activity centers in all the 10 villages with the help of 16/17 year olds and we are thinking of making use of this to extend the experiment to these places also.

How

First phase of the documentation will be in the school where the teachers and the moushies will be trained to document. The second phase is on the documentation of the villages and this will be done by the teachers and 5 girls each from the activity centers situated in these villages. They will be trained on the job. The whole process will also be documented.

Content of documentation

At the School there is a need to document each child and monitor the development. School also needs to keep record of teachers as they are also very creatively engaged in learning and letting learning happen.

Teachers are supposed to document the following.

On children
1; observing and documenting short video clips on children.
2. Documenting stills of children making things.
3. Voice recording their conversations/ or over hearing and writing about it.
4. Confession about what mistake they did with children.
On the life/ nature around
The purpose of this is to get teachers to observe life around them so that they might begin to take interest in some aspect of this.
1. nature- all aspects beauty, geometry, use, etc
2. Activities in the village related to farming, animals, waste utilization, craft etc.
3. Children in the village to understand what they do in village. This would help us in developing content 

Documentation on teachers

1. One purpose is to learn to develop a system for teacher training.
2. Second aspect is to develop how ‘teaching’ can be done to children. Teachers are doing various explorations and this need to be documented.

Conclusion

Making the subconscious knowledge conscious is required for two reasons. One is to create self-respect and feeling of self-worth among the holders of this knowledge as the over importance given to literacy is undermining the natural process of knowing and second reason is for the people who now belong to the quantified and conscious knowledge paradigm to value the process of knowing based on experience, senses and authenticity.

 

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Comments

  • yaminiscookbook  On April 12, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Very nice initiative like the concept

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