Teaching Science at Upper Primary Level Development of NCERT Science Text Books for Upper Primary Classes
Teachers’ Role in the Changed Scenario Teacher should appreciate that
Children are not passive receptacles of knowledge, and • Children are active learners, creating knowledge themselves from experiences, discussions and activities
So, Teacher should • Make class lively and learning a joyful experience • Facilitate learning; teach less and observe more • Help children perform activities themselves(not demonstrate • herself)
Create opportunities for children to discuss what they have done, observe and steer discussion towards the desired conclusion • Make learning a joint venture between children and herself: a good teacher is a good learner first
Strategy for Textbooks From the Known to the Unknown The textbooks • Make Use of Children’s own Experiences • Proceed from what children know to what they need to learn; makes children comfortable
There is no attempt to start from the ‘beginning’. For example, children learn the useful skill of reading a thermometer without knowing its construction, or how it works.
The concept of force is introduced in class VIII without recourse to Newton’s laws. What force can do is explained without using terms like acceleration, or vector.
Chemical changes and chemical equations have been introduced without teaching symbols of elements. Children learn to form images by spherical mirrors and lenses without being asked to draw ray diagrams. Introduction of concepts too early in their life makes children shun thinking and resort to rote learning.
List ‘simple’ activities which can be done without a “Lab” by using mostly things lying around and discarded: having done something, the child is not likely to forget soon; the child also feels more confident of her abilities.
Choose examples from child’s own environment • There is little stress on formal • definitions. • Statements like ‘Current is flow of charges’ are not to be found any where. Stress is on thinking and not on rote learning.
Language of the books is kept simple and direct so that children can themselves read and understand; teachers’ intervention made minimal • Opportunities for learning by cooperation, learning by role play, and learning from peers have been provided
Information overload has been minimised by transferring it to non-evaluative boxes • How science works has been explained with the help of a few examples. • Better printing and illustrations in colour have been used to make books attractive
Teachers have the freedom to replace the suggested activities by those that they consider more interesting and suitable. They can develop their own activities, too. This flexibility can unleash the creative potentials of teachers.
Attempt has been made to teach children the real life skills for protecting themselves, their families and community at the time of natural disasters like floods, storms, cyclones, lightning and earthquakes.
Attempt has been made to sensitize children to issues related to 1. Religion. Children of all religions and groups are shown working together.
2. Gender. Girls are shown participating in all activities along with the boys. More importantly, problems faced by girls and women, such as the adverse sex ratio, holding women responsible for giving birth to female children, the burden of collecting water falling solely on women, have been brought to the notice of children
3. Environment. Concerns such as deforestation, soil erosion, pollution, use of plastics, acid rain, etc., have been expressed to draw the attention of children towards degrading environment in the hope that citizens of tomorrow will behave more responsibly
4. Health and Hygiene. Importance of healthy food, regular exercise, personal hygiene, hygiene at home and outside, clean water, etc., have been highlighted. Health hazards associated with the misuse of antibiotics have also been brought to the notice of the children
5.Water scarcity. It is a major problem that the world is going to face. It is already a serious problem in several parts of our country. How people cope with this problem, how water can be conserved by adopting less water-consuming practices and how wastage of water must be avoided, are some of issues discussed.
6. Energy conservation. Another serious problem that our country, and the world, faces has also been highlighted. As an example to conserve energy, the use of CFLs in place of electric bulbs has been emphasized to reduce consumption of electricity.
Differently-abled persons, such as visually impaired or hearing impaired persons. It has been explained that these persons have other abilities and can lead meaningful lives. We should not pity them or ridicule them. Instead we must help them so that they can maintain their dignity and become useful members of society.
7. Ignorance, superstitions, myths and taboos. One of the goals of education is to remove ignorance and the attendant superstitions, myths and taboos. Whenever an opportunity has arisen, children have been informed how ignorance gives rise to practices which make the life of people miserable, and urged to get rid of such practises and beliefs.
Connection with life outside the class room has been made through Non-evaluative Boxes, 2. Extended learning, Case studies 3. Exercises, and 4. Highlighting social issues
Attempt to foster habit of enquiry through questions such as the ones posed by Boojho and Paheli • Development of skills like reading scales, data presentation in the form of Tables, and making graphs. • Special focus on points unlikely to be emphasized in later life.
Exercisesof varied types and difficulty levels, involving application of learning to unfamiliar situations, including open-ended questions, aimed at stimulating thinking, enhancing the power expression, and to discourage rote-learning
Addresses of websites for further reading, better illustrations and animations • Interesting stories, anecdotes, case studies and facts • Cautions to prevent accidents in the class room and outside