14 December, 2011

Vedic Concept of Education

Radhakrishnan. C

The words of Vedas originated from man’s own nature. So they are eternal inspirations.

According to the Vedic concept an educator should have faith in the inherent potentialities of each and every student.”Though all men have the same eye and ears, yet they are unequal in their intellectual capacities”. Accordingly, an education system or school should be able to cater for the multiple intelligent skills of all the students. For that we have to find highly motivated educators who are lifelong learners.

An ideal Vedic style of school should cultivate an environment of love, care and independent thinking. This will help the students to have a burning desire for learning, generating ideas and ultimately, for innovation. In such schools the educators egoism does not reject or discourage a student’s opinion. In turn, the view points of students can stimulate new thoughts and ideas even among educators. Hence this ideal teaching learning process is beneficial for both the educator and the learner.

Regular study is of great importance in the process of continuous learning. However, one must be cautious about the choice of books. “He who studies books of divine knowledge, books that purify all beings, books that have been preserved by the enlightened sages and seers, enjoys celestial bliss, attains purity and piety”. We have to inculcate a varied reading habit among the students right from the primary stage. Throughout history, especially after the origin of writing and printing, reading has become the key factor in the learning process.

I recollect the saying, “Man is made by what he thinks”. As per the Vedas, true education is to develop a pure mind, to cultivate virtues and to entertain good wishes for all beings, as is evident from the following mantras: “This mind of mine, which travels afar, the light of lights, which wonders to far off places whether I am asleep or awake, may it resolve to do what is good and pure”.

‘O Agni, lead our minds on virtuous paths”.

The very essence of education is concentration of the mind. When one tries to acquire knowledge, the mind, being constantly fluctuant, cannot focus on it fully. Thus the knowledge acquired is superficial. Hence it’s essential for us to train our students to concentrate their minds, and then the knowledge acquired by them will be comprehensive. The Vedas say:

“The mind has gone far away to all that occurred in the past and will occur in the future. We call it back to thyself so that it may remain long under thy control”

However, purification and concentration of the mind are not merely for acquiring objective knowledge, but for subjective knowledge too so that he may realize his immortal spiritual nature. True education should motivate us to comprehend that life is a great and deep adventure, offering us continued and unlimited opportunities to open ourselves more and more fully to that infinite immortal reality of which we form an integral part. Vedas urge us to pray for illumination so that instead of groping in darkness, we may proceed towards light:

“Dispel horrid darkness from within; remove all vicious thoughts and enkindle the light we long for”

“Lead us from untruth, from darkness to light; from death to immortality”.

In essence, the right kind of education should touch and hone all the three aspects of an individual, i.e. body, mind and intellect.

For your success and glory!

Read, Learn and Flourish!

20 November, 2011

Vision: The Indispensable Quality of Leadership

Today I wish to share with you something on vision, which I have adapted from ‘Developing the Leader within you’ by John C. Maxwell. This book contains lot of insightful tips to sharpen our leadership. If you are a leader or wish to be a leader get it and read it. Now let me come to the point of today’s subject – Vision.

All effective leaders have a vision of what they must accomplish. That vision becomes the energy behind every effort and the force that pushes through all the problems. With vision, a leader is on a mission. His or her contagious spirit is felt among the crowd until others begin to rise alongside.

One of the most common questions from people in leadership positions is, “How do I get a vision for my organisation?” That is a crucial question, because until it is answered, a person will be a leader in name only.

Although I cannot give you a vision, I can share the process for finding ‘one’ that I have learned from John C. Maxwell.

You can’t borrow somebody else’s vision. It must come from inside of you. The thing that brings it out is passion.

Every leader’s vision is based on his or her own personal experience. What does your past tell you about your future?

As a leader, you must always take into account other people. If others aren’t with you, you aren’t leading.

Leaders don’t get bogged down in minutia. They see everything from the vantagepoint of the mountain top. That’s why their goals are called vision.

No vision is worthy of your life unless it fulfils your destiny, the purpose for which you were designed. Your vision must contribute to your destiny.

Your vision must be bigger than you. The grater it is, the more resource it will require. The best leaders bring all of the resources in their world into play to accomplish something great.

Read, Learn and Flourish!

For your Success and Glory!

20 October, 2011

Why Is Teacher Development Important?: Because Students Deserve the Best

Teacher-preparation programs provide educators-to-be with the tools, mentors, and hands-on experience they'll need once they begin their career.

Great teachers help create great students. In fact, research shows that an inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement, so it is critical to pay close attention to how we train and support both new and experienced educators.

Teacher Preparation

The best teacher-preparation programs emphasize subject-matter mastery and provide many opportunities for student teachers to spend time in real classrooms under the supervision of an experienced mentor. Just as professionals in medicine, architecture, and law have opportunities to learn through examining case studies, learning best practices, and participating in internships, exemplary teacher-preparation programs allow teacher candidates the time to apply their learning of theory in the context of teaching in a real classroom.
Many colleges and universities are revamping their education schools to include an emphasis on content knowledge, increased use of educational technologies, creation of professional-development schools, and innovative training programs aimed at career switchers and students who prefer to earn a degree online.

Teacher-Induction Programs

Support for beginning teachers is often uneven and inadequate. Even if well prepared, new teachers often are assigned to the most challenging schools and classes with little supervision and support. Nearly half of all teachers leave the profession in their first five years, so more attention must be paid to providing them with early and adequate support, especially if they are assigned to demanding school environments.
Mentoring and coaching from veteran colleagues is critical to the successful development of a new teacher. Great induction programs create opportunities for novice teachers to learn from best practices and analyze and reflect on their teaching.

Ongoing Professional Development

It is critical for veteran teachers to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn from each other. Ongoing professional development keeps teachers up-to-date on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources, and more. The best professional development is ongoing, experiential, collaborative, and connected to and derived from working with students and understanding their culture. Return to our Teacher Development page to learn more.

Source: Edutopia

For your success and glory!

Read, Learn and Flourish!

The Power of Teacher Workshops: Advocating for Better PD at Your School

By Rebecca Alber

Teachers have all experienced a professional development that is so way off target or one that had nothing to do with what they teach or who they teach. We teachers can talk about having to sit in poorly-run, irrelevant PD like they are war stories.

Today, I teach teachers and design and facilitate a good number of teacher workshops. I'd like to share some things I've discovered -- through experience and research -- when it comes to PD.

Why PD Matters So Much

Research shows that teachers tend to teach the way that they were taught. That is, of course, until we gain new insights through experience and development.

And since education is always evolving, professional development is essential for teachers to enhance the knowledge and skills they need to help students succeed in the classroom. Educational psychologist and researcher, Lee Shulman described an elaborate, wide-range knowledge base for teacher education. This knowledge base includes content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, curriculum knowledge, knowledge of learners and their characteristics, knowledge of educational context, ends, and purposes.

In the words of Aristotle: He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.

An added layer being that our profession is a unique one in that we don't work with things, but with people. Just like medical professionals (who, of course, also deal in people), we need to continually update, enhance, and reflect our current knowledge and skills base so we can develop a more effective practice. If a doctor said, "I don't need to go to any seminars and lectures ever again," you'd probably choose a new doctor.

Making PD Authentic

The key to an effective, quality workshop is this: PD planners and facilitators need to know as much as they can about the teacher participants and their needs and then strive to meet those very needs.

Let's define needs. They are a gap between what is expected and the existing conditions. A needs assessment, or needs analysis, is an examination of the existing need for training within an individual, group, or organization.

Encourage your principal, instructional coach, administrator in charge of instruction, whomever makes The Decision about how your school's professional development time and money is spent, to conduct a needs assessment before an after-school or weekend workshop.

A good place to start? Consider developing a general needs assessment survey using a Likert scale, 5-1: 5 = completely true to 1 = not at all true. Here are some sample statements so that teachers can rate themselves:

  • "I'm able to contextualize abstract ideas and concepts for students"
  • "I feel very knowledgeable of the content I teach"
  • "I know how to design a rigorous end-of-study assessment"
  • "The teaching strategies I select to use in the classroom support diverse learners and learning styles"

You might also create a needs assessment with very specific statements just about teaching English language learners, for example. Always include an area on the survey for teachers to write in any questions or comments.

Use the needs assessment results to guide planning, choice of materials, and other supports needed for the workshop. If the powers that be have an agenda item they would like addressed in the day, that's fine, but the bulk of the agenda has to primarily speak to meeting the needs of the group. Without this, there is danger of an irrelevant, frustrating, forgettable workshop (see war stories comment above). If the only rationale for an entire day's agenda is, "it comes from the principal/district," well, see war stories comment above.

No One-Offs, Please

Quick-fix, single-shot PD can often end up as information overload for teachers. And since the goals of these are so often focused on getting a large amount of information out in limited time, rarely do they include time on the agenda for processing, planning, and reflecting -- all essential.

The aim of a good teacher PD plan is to grow collaborative teams and build capacity by speaking to the specific needs of the individuals in the group (i.e. needs assessment first, authentic training activities/materials that speak to those needs next). Then, the facilitator/administrator provides continued support for the team as they develop new skills and understandings. Follow this philosophy and how will teacher workshops at your school begin to look? The team will plan collaboratively, use research to guide their practice, and reflect and adjust on their own (no presenter necessary, only a facilitator, and one with a minor role).

Differentiate Workshops

Many beginning teachers start their careers with little professional support while they are required to carry a full teaching load immediately. Novice teachers may also be assigned to teach a discipline outside their area of training. There are veteran teachers who have a solid pedagogical practice but lack technology training, or need to update some aspects of their instruction. And there are many educators often in the middle who exhibit specific strengths in their teaching methods, while also having some weaknesses.

We talk about personalized learning environs in K-12, even in K-16, and we must apply this same thinking when it comes to professional development for teachers.

How has your school evolved it's professional development, creating time for relevant and authentic learning experiences for your teachers?

Source: Edutopia

For your success and glory!

Read, Learn and Flourish!

Bullying Prevention: Tips for Teachers, Principals, and Parents

By Anne Obrien, A former public school teacher and Teach For America alumna, Anne O'Brien is the deputy director of the Learning First Alliance.

Approximately 32 percent of students report being bullied at school. Bullied students are more likely to take a weapon to school, get involved in physical fights, and suffer from anxiety and depression, health problems, and mental health problems. They suffer academically (especially high-achieving black and Latino students). And research suggests that schools where students report a more severe bullying climate score worse on standardized assessments than schools with a better climate.

This is all common sense to educators. They have known for decades that students need to be in safe, supportive learning environments to thrive. And the vast majority care deeply about keeping children safe.

But especially given that commitment to student safety, why do so many children experience bullying?

In Principal magazine, elementary principal, now retired, James Dillon writes that in bullying prevention trainings, he asks participants to choose the one group they believe is most responsible for addressing school violence and bullying: parents, students, school, or community. Inevitably, he gets a wide variety of responses. He suggests perhaps bullying problems are not addressed because "people think bullying prevention is someone else's responsibility."

A large-scale study by the NEA and Johns Hopkins University that examined school staff's perspectives on bullying and bullying prevention somewhat refutes that hypothesis, finding 98 percent of participants (all teachers and education support professionals) thought it was "their job" to intervene when they witnessed bullying. But just 54 percent received training on their district's bullying prevention policy.

Without such training, some of Dillon's other suggestions as to why bullying is so prevalent -- that adults don't recognize some behaviors as bullying and that bullying is often ineffectually addressed using the traditional discipline system of applying punishment to a perpetrator -- make sense. So whom should we blame for the state of bullying?

As Dillon puts it, "The reality is that no one is to blame, yet everyone is responsible." We all can work to prevent bullying, be it on a school- or classroom-wide basis, or even at home.

Five Tips to Help Principals Prevent Bullying

According to Dillon, effectively addressing a bullying problem requires a culture change. A true culture change takes time, but a few key steps to help principals get started:

  • Practice What You Preach Don't use your status as the school leader as the lever for change; instead, "listen before talking and reflect before acting" to ensure your staff feel valued (this is backed up by the NEA survey, which found an important predictor of adult willingness to intervene in bullying was their "connectedness" to the school, defined as their belief they are valued as individuals and professionals in the learning process).

  • Assess the Extent of the Problem Survey students, staff and parents to find out how much and what type of bullying is going, as well as where and when, to target prevention efforts.

  • Develop a School-wide Code of Conduct that reinforces school values and clearly defines unacceptable behaviour and consequences. Empower bystanders -- teachers and especially students -- to help enforce it by training them to identify and respond to inappropriate behaviour.

  • Increase Adult Supervision Most bullying happens when adults are not present, so make sure they are "visible and vigilant" in hallways, stairwells, cafeterias and locker rooms, as well as on buses and the way to and from school for students who walk.

  • Conduct Bullying Prevention Activities such as all-school assemblies, communications campaigns or creative arts contests highlighting school values to bring the community together and reinforce the message that bullying is wrong.

(These tips were adapted from articles by James Dillon from Principal magazine, Sept/Oct 2010 and Ted Feinberg from Principal Leadership, Sept. 2003.)

Five Tips to Help Teachers Prevent Bullying

Even when a school leader doesn't have a formal bullying prevention agenda, teachers can create safe, bully-free zones in their classrooms:

    • Know Your School and District Policies on Bullying Do your part to implement them effectively.

    • Treat Students and Others with Warmth and Respect Let students know that you are available to listen and help them.

    • Conduct Classroom Activities around Bullying Help your class identify bullying in books, TV shows and movies, and discuss the impact of that bullying and how it was/could be resolved. Hold class meetings in which students can talk about bullying and peer relations.

    • Discuss Bullying with Colleagues As a group, you will be better able to monitor the school environment. Discuss both bullying in general and concerns regarding specific students.
    • Take Immediate Action Failure to act provides tacit approval of the behaviour and can cause it to spread.

(These tips were adapted from NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me and AFT's See A Bully, Stop A Bully campaign resources.)

Five Tips to Help Parents Prevent Bullying

Parents and guardians are among a school's best allies in bullying prevention:

§ Talk with and Listen to Your Children Everyday Ask questions about their school day, including experiences on the way to and from school, lunch, and recess. Ask about their peers. Children who feel comfortable talking to their parents about these matters before they are involved in bullying are more likely to get them involved after.

§ Spend time at School and Recess Schools can lack the resources to provide all students individualized attention during "free" time like recess. Volunteer to coordinate games and activities that encourage children to interact with peers aside from their best friends.

§ Be a Good Example When you get angry at waiters, other drivers or others, model effective communication techniques. As Education.com puts it, "Any time you speak to another person in a mean or abusive way, you're teaching your child that bullying is ok."

§ Create Healthy Anti-Bullying Habits Starting as young as possible, coach your children on both what not to do (push, tease, and be mean to others) as well as what to do (be kind, empathize, and take turns). Also coach your child on what to do if someone is mean to him or to another (get an adult, tell the bully to stop, walk away and ignore the bully).

§ Make Sure Your Child Understands Bullying Explicitly explain what it is and that it's not normal or tolerable for them to bully, be bullied, or stand by and watch other kids be bullied.

(These tips were adapted from materials by the National PTA and Education.com.)

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/

For your success and glory!

Read, Learn and Flourish!