As I listened to Dr. Swarnim Wagle’s interview on Himalaya TV about the next steps after the Earthquake, he talked about rehabilitation, reconstruction, …….. and new construction.
Then, he quoted Sir Winston Churchill:
“Never let a good crisis go to waste”
I agree when Dr. Wagle said that the government has to lead the rebuilding process, …
………..but this should not be taken as “now lets sit back and watch the process” for the rest of us.
Then, there was this headline in The New York Times:
With close to one million children who don’t know when their schools will open, one elected representative was quoted as “we need balls and toys” …….. “even more than instructional materials.”
This hit a nerve …………. not a positive one.
It is not because I am against students taking their minds off of the terrible tragedy they went through ( I admit, I felt the emotional jolts and not the real ones). I think talking to children about what happened and preparing them for the unexpected should be a must, and educators need to be trained for being able to do this effectively. If my experience with the school systems in two continents have taught me anything, teachers and administrators have to be someone they trust, their counselors.
I digress as always, but here is the real point that I want to make, it is important more than ever that instructional materials reach them, more than ever. After one month of school closings and another month worth of Dashain and Tihar closings nearby, instructional materials and alternative methods of teaching needs to be considered. School is a place for students to be creative, to be among their peers, to learn, and fun too.
We stand at an interesting time period, It is a time when teaching and learning, as we have come to know it, are being questioned, tested, and are entering new paradigms. Boring lectures and even not-so boring lectures are found to be the least effective method of learning anyway. So, why not take this opportunity to look at teaching and learning in Nepal in a new way too?
People in the affected areas have to keep themselves busy, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.
Why not have the department of education work with education leaders in the country, come up with short term solution to mobilize the educated population to fill the gaps of no school days because of no schools to go to. No school days should not mean, no learning days. Social and adaptive learning is more effective than lecture-style classes, anyway. So,
- What if for every grade, the best teachers come together and come up with effective and interactive instructional materials for a month, and then for the school year?
- What if these instructional materials had fun exercises with learning components?
- What if the best schools shared their secret sauces in these instructional materials but still kept it simple?
- What if these instructional materials are delivered very much like the relief packages to every affected places?
- What if every local community appoints volunteer teachers (including the teachers and students themselves) that could be trained in person or remotely (if possible and if needed)?
- What if these volunteers taught materials in smaller groups?
- What if their progress could be evaluated?
- What if local and international organization working in the education come together and work on a long-term teaching and learning system in Nepal where the access to quality education isn’t as skewed as it is now?
- What if access to technology: internet access and access to computers reach the farthest corners?
- What if adaptive learning was commonplace?
Is this too ambitious? Of course!!
Is this achievable? For the resilient population that we are, Yes!
There is nothing to lose.
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P.S. Learning is never going to stop, even more so for this generation, let this time be the opportunity for them, and for us, to understand that.