The curriculum conundrum

The pandemic has caused its share of misery for each one of us and our lived experiences through these times will- and I say this with a heavy heart and full assurance- change the way we make life decisions. Both career and personal and everything in between.

In the beginning of March, I returned home from a seemingly uneventful day at school. Towards the evening, my life as an educator changed. I was told to instruct all students that school shall not be opened for classes until further notice. I also added a “I’ll see you next week, this seems like a small precaution we need to take. Bye” in the end. My naivety from that statement makes me guffaw today.
The events that materialized subsequently were heart wrenching. I never got to see those set of kids I made calls to and never got to say good bye. I have since then transitioned out of that role, found a job in another school, moved cities, started working in a learning area which is new and exciting, met a whole new set of children and facilitators and adapted to online teaching methods. Sure, life goes on.
But I cannot tell you enough about the kind of alterations and adaptations that educators all over have made to ensure our children continue learning and growing. I have had educators who themselves did not have access to comfortable internet and suitable devices, call me and ask me about how to use platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom. We educators have had to think, rethink and change the way we look at education. And from walking around the classroom, running through corridors to get to class, spending our lunch breaks with kids who hoard us with stories and questions, we are now confined to our screens (for those of us who have the privileges of owning one), looking at those little faces in tiny boxes on the screen and hoping to God that the internet connection cooperates with you till you finish your meagerly allotted thirty minutes of teaching.

While educators and children continue to grapple with this changed dynamic in learning and teaching with technology (or with lack thereof), the policy makers continue to do some grappling of their own, offering fresh directives every single day on how to teach (read: how NOT to teach), what to teach (read: what NOT to teach) and how long to teach for. Sure, this comes with them keeping in mind the availability of resources for teachers and students, appropriate screen time, assistance of guardians and a host of other things. The role of the educator, and how we look at education has become so much more important now though. Schools, organisations that work closely in education are trying their best to make sure this year does not leave our children in a state of utter confusion and wider gaps than we’ll be able to bridge.
The discourse where I teach is definitely one brimming with as much positivity as possible, but there is an air of uncertainty that looms over us.

I teach grade school (grade 1 to grade 9) and I teach a curriculum that gives me the liberty to choose the text, format, method and content area I think will best meet the objective suggested in the curriculum. And while that offers me a great deal of flexibility, the idea of not being able to facilitate learning from close quarters brings with it a whole set of challenges and inhibitions. And while we think over how best to ensure learning among children (with reduced screen time, enough interactions, keeping in mind the importance of writing and note taking for them, ensuring they receive physical exercise), educators in my immediate circle still have a great deal to experiment with and not feel like it is a race against time to cover portions.

But that is not the case everywhere. I recently read that the Central Board of Secondary Education has announced that the syllabus for Class 9 to Class 12 will be reduced by 30 per cent in the current academic year, leaving out some extremely important topics that are formative [of opinions and knowledge bases] for our young adults. And this was done keeping in view “extraordinary situation prevailing in the country and the world”. Now, there are more than 21000 CBSE schools in India and perhaps we can assume that each one of these schools is well staffed. But by ‘well staffed’, I don’t mean quantity. I mean quality. Teachers who want to educate. And you and I both know that we cannot possibly presume that.
But here’s my conundrum. What of the students in those spaces? One might argue that they will “eventually get to know”. That’s a massively useless chance we risk taking. And I’m not even going to entertain the “it’s okay to not know” argument [Knowledge is power. Period].
The responsibility of the educator as carriers and “individuals who implement” the curriculum, deliver agreed upon standards, and syllabus has become profoundly important, now more than ever. At the end of the day, the onus is on the educator who walks into the classroom (read: appears on the screen) to make a responsible call of the what and why a student should learn something. And in order to do that, deeply anchored purpose and willingness is going to drive education at these times.

We, as a country have been talking about reimagining education for a while now. And after closely working in the sector, I know that we have some fantastic organisations working in the sector, alongside and along with the government to make sure we “up our game” when it comes to education.

And while we grapple with what to include and what to leave out of the syllabus, what about the experience of the curriculum we agreed on offering? Now more than ever, it has become so much more important to continue to reimagine our education with an alternate lens (or wider, or deeper, or all of them) and, now, more than ever, it has become important to reimagine the role of our educators.


Published by TejaswiniHalthore

Hi. I'm a 25-year-old dancer and social worker. I love hot cups of chai and all things Indian.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: