This article throws light upon the six major aspects for achieving the goal of education for children. The aspects are: 1. His Happiness 2. His Activities 3. Challenging situation 4. Encouragement 5. Guidance 6. Discipline.
Education: Aspect # 1. His Happiness:
There can be no coerced or forced development. Development is possible only through activities that are indulged into willingly with a sense of happiness. This is why so much importance has been given to motivation, to teach a child who is not mentally prepared for his lesson is like hammering a cold iron, and such efforts are definitely to yield to failures.
Years back, there ‘ vas a period when education was considered something to be thrust upon a child forcibly even with the help of a rod.
Edwin R Guthrie writes: “We learn only what we do.” And, doing something is a response which is elicited by some stimulus which the environment provides.
And, if the response is not leading to some positive feeling, one would try to be away from such a response. No attention to such an activity would be there; again to quote Guthrie “A failure of attention, for instance, may prevent response.” The child would attend to such an activity only which yields satisfaction, which generates a feeling of happiness.
The founder of the learning theory in the United States, Edward L Thorndike writes that an organism does nothing to avoid a ‘satisfying state of affairs’ and does nothing to preserve an ‘annoying state of affairs.’ Thorndike’s third principle of learning to the Law of Effect, about which he writes.
“Of several responses made to the same situation, those which are accompanied by satisfaction to the animal, will, other things being equal, be more firmly connected with the situation, so that, when it recurs, they will be more likely to recur; those which are accompanied or closely followed by discomfort to the animal, will, other things being equal, have their connection with that situation weakened, so that when it recurs, they will be less likely to occur.
The greater the satisfaction or discomfort, the greater the strengthening or weakening of the bond.”
Thus, the psychologists of the bond learning theory averred that without a sense of satisfaction, no learning can occur. In our school, we are always careful that there should be nothing-neither the behaviour of the teacher, nor any physical factor which may make the child feel threatened or discomforted. This is why ‘happiness’ of the child has been displayed on our board, as our first motto.
A state of ‘set’ can be possible when the activity of the child makes it happy. It would like to indulge in such an activity repeatedly, and, in as best a way as it can. Contrary to this, if the situation fails to generate a sense of security in the child, it would try to avoid such a situation.
So, for learning or development—every learning is development in the wider sense of the term—the school should follow ‘happiness’ of the child as its guiding principle.
Education: Aspect # 2. His Activities:
The Gita tells that we cannot live without activity; and a child is all the more active because of his age. Nature prods him to be superbly active as therein lies the way for his development. No activity, no development (Fig. 22.1). Guthrie declares “We learn only what we do”, that is, there can be no learning if there is no activity. Dewey theorized for learning the activity approach.
And, Mahatma Gandhi propounded the Basic Education as a system of education wherein activity occupies the axial position through which all sorts of learning occurs.
If a school attempts to keep its children inactive in the class wherein only the teacher is verbally active, almost throughout the period, the situation cannot be considered congenial for learning, and would prove, rather harmful, for development of children thus compelled to remain mum for longer durations, especially the children who are at the sensorimotor state of development; it would tantamount to punishment, and, deprivation of them from chances of development which a school is expected to provide through a number of activities for the school-children to be engaged in.
This fact made the modern educationist John Holl remark: “In short, the school should be a sort of smorgasbord of intellectual, artistic, creative and athletic activities, from which each child could get whatever he wanted, or as much as he wanted or as little.”
The sound educational principle for learning is that, more the number of senses are involved in the process of teaching and learning, the more learning for the taught will be there and, more will be the retention of the matter that is being learnt.
Only 20 per cent of what we hear, is retained in memory for a certain limit of time; 50 per cent of what v/e hear and see both; whereas 80 per cent of the sensory-experiences earned through the performance of some activity, are retained in the memory.
Again, I would like to quote Guthrie, “teaching consists in inducing by one means or another some desired pattern of movement, whether of the whole body, of hand and eye, or of speech. The movement must be induced in the presence of the stimuli that we wish to make its cues or signals.”
Thorndike also treats the principle or Law of Effect, operationally or objectively in terms of activity.
So, that way we are not performing anything novel when we attempt in our school to concretize the class-lessons to the maximum possible extent with the purpose of involving at least both the senses of hearing and seeing of our kids—we make the maximum possible use of the blackboard or of the roll-up board, of the illustrations of various teaching of alphabets is performed, mostly, sorts, of drawings and so on- through the drawing work to begin with.
Our efforts also happen to be to the effect of enabling our children see the things or items to be learnt, in reality; for this we, on and off, take our children to some outing programme; to some zoo or to some other natural environment; to some fort or exhibition.
The process of teaching and learning is conducted through different games, activities or competitions that our children enjoy as play-items; and they are so motivated that they always try to put their best foot forward.
When there is no activity, the senses cannot be activated; no experience of the physical or social environment can be earned when the senses, the thresholds of experiences, are given no chance to become active.
The more the sensory experiences are there, the more learning will be there. JP Guilford says that learning is “a change in behaviour resulting from behaviour”. And, for the small kids, the behaviour of the teacher as a lecturer pouring forth ready-made information does not constitute such a behaviour which should be expected to usher in desirable behavioural changes in the former.
John Holt (1964, 1972), Paul Goodman (1966), Edger, Z Friedenberg (1965), Charles Silberman and a number of others protested against the system of education which curbs the child’s natural urge to know, to behave in a creative and original way.
The remedy lies in providing a number of activities—physical and mental or artistic, towards which the children may naturally be attracted, and be absorbed in. Their absorption in such activities would yield such varied experiences that the most effective learning, the desired learning would be the outcome.
The Project Method will ever be an effective one in the pedagogy as it engages the students in useful activities. It makes the students, first fix their target, then under the guidance of the teachers, they decide their modalities of approach, the devices and techniques are adumbrated, and finally there is launching upon the projects.
Through a series of activities, enriching the cognitive aspect of the children, the target is achieved. But the project method can suit to the students studying at the level upper than the elementary one. The project method provides for practical education to which John Dewey declares as “Learning by doing.” For such a learning, empirical approach best suits.
The work of the school is to provide such an environment which may make the children active—physically, mentally and emotionally. Children feel glorified when they learn a piece of information through their own activity.
When, made to swallow dried-up, ready-made or second-hand information they feel themselves subjected to some wrong being practiced by the elders. So, for a proper and adequate learning, voluntary involvement of children in activities that they feel to be their own is must.
For proper and adequate learning, mere narrating of facts from the side of the teacher is not enough. The teacher should, rather, make the students activated through asking questions and through providing congenial environment, tools, apparatus and so on, so that being highly motivated out of curiosity, they may indulge in their own discoveries.
It is through activities only that the students may get a chance to think, to discuss or react physically and mentally both, to the demands of the situation. So, we can say, the more a child involves himself in activities, the more chances he stands for development.
Now, let us take an example, which I have already given in an article of mine. Suppose we want to teach our students the relationship between the pressure of air and its mass, at some constant temperature.
One way to do this may be to tell the students verbally how the mass of air affects its pressure; while the other way is to make the students learn the relationship empirically through some activity or experiment. Needless to say, the latter would be better for learning.
Education: Aspect # 3. Challenging situation:
If a child is made to indulge in an activity which poses no challenge of any sort; that is, it is such an activity which he has already performed independently in a proper way previously also, it would not motivate the child to do it still, or for going on doing it repeatedly. In such a case, the situation will be very dull and uninspiring.
It generally happens that a teacher makes a child write or read something which he has already done many times previously too, that piece of academic activity loses attraction for the child, and such an activity cannot give the satisfaction of accomplishing something important or good.
Generally, a teacher does so because some other students of the class are lagging behind, and, have not properly done that piece of curricular activity. What is advisable is to put the fast students to work/activity which is a bit harder to do.
Only such a work or activity can motivate the child, and, make the child involve the best of himself and such an involvement would highly be in the interest of the further development of the child.
A work or activity that appears to the child to be too easy or too difficult would not motivate him to take it up. Pit the child in such a situation where he feels the need of indulging himself into some activity which alone can lead him to the satisfaction of doing something useful, of doing something important.
Whatever the point of knowledge the teacher teaches, should not be something ready-made, something being imparted from the side of the teacher when the student remains merely a passive receiver. Such a situation can pose no challenge of any sort for the taught.
The teacher may intermittently be calling upon his taught to remain very attentive, but their attention cannot be had on the mere asking for the same. Attention will always be positively proportionate to the interest that a child feels in some activity. And, for a child to be interested in an activity, it is important that an element of challenge must be there for the child in the activity.
Instead of imparting something of knowledge directly, the teacher would do well if he puts some problem before the students in the form of some question or so ne project, requiring study, discovery or experiment.
It is only in such a way that the student may be motivated towards such an activity which may lead to the solution of the problem, or to the accomplishment of something which can yield satisfaction. The situation should be such which has “initially a high probability of evoking response.” (William K Estes).
Among the 17 postulates of Clark L Hull, one is “Stimulus—intensity dynamism” (V)—a situation which has an element of challenge in it, further helps in increasing intensity of the stimulus Of course, the role of “primary motivation or drive” (D), may be very important in furthering stimulus intensity. For a behaviour leading to learning, Woodworth et al, consider “objective situation” as an essential variable.
As a behaviour aimed at “objective-situation”, would always contain an element of challenge in it. A challenge tantamount to a “definite goal”, and makes the behaviour “purposive”; in another book Woodworth writes “purposive behaviour has a definite goal or end, with means adopted to reach the goal”.
Education: Aspect # 4. Encouragement:
Encouragement is a sort of reinforcement it serves as a cue to the subject for continuing in the same direction, or for a like performance in the future when faced with a situation or problem alike to the present one. Encouragement is a positive sign of approval, made in a way which enhances the subject’s zeal for going ahead.
If a child is trying to do something as desired l)y his teacher, or his elders, but no sign of approval or disapproval is there, the child may get confused, or be led astray by the influence of some other factor in his environment, or he may get slackened and even give up the activity.
So, a teacher’s “yes”; “Good”; “well-done”; “Fine”; “Quite Good”, “Excellent” and so on, may go a long way towards cheering up the child in persisting to the right-track, and, for performing better.
Clark L Hall has enumerated 17 postulates as primary laws of mammalian behaviour; the 4th in the list is “incentive motivation” (K). It is the encouragement which keeps the activity going on, maintains the excitatory force of the reaction.
The teacher’s nodding, or making “humh”, “humh” sound, is also a way of approving, and, of thus encouraging the child for going on with the activity properly and with full zeal for the same. There may be some gestures also to provide encouragement for the activity of the child.
Encouragement may be given through the award of grades or marks also but that has to be done very judiciously, it should convince the child that the assessment has been done objectively, that is, with no discrimination, or allowing any other factor than the quality of the performance, to influence it.
Once a teacher asked her nursery students whether they would like her to award them “three stars” or an “Owl” the prompt response of almost all the students was in favour of an “Owl”. It indicates that the children must be knowing the value of grades or marks, that are awarded to them—the purpose of encouragement can be served only then.
Hull’s theory of encouragement or reinforcement is based on his conviction that such an activity serves as a reinforcing variable in the process of learning which leads to the reduction of need or the primary drive.
In Hull’s theory of learning, “Little Argie” (rg) acquires the value of reinforcing factor as it occurs along with the primary reinforcement. While adopting different devices to encourage the students, the teacher would be more effective if he is aware of this aspect of Hull’s theory of learning.
Teachers in our school would do well if they act upon the advice that the students should be avoided from committing mistakes, as the most effective factor leading to better performance is the success that is achieved in an activity.
BP Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning is based on it Skinner writes, “If the occurrence of an operant is followed by presentation of a reinforcing stimulus, the strength is increased.” “Skinner uses the term “Operant” to signify ” behaviour which operates on the environment and produces reinforcing effects”.
Conversely, “if the occurrence of an operant already strengthened through conditioning, is not followed by the reinforcing stimulus, the strength is decreased.” Here, I have been using the term “encouragement” in the sense of this sort of “reinforcing stimulus”, the absence of which, as Skinner writes, may cause the weakening of learning.
Underwood and Shultz experienced the efficacy of serial teaching or serial learning, as we do in case of teaching of the alphabet or numbers to the beginners. In a serial learning, each preceding letter or number serves as a reinforcer in the recall of the next one.
Nevertheless, so far the teaching of the writing of the alphabet is concerned, I advised the teacher in charge of the Nursery class to teach in the order as given below:
After teaching the recognition of the 26 letters of the alphabet in the fixed order, the teacher taught the writing of the same, changing their order from easy to difficult.
As for example, the writing of “A” is much more difficult for a nursery kid, than that o:’ a number of other letters, and, if the teacher sticks to the fixed order, the child may take a long period before he learns even the first letter of the alphabet; and this may dishearten the child, and the teaching and learning in case of such a child, may be very difficult.
Success in the work being done, is a very effective reinforcement, failure causes a reverse effect. Clue is most required for a recall when one is about the middle of a series or of the matter.
CI Hovland in a research found that his subjects after learning a series of 12 non-sense syllables, reached to the height of errors between the sixth and the seventh of a series of twelve when asked to recall. This has been termed as the serial position effect. Anticipatory error and backward error are also related terms here.
Thorndike’s Law of Effect is recognised as “reinforcement by reward”. By the Law of Effect, he means—”The greater the satisfaction or discomfort, the greater the strengthening or weakening of the bond”‘ . According to this law, the learners should be avoided from the discomforts that errors may cause.
And, the reaction of the teacher in case an error is committed by a pupil, should not be such which may break his heart, and, he may even give up his efforts.
Education: Aspect # 5. Guidance:
For more than half a century, I have been associated with the practice of teaching, and, what I have been feeling is that, in many cases, the scholastic weakness of students happens because of the fact that no proper guidance is being provided to them.
And, the work becomes all the more difficult when the number of students in a class is more than thirty or so. Providing guidance means “enabling each student to know where he is committing a mistake or error as well as what is correct.”
To be able to do this, the teacher will have to be observant regarding each student. Gyanaytan is the name of the school being run by the society that I am associated to we have decided to keep the strength of students in each class only to the level that our teachers can pay individual attention to each student.
For this, the teacher must also know the fields of general weakness of each student, and the field of their strength, too.
For their weakness the students are neither to be punished in any form, nor are they to be put to shame. To do so, will result in making the students shy, hesitant and even frustrated.
They may grow so non-responsive that the teacher himself may become disheartened, and, put the label “Dunce” in case of each such a student; while the fact may be that the un-psychological handling of the teacher may have made the student behave as such.
Errors are the occasions which only can enable a teacher to know where and how should his efforts be conducted for the scholastic development of the students.
Each individual mistake of each student is an occasion for the teacher to avail of for the improvement of the student; but the same is possible when it is done in such a way that the student, rather, feels encouraged to go on, to push on, though sometimes it may not be so easy to do so.
The language teacher’s is the most arduous task so far the checking of written work is concerned. The approach of the teacher should be such that the student is not frustrated, nor he gets the impression that he can hardly do anything better regarding studies, nor should the teacher feel that the work is too difficult to accomplish.
The written work may be of two kinds- controlled and open; the written work that is uniform, such as—”Fill in the right form of the given verb in each blank”; “Fill in each blank with a proper preposition” or “with a suitable article”, and so on, is easy to check.
The teacher may get answer in each case elicited from students by turn, involving the maximum number of them; may write the elicited answer on the blackboard so that each student himself may correct if there is a mistake.
A mistake must always be corrected by the student himself. A teacher corrects mistakes in his own hand, the students may not take the trouble of even going through the mistakes, and the entire labour of the teacher may get wasted.
Only in case of very young children at the kindergarten, the teacher may have to correct and present the model himself. But if it is so done, the students should then be required to practice the same, copying the teacher; or, guide your student in such a way and to such an extent that each student may realise his mistake, and, may do things in a right way.
For the teacher to correct himself, a mistake committed by a student, is not sound psychologically, instead, make your student know what is wrong there, and, make him correct the same with his own hand.
The real difficulty arises when it is a free written work, each student has written in his own language, in his own way. Naturally, the number of mistakes will be the highest if it is a free composition work—it is more likely to be in case where the medium is a foreign language.
I have ever been concerned with the teaching of English—a foreign language (in an Indian school, and more so in a state of Hindi belt as is ours). I had been teaching quite big classes, sometimes, with the number being about seventy.
As I did not have enough free periods to check the written work so I experimented with different ways to do the same effectively:
(i) First, I would go to each student to see whether he had done his home-work/ class work or not. Then, I would make as many students read aloud the written work to be checked as the time of the period would permit.
It would give the students more practice in reading, and, would enhance their ability to comprehend as I would be asking questions here and there, especially so where it was doubted that the expression was of the student himself. This device of checking the written work, gave chances to the class of listening to how other students had done their work—and thus umpteen occasions of learning were provided.
(ii) In some cases, especially for senior classes. Secondary and Higher Secondary, I also experimented with another method. The classes being preponderantly big in number of students, I found it very difficult to maintain the ideal thing of checking the written work of each student, each time, thoroughly well.
What I did, was to divide the class of seventy or more students into seven or eight groups, each headed by a group leader, selected so on the basis of the record of performance of each of them in English.
I would thoroughly check the written work of each of these leaders plus that of the students of one of the groups—each time changing the group so that each group might get a chance to have its written work thoroughly checked.
Of course, in checking, the teacher should correct in his own hand only such of the mistakes regarding which the teacher feels that the student himself may not be able to correct it. Otherwise, the spelling mistakes may be underlined, and the linguistic mistakes of other kinds may be encircled; and the same may, better be numbered.
The student should then be asked to correct each mistake, if need be, seeking help from some elder at home, or from someone who is in a position to guide; some dictionary or other book may also be consulted; and the concerned teacher should also be available for guidance regarding the same.
If the leader of the group or some other student can assist in the work of correction, each student may correct the mistakes with the assistance of the same one.
Thus, each time, when some written work was assigned, the teacher would thoroughly check the written work of each of the leaders, plus that of the students who belong to the group of the turn. And, each leader would then check the exercise books of the students of his group.
Of course, we cannot expect the leader to be capable enough to detect each mistake committed in the free composition by the students of his group, nevertheless, he would be able, at best, to point out some mistakes, and would thus lighten the work-load of the teacher, and, at the same time, be benefited himself through such a routine of looking through so many exercise books each time when some work is assigned to the class.
And, the mistakes which the leader would not be able to detect would be so done when by turn the teacher would be checking the exercise books.
One very important thing is to change the attitude of the teacher regarding mistakes committed by the students. The Piagetian view is—mistakes should not be punished but treated as responses that can give the teacher insights into the child’s thinking processes at one time.
According to Piaget, committing a mistake by a child provides an occasion to the teacher to see how the child, in his custody, thinks—the mental behaviour of the child is revealed because of the same. The study of that behaviour happens to be very important for the teacher to enable himself to provide effective guidance to his pupil.
If a teacher is not harsh, and, has not threatened the tender children to silence, they themselves would be seeking the needful guidance from their teacher. How, with a sense of intense feeling, Froebel warns the parents against meting out harsh treatment to the children:
“….. ye fathers………. Do not harshly repel, show no impatience about his ever recurring questions. Every harshly repelling word crushes bud or shoot of his tree of life. It is a warning to teacher as well.”
Guidance wrapped in harsh language would be counter-productive. Herbert Hoover underlines the importance of children in the words: “Children are most valuable natural resource.”
When we speak of guidance, the reference should not be taken to be limited to the academic field only; guidance is valuable in the field of physical and the other co-curricular activities also, a lot of which a school should be expected to be providing.
In Gyanaytan, the school of our society, we make use of a specially developed mechanism to measure the condition of each child in regard to physical or motor activities, physical health, emotional development, creativity and moral character, too.
For guidance, assessment is an essential step which must precede it as it is the result of assessment in the light of which it may be decided whether any guidance is needed or not; or if it is needed, what sort of it, and how much of it is needed. On the basis of observation by the staff of the school, assessment is recorded in the anecdotal form of each student, twice a year.
Of course, anyone from inside or outside the institution may make an entry regarding the position of a student in any of the fields of personality as mentioned above—a notebook is always available for such an entry. Guidance would be required in all these different fields for an all-round development of the child.
Education: Aspect # 6. Discipline:
We would, generally, hear the word discipline when special features of a school are mentioned. Of course, for the creation of congenial environment for proper functioning of any institution, discipline is must; and it is more important in case of a school where desirable habits of working are to be developed.
Discipline is required in all fields of life for proper working, for effective working and success in life. There can be no game if there is no discipline on the playground.
The army on the battlefield would change into a multitude of unruly people if the soldiers are not disciplined. The school is the most proper and important place where habits of discipline must be developed, and a spirit of discipline be inculcated.
But the conception of discipline has undergone some change. A class where pin-drop silence is prevailing need not always be considered as a sign of discipline; even a class where there may be some noise because of the class being actively engaged in some activity of their interest, and an activity so good for their development, should be considered equally disciplined.
Discipline must never curb the behaviour of the students prompted by their curiosity.
Children happen to be keenly eager to observe their physical and social environment, and, know about it—this spirit needs to be encouraged and all should be done to satisfy the curiosity of the children which would always result in their cognitive development. One’s behaviour should be considered disciplined when it is helpful in achieving the desirable goal.
Whether a child is disciplined or not, can be known through the behaviour of a child, that is, when a child indulges in some activity. How a child conducts the activity, how a work is performed—much depends upon how much disciplined the child is.
A disciplined child is one who obeys the rules of the place and activity, who follows the instructions that are issued or given by the teachers or monitors or by others of his elders. And, the following of the same should not merely be physical or overt but in spirit, too.
The willful observance of rules, and the following of instructions, is a sure sign of one’s being disciplined. And, such sort of discipline is must for a proper conduct of an activity to its success.
For success in life, it is essential that one’s behaviour should be disciplined. A disciplined person is one who does his work without being influenced by exterior factors or by his own psychological weakness, both of which may divert his attention away from his target or may weaken or slacken his pursuit towards the goal. Discipline includes concentration, discipline includes firm decision or iron determination.
Discipline also includes courage, patience and tolerance. A mercurial, whimsical, wavering or in any way suffering from some psychological abnormality, can never impress us as a disciplined person. Nor, a person whose activity causes hindrance or hurdles in the ways of others can be termed as a disciplined one.
A person who is not disciplined in his habits and likings, cannot lead a wholesome life in matters of studies, games and other curricular and co-curricular activities; he would not be adjusted with himself and may be a source of trouble or nuisance for others.
A person who may eat anything, at any time, and in any amount, would also be called as an indisciplined one. One who has no time-table for his studies, nor for other daily activities, would also be called indisciplined.
So, discipline is the proper way of doing things without being swayed and led astray by undesirable physical or mental forces. It being so, the word ‘discipline’ is very important for the school. It is one of its prime duties to see that it’s taught are well-disciplined in all fields, and, bear good manners. These days, the student-community is especially described as an indisciplined lot.
I feel, it is so because we fail to engage this most energetic part of our society in activities that are good for the society, as well as are good for the wholesome development of the different faculties that they are born with.
When the overflowing energies of them fail to be beneficially utilised, the same would lead them to indulge into activities that are negative, and, are harmful both to the individual of each of them as well as to the society they are related to.
Discipline can never mean mere checking or prohibiting someone from doing something; it always lies in doing things in a way which leads to a better and desirable performance of an activity. Discipline is not a thing to be imposed upon externally; it is a habit of thinking and doing things in a way which does not interfere with the work of others, and, enhances the chances of things being performed as desired.
If one is disciplined only in letter, it means that it is the result of something being done externally upon a person, but, to be disciplined in spirit, means that someone has become so used to thinking and doing things that nothing otherwise can be expected of him.