A Sea of Alphabets – Guide Meeting Update (1)

I’m at a stage with the project where I think I’ve reached the point of highest confusion. All my information seems to be in place, the problems identified, the reasons noted, and the connections made. Bad news is, I’m unsure of what to do next, how to intervene, where to intervene and whether it is even in my capability to intervene and bring a positive change (the positivity again needs to be validated by folks more reliable and credible than I). Good news is, a (any) step forward from this point means we’re closer to the end goal.

To put things in perspective and figure out which direction to head in, Tarun and I sat down with a plethora of information on our side, a dozen first and second-hand experiences to share and some million questions that required debating.

We started out by analyzing a CCE report card of a class 5 student from DPS, Bopal. The shift in performance representation from marks to grades, the sophistication of performance criteria and the absence of any kind of basis for the given grades seemed to make the report card an extremely complicated document to comprehend for us–let alone the general demographic of parents overburdened with official and household activities. If you look at it from a distance, the report card is an ocean of random letters placed in a tabular format. The english language section has the most number of sub-criteria, moving on to mathematics, environmental studies and then computers, arts, social skills, behaviour, etc. The academic year is divided into two terms and none of the grades (of the same criteria) are placed next to each other for successive terms so the progress is difficult to fathom.

A Sea of Alphabets

The report card then has the overall grade of the student below all the subject grades, and a one line subjective comment on the student’s performance from the teacher. Question remains, how is this helping the parents monitor their child’s learning over a period of time? How is it helping teachers communicate to parents the strengths and weaknesses of the student? Above all, how is it serving as a diagnostic tool to monitor progress and work on the areas where the student is lagging, before it is too late? How is a parent supposed to comprehend a sea of alphabets spread across a page? What do they tell him/her about his/her child? What is the basis for these alphabets (grades)? Where is the continuos and comprehensive feedback? It seems like the report card and the evaluation system is still doing what it used to before the implementation of CCE, except that now emotional and social aspects of a student are also being graded. The aim is still to judge the progress in learning with the overall picture (overall grade) rather than go into the details of understanding and application of what is learnt over time.

Following that train of thought, the next question that came up was the necessity of an evaluation system that measures understanding and application of knowledge progressively and gives feedback to students from time to time rather than at the end of the term. Why is it that a shift is required from rote learning to application? Why should we move from a colonial mindset to a system that encourages original thinking? Is it even required? Maybe a comparison between tiffin dabbas and thaalis would shed some light on the same (in the next post).

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