Meet S. S. Nathan, the recipient of the CBSE Best Teacher Award in 2006, and a name to reckon with in school education. He is currently the CEO of BVM Global. “You are no longer taking classes for students,” I nudged him. “Of course, I am not going to any classrooms, but then I still have my classrooms, my classrooms of teachers and principals. Now my job is more exciting,” said Nathan. And, much like a good student, I listened in:
A common problem is that the schools teach children not in the real sense of teaching. Something is taught in the class, and the children learn only to react to conditions. That way, learning does not take place. Most of us really learn after we leave schools. So, we said we must tackle this. That is what our textbooks are tackling.
Maths, science, social studies
We are making our own textbooks, for maths, science, and social studies. Right now, we are going for the primary classes. Then we will move up to class eighth. The first set of textbooks has come out. The first year, we try the books on a trial basis. And then we do the revision, and thereafter the final books come out. In two years, we will complete up to class five.
These books are not made by one person. Groups of teachers who are experts in the particular class and in the particular topics come together from our eight schools; all of them are classroom teachers, coming together, and making textbooks.
For example, a maths teacher who is good in averages takes care of the topic ‘averages’. Somebody who is good in ‘permutations and combinations’ writes that topic in the textbook.
Let me give you a few examples of how learning is improved with our approach. In class one, we teach addition. After understanding the concept of addition, these children can add any number of digits, any number of rows. That itself is a success for us. So we feel so excited about this.
And the same thing is happening in science, as well. I always put this question whenever I conduct a workshop to all teachers, even science teachers: If we have a hot-and-cold water dispenser, and if you want warm water, which one will you open first? Almost 95 percent of the people say, you open the cold water tap and then the hot water tap; even those who say we open the hot water tap first and then the cold water don’t know the reason for which they should open the hot first and then the cold.
Now, our science teaching textbooks ensure the children open the hot water first because it is less dense than cold water, so when you open the cold water tap later, you get a homogeneous mix of hot and cold resulting in warm water.