BANGALORE: “The quality of students entering Indian Institutes of Technology has deteriorated over the years,” stated Infosys Mentor Narayana Murthy in 2011. The reason for this lies in the system of science education being imparted in this country.
What is lacking in schools is the day-to-day classroom activities, absence of interest in teachers to take active part in simple experiments and upgrading text books with simpler experiments that can be performed by students within the four walls of the classroom. To provide a vigorous science education framework at all levels will go a long way in determining the future of this country, said Prof S K Bagchi at a workshop for science teachers conducted at Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum (VITM) along with his colleague Prof B N Das.
The workshop is based on the premise: ‘Where there is no lab, science can be learnt by conducting experiments with low-cost materials.’ Prof Bagchi told City Express, “All over India, be it an elite or government school, there is not a single demonstration of experiments relating to Newton’s law or Principles of Sound in the classrooms. Today, students just mug up their lessons to score marks and this reflects adversely when they come face to face with the real world.”
He added, “The textbooks include experiments which even an elite school cannot provide on premises. The syllabus needs drastic changes for the kids to understand. We recommend NCERT books upto 5th standard which are easier for the students to follow. Agreeing with Prof Bachi, Prof B N Das said, “The load of remembering concepts will be reduced if teachers can explain the basic concepts of science with the help of simple experiments using materials that are readily available.”
“There are basically two aims for holding this workshop, firstly to explain that the teacher should show the experiments to the students and secondly, students actively pick up the principles of science when they themselves become part of it. Visual implementation of experiments last longer than the concept of formal classroom teaching,” he said.
One of the important aspect of science is observation, and questioning is the fundamental right to science students. “Students must be curious and ask questions. For instance, why does a human being have two eyes and not one or how sound is produced,” said Shiva Prasad Khened, Director of VITM.
Teachers participating in the workshop loved the concept. Matilda Fernandes, a teacher from Gulabi High School, said, “It is inspiring for teachers to see two professors, at their ages, doing some brilliant experiments by making use of simple things like bottles and straw. I am planning to conduct a similar workshop for teachers in government schools, since only private school teachers attended this one.”
Voicing a similar opinion, Alli Rani, a teacher from KK English High School said, “I hope to take up a few of the demonstrations and show it to my class from next academic year at least.”