The only working model of socialism I have ever seen is in an elementary school classroom
Most classroom practices, rules and practices are rooted
in the school values
According to my observations, I feel each teacher lends a unique flavor to his/her class. Each seemingly insignificant action of the teacher is actually not a random but a well thought out act. The teacher is the role model, and by being consistent in his/her practices and behavior, he/she becomes the living example of the values. The students invariably pick up and inculcate these values.
The classroom norms and practices are arrived at after discussions amongst all the students of the class. All the ideas and thoughts are considered and there is active participation by all the students. The value of ‘inclusion’ is very evident as children show receptivity to all ideas. The norms are not imposed by the teacher. The students realize the importance of having certain guidelines for the smooth functioning of the class. Since they exercise freedom in choosing their own rules, they feel responsible to follow the norms as well.
There is a sense of ownership and it is displayed in almost all the actions of the students. The students play an active role in implementing all the routines – taking attendance, distributing stationary and journals, collecting and arranging books in the book corner, arranging bottles in the bottle corner etc. The striking feature of such practices is that students become more attentive and aware and are thus in a better position to notice inefficiencies and take corrective action. For instance, the student in charge of organizing the bottle corner every morning noticed the chaos that ensued in the afternoon when students rushed to collect their bottles. The following morning she requested for permission to distribute bottles to all the students at the time of closure to avoid the chaos.
One of the most important value that is being cultivated in the students is to practice self-discipline. Whether it is listening attentively while others are speaking, waiting for their turn before speaking, winding up the tables, arranging the chairs back under the table each time children get up so as to not block the path, or waiting patiently for their turn to move out of the classroom without obstructing others’ way – each of these practices convey an underlying value of respecting others.
Social learning is also very important aspect in the classroom. The teacher utilizes various opportunities to encourage children to reflect on their conduct. For instance, an accidental fall of a middle school student in the corridor while running, was used as an opportunity to initiate a discussion on reinforcing the rules to walk down corridors. In such a process, students observe the behavior of others and its consequences, and as a result modify their own behavior.
Similarly peer learning is also an integral part of the classroom. The children are seated in crews to facilitate group work. Children are assigned in groups after a careful examination of various factors. For instance very fluent readers are paired with progressing readers, a high energy child paired with a low energy child and so on. Children who are able to finish their tasks early welcome the opportunity of helping their peers. There is no competitiveness, rather children appreciate and applaud the progress made by their peers as they feel equally responsible in contributing to peer learning.
To sum it up, the classroom culture is more about co-operation and self esteem rather than comparison and thus provides a joyful learning experience to all the students.
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Harjeet Kaur, Resident- I am a Teacher