Venue: DIET Rajinder Nagar
At the invitation of the Office of the Minister of Education, Government of the NCT of Delhi, TFC has initiated a sustained program of professional development with a cohort of mentor teachers of Social Science in Delhi Administration schools (Classes VI-X). A 5-day workshop was designed to unpack the Social Science curriculum and relate it to interdisciplinary understanding of current realities, explore progressive pedagogical approaches and engage with the concept of curriculum in theory and in practice.
To strengthen the teaching-learning practice of Social Science mentors by building an understanding of Social Science as a discipline and experiencing different pedagogic approaches that build 21st Century skills.
- To develop an understanding of the current situation of education
- To articulate a preliminary vision of possibilities to address emerging issues
- To develop an understanding of Social Science as a discipline
- To develop an understanding of the concept of Curriculum
20 mentor teachers, 2 officials, 6 TFC members
I. Key Processes:
- Exploration of the Current Situation in Education: Participants described the problems and analysed the causes; a graphic was formulated to organize the data, identifying the level at which the key issues reside; participants engaged deeply with this graphic and enhanced the data with agreements, disagreements and qualifications based on personal experiences.
Participants imagined the worst-case scenario for students, teachers and society that would emerge if the problems they articulated were to continue for the next twenty years and articulated their fears of a very harsh reality, where people are alienated from each other, are only involved with their gadgets, and crime is on the rise.
In an effort to mitigate this harsh future, participants engaged in some Possibility-thinking, expressing a vision for the future where ‘people are happy, values are based on ethics and not religion; where learning is joyful, experiential and teachers have the ability to help children realize their potential.”
- Disciplinary Understandings: In a session drawing on the NCF position paper on Social Science, participants explored the different elements that comprise ‘content’, including current realities of the world we are living in. Using audio-visual resources, the topics of gender and injustice in society were introduced as examples; learning objectives under these topics in the Social Science syllabi for Classes VI-X were examined including sub-topics, leading to articulation of concepts, attitudes and dispositions, behaviours, values, and skills that can be fostered in students through a curricular unit on Gender in the SS syllabus.
Exploring pedagogies: Addressing some practical methods like concept mapping and hypothesis-formulation to develop a coherent understanding of Social Science content, participants engaged in a lively discussion while unpacking the concept of “prejudice” through examples and non-examples, examining their own critical understanding using a worksheet on prejudice. Using textbook chapters, participants discussed how formulating a hypothesis can generate interest in students, provide them with a platform to share their previous knowledge and approach the content with a spirit of inquiry.
Designing Curriculum: Based on the principle that mentors must first themselves experience a complete cycle of inquiry-based learning, before sharing it with the mentees (the teachers they are working with), participants worked in groups to develop a teaching-learning plan for a history topic of their choice. The presentations covered topics like ‘non-violence’ and ‘decentralisation’. Participants used the guidelines shared in the first two days and came up with engaging teaching-learning plans.
- Deepening Understanding of Curriculum Concept: To foster a theoretical understanding of curriculum, participants engaged with the NCF paper on Curriculum, Syllabus and Textbooks. A broad overview of the paper was discussed, following which, each participant chose an area of interest from the following: Policy, Content, Design and Pedagogy. Participants took time to individually read the related section and then participated in a discussion based on guiding questions.
From Theory to Practice: The group presentations made a preliminary attempt at outlining how this theory can be used in their own teaching practice. Thus, participants took the first step in substantiating the theoretical constructs of curriculum, its specific purpose and core elements and how it can be contextualized in practice.
Based on this 5-day engagement, which served as a need-analysis, TFC has proposed a 6-month long course with this group of mentors, to enable them to develop into teacher leaders, able to serve as mentors to Social Science teachers in this school system.
TFC and the Department would need to discuss modalities to ensure that the batch of mentors is able to participate consistently in the course and have the time and space to complete the learning cycle in order to truly benefit from the course.
Further, a system would need to be worked out to ensure that mentors are able to engage consistently with the same small group of “mentees” to internalize their own learning while also developing the professional capacities of the mentees as Social Science teachers.
The course could thereby be expected to develop small groups of teachers as a team, with a teacher leader, working concertedly to make a difference in Social Science classrooms across their school “cluster”. All these cluster-based teams would then also be networked through the Course, with the TFC team and TFC partners.
Broad Course Objectives
Personal and professional development of mentors and teacher leaders as well as teachers, for deep engagement with various concepts, processes and principles that comprise the core of Social Science as a discipline and for developing curriculum for deeper learning towards building both teacher agency and student agency for engaged citizenship in the 21st Century world.
Course Processes: While TFC’s understanding of the learning needs of teacher mentors and teachers is still evolving, the course is currently envisioned as a series of 21st C inquiry-based learning cycles including data-gathering and analysis of learning needs of students against a framework of desired learning outcomes (“Readiness” framework) to be formulated with the mentor teachers.
In subsequent workshop engagements, mentors will deepen their understanding of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and creation of a facilitative learning environment, design Social Science units to build student capacities and partner with their mentee group (Social Science teachers) to teach the units, assess student learning and refine the Units for sharing with others.
TFC will partner with the DOE to develop a core team of teacher educators to design and implement PD programs. Finally, the project will strengthen TFC’s own team for developing need-based 21stCentury curriculum for teacher leaders, teachers and students.
TFC will test a preliminary hypothesis about inquiry-based professional development to develop contextually relevant curriculum to build teacher and student capacities in a Government school system.