It has been ten days since the Union Education Ministry launched the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for children across age groups, including the first such framework for children between 3 and 8 years, and it has already generated a lot of discussion. between educators and parents.
From welcoming ideas such as an emphasis on creative ways of teaching, limited use of textbooks and assessment through observation and analysis of creativity to “questionable suggestions” such as the use of the mother tongue in classrooms, which experts believe can be problematic in a multicultural environment. , there is a lot to talk about.
The ‘National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for the Basic Stage’ is expected to be the basis of all pedagogy adopted by schools, pre-schools and anganwadis for children studying between Kindergarten and class 2 in institutional settings.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who launched the NCF for the foundation level, called it the “most challenging” and “most responsible” task.
“Research has shown that more than 85% of an individual’s brain development occurs by the age of 6-8. So it is very important what children are taught at this young age and how they are taught.” he said.
Maithili Tambe, Managing Director of The Academy School (TAS), which became one of the first schools in the city to set up experimental NEP stations for students for hands-on learning, welcomed the NCF . “First of all, there was a need for some kind of regulatory body that talked about curriculum and pedagogy in the foundation years, which has been lacking until now, so in that sense it is welcome. It recognizes the importance of learning in preschool but, at the same time, does not have a myopic view of learning as a pen-and-paper method. There are a number of welcome things, including creative ways of teaching-learning, emphasis on social and life skills, and a focus on children’s brain development and motor skills. We even take assessment, for example, that asks teachers to observe children in their natural settings rather than tests and exams, which means assessment based on what students do rather than what we want them to do. Even asking schools not to follow textbooks in the early years is good because many schools put a lot of pressure on students to finish their academic studies according to a set curriculum,” he said.
Agreeing with her, Kajal Chhatija, former headmaster of the school and founder of Edudrone, who is the academic director of an upcoming chain of children’s schools, said there are several things to celebrate at NCF.
“The most important part is the emphasis on creativity and hands-on learning. In the traditional systems that many preschools still follow today, the focus is on writing. They consider it a success if the children know how to write numbers and letters and make it a benchmark in the teaching-learning process. But the NCF stresses that teaching should focus on speaking, listening, following and imitating. It’s a complete 360-degree approach that takes into account things like student behavior, whether they can relate to children in their peer group that preschoolers often forget in larger classes, where the ‘attention is focused on academics,’ he said.
However, the focus on teaching children in their mother tongue, emphasized by the NCF, is something that has elicited mixed reactions.
“In a classroom we have children from different backgrounds and, sometimes, even nationalities. Between one teacher and 15 students, it is not possible to teach all the children only in the mother tongue. Having said that, even today, we customize the content according to the child’s needs, adopting multilingual teaching so that all children follow, as some may be weak in English, so we have to adjust the content according to their needs. We must also remember that it is during the foundational years when the brain is sharpest, it is like a sponge, it will absorb the most information. So we try to teach as many languages at this age because that is when they learn best,” said Arwa Chunawala, a senior teacher at an international nursery school in Kalyani Nagar.
However, parents feel that a mixed approach is best when it comes to teaching languages at school.
“My son is weak in English because at home we speak in our mother tongue, Gujarati, to each other, grandparents, household helpers, etc. But at school, I want the teachers to use English because if it’s not there, where will my child learn this language? I think teaching should be done in English, teachers can use mother tongue only to build rapport with students,” said Pooja Shah, a resident of Bibvewadi.