Stop killing curiosity of children

Debapriya Mukherjee and Arnab Chatterjee
Contd from previous issue
In a finding critical to tackling the stubborn achievement gap between poorer and richer children, disadvantaged children had the strongest connection between curiosity and performance.
Keeping this in view,  I (DP Mukherjee) opened a “Rural Science Centre” in my village named Moutorh, Purulia district, West Bengal in personal capacity  to convince the children that learning is fun.   In this center when I started to teach a group of students, I realized that it would become increasingly difficult to hold their attention through a full day of learning. So best possible option is to present the required curriculum to my students in an interesting and relatable way because there was one  thing in common among all the children:  they did not like reading textbooks. Students were found  to be most receptive when I could  make analogies that they can relate to their enjoyment. This applies to all subjects. Now every alternate day, one experiment is being carried out to make them understand that science is fun and entertainment like  burning of 100-rupee note, water of India, disappearance of coin and many more.   Gradually, the students gain an interest in science and has started checking out their textbook on certain scientific topics and other events in their daily life.   In our opinion it was a great learning that makes the children happy and confident to understand the science.  Even the quiet students who did not like to read have started to discuss about the experiments  with their guardians when they go back to their homes. While teaching math at the elementary level, I made the examples that helped the students to understand it better. Instead of asking them to divide 20 imaginary apples,  I asked them to put their 20 friends in teams and  they  visualized the problem and understood what operation to use. Most students enjoy hearing stories to which they can relate, and tend to remember the lessons associated with an experience. In biology, mutualism is an equal relationship while parasitism is like that friend who keeps eating your food but never brings any to share. This is why it is very important for us to make the process of learning as fun and easy to absorb as possible. Nothing motivates learners as much as fun does because it comes from genuine interest from within instead of pressure from others. Students are much more likely to invest extra time in the learning process if they enjoy it.
Initially I found it difficult to hold their attention during a lecture, so I started to watch a clip from a popular movie and then analyze it scientifically. For instance, there is a film which is a great example to encourage students to be always creative in their answers, work and things they do which helps them to become more capable.  Let our child create their own structure or time table for the day, combining their ideas and home learning. Now it is high time to encourage our children to research something that is of interest to them and show their learning with a creative project.
This could be making something with play-dough, junk modelling, papier-mache or a presentation. Also positive constructive praise that targets effort, behaviour and specific aspects of a child’s work is much more powerful than just saying “well done for completing your monotonous home task”. Movement breaks – such as dancing to music, performing animal walks or playing Simon Says – provide children with sensory feedback and offer them a chance to “reset”....but we must remember that learning should be fun.
Dr Debapriya Mukherjee is former Senior Scientist at Central Pollution Control Board Mobile :  919432370163 & 916290099509, E-mail [email protected] and Arnab Chatterjee, is Class VIII student of  Chelima BP High School, Moutorh, Purulia Mobile : 7865041004