June 2012: It is a sweltering day in June and the summer vacation is on. But Kalyan Madhyamik Adarsh Vidya Mandir, tucked away in Diggi, Rajasthan, is open and a classroom is filled with teachers, sitting around having an enthusiastic discussion. They have come from schools scattered around in Malpura Block, one from as far away as 20 km.
The topic under discussion was the National Curriculum Framework, 2005, and the meet was facilitated by Virendraji and Alokji from Azim Premji District Institute, Tonk. Virendraji detailed the chief objectives of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and how it is essential for teachers to incorporate them in their day-to-day teaching practices. Debates and questions ranged around how rote learning makes teaching less relevant, how to deal with the new syllabus and textbooks, the nuances of connecting teaching to the learner’s local environment, and the need to properly understand CCE and CCA rather than the tendency to misinterpret them as not failing students.
The teachers unanimously vouched for the benefits of participating in VTFs. They see it as a platform for them to get together, meet each other, and discuss issues. They felt that they get new information, are able to share effective teaching methods and end up benefitting from the exchange.
They had something removed from NCF to think about when asked why the word ‘joy’ doesn’t feature in discussions on teaching, best practices, or improving the quality of education. They pointed out that the high frequency of deputations and transfers often increases the burden on teachers; it also results in situations where they are compelled to teach subjects which are not theirs, hence making instruction mechanical and dry. But they all agreed that there is of course an inherent joy in the process of teaching, which keeps them enthused, coupled with the interest the children show in attending school and lessons. It is indeed a kind of self-motivation and joy that made them brave the heat and take time off from their holidays to get together in Diggi.