Dear Teachers, Learners and Parents
The title of this post is inspired by you. Some of you are at opposite (giving-receiving) ends of holiday homework, with diametrically opposed attitudes to it. I, on the other hand, do not really need to take sides. I can speak in turn, on both sides of the question, for instance:
For: Learning happens all the time, can happen anytime, even during vacations, even outside the classroom, even without a teacher!
(Space for fence-sitters who can’t make up their minds)
Against: The brain needs a rest from compulsory learning, that is why we have vacations, to let the children do what THEY like!
You may array yourself on any side of this issue (or in the undecided middle), and change position as circumstance dictates!
The world is said to be increasingly competitive, and so we cram our children to the fullest in the shortest possible time.
The problem here is, children were not designed for cramming. They were not born as ’empty vessels’. They have a pretty strong selecting and decision-making ability.
Unfortunately, they also provide a good market for almost every product in the edutainment industry. So, now, serious research is devoted to the discovery of exactly how much learning children forget over the vacations and how to prevent it – in a fun-learning way – so, buy this product. Or, register for these classes. Or, …
The advertising message here is that ‘good parents’ do not allow their children to ‘forget learning and reduce their efficiency’. Our children do not show any overwhelming desire to ‘be good’. We parents still cling to this old-fashioned and somewhat vague idea of being ‘good’.
Even speaking as the principal of a school, I think, we should leave children to decide the time, place and content of their learning, to a feasible extent. Why do I say so? In all my years of teaching, I have not been able to teach an unwilling (adult/junior) mind. The learner first has to be willing to learn the specific concept/skill, at that time and place, from the designated teacher. The teacher’s primary job is motivational/persuasive.
Every learner needs a learning objective. The means to reach the objective has to be attractive, as well. In short, the Why and How of learning should be the teacher’s focus.
That is why, for instance, we have introduced iPads into our learning technology. iPad learning apps seem to get positive responses even from so-called ‘challenged’ learners. Children also seem to require minimal operational instructions on apps. I find, however, that teachers need to be reminded that one cannot keep a very young learner on a single app for 20-30 minutes, like automatons! Sometimes, the sensation of ‘winning’ can motivate having another go – at the next, higher level.
We frequently have parents asking us ‘which apps’ to download. I think, you would be happiest if I followed up here with a list of apps for you to download.
Some of our teachers have told me to do this. Publish a list and be done with it.
I won’t follow this simplistic advice because technology is ‘work in progress’.
Actually, even we have to keep upgrading our own ‘apps list’.
How? We search the app store; download free trial versions and finally decide to buy the app. This year, we have added an app allowance to the salary of our teachers who have iPads, for them to buy educational apps and trial these in the classroom.
They will be mentioning new approved apps in their task sheets. You can download these apps at home. While searching and downloading, look at the similar apps that also pop up alongside the one you are looking for. Some may be free. You can select and download one or two.
To all parents with iPads and iPhones, I would suggest they budget a small monthly amount to search/download/trial apps on their iPads.
With time, you will be able to search and find really good stuff on the app store catalogue and share your info with us!
I habitually follow educational (+ technology) news online and hence, I do come across sites like ipadapps4school.com which will tell about new learning apps. All of these however, may not suit your needs.
The best way, thus, is the search and trial method that suits your own budget.
The iPad/iPhone that accompanies you on vacation can become a fun-filled learning device. A good idea for holiday homework, in fact, because it helps the child to learn.
Now, though I have not given you a list of apps, I will give you some good advice, unasked for, even at the risk of displeasing a few teachers among you.
What to do when your child asks to download games?
Advice: Ask them to name the most exciting games (they usually know this) and download them. Ask them to teach you how to play. If your child is very small, you may begin by teaching him/her. I think, in a short while, they’ll be teaching you how to reach the next, higher level. In any case, you will soon develop a healthy respect for your child’s ability to play the game.
Why do I say this?
We Indian parents often spoil our children or else, are very strict with them. Either way, we do not have much respect for them, in the true sense. This is as good a way as any to respect your child as an independent thinking entity apart from you.