Home > Curriculm and pedagogy > RARE pedagogy - A pragmatic approach to classroom effectiveness


By G. Balasubramanian

A classroom is a place for vibrant intellectual interaction. Any knowledge transaction in the classroom should feed the curiosity of the learner, challenge one’s intellectual pursuits, facilitate one’s exploration and experimentation, and empower their cognitive, affective and psycho-motor domains, A passive learner in the classroom is self-defeating and a passive teacher in the classroom is a curse to a future generation. Learning in the classroom, is therefore, an organized collaborative engagement of both to unravel the unfathomed oceans of knowledge – through experiments and pursuits which are not necessarily pre-designed, but which evolve in the course of their journey in the roads less travelled.

Unfortunately enough, learning has been so much formalized that it is imprisoned within the prints of a textual material and in certain cases, extended to some pre-disposed learning experiences leading to conditioning of thinking, pattern development in brain structures and in an engagement with achievement syndromes for repetition of information articulated through some responses to structured questions. In the entire process, the joy of learning is not only marginalized, but the learner is forced into world of organized stress patterns impacting the psychological health and wellbeing. Comparisons of performances of individuals on a standardized scale curbs the individuality of the learner and the learner is directed to exist and perform within some defined universe of knowledge.

Though much is talked about the pedagogical leadership, the teachers do not have either freedom or the wherewithal for differentiated engagements in the classroom. Given the structures within which they have to be ceremoniously work, they are forbidden oftentimes to exercise their freewill, creativity and imaginative techniques to convey knowledge, further it or motivate the learner with indicators of different perceptions to a given problem.

The emergence of technology has certainly opened different gateways to access and assimilate knowledge. However, with the instruments of technology, teachers are still directed to achieve the same goals, may be in a smarter way or in a shorter span of time or through more cosmetic methods.

The following four elements appear to be the most critical for any effective classroom pedagogy

1. Reflection

Mere assimilation of knowledge and its storage does not serve any purpose. A learner has to reflect on the kind of knowledge and skills one has acquired. Reflection helps in meaningful consideration of the objectives of its assimilation, the purpose and utility of the knowledge both for the designed purposes and beyond, its value proposition to the universe both organic and inorganic, its relevance and stability in a given knowledge universe and its ethical status for a social cohort. Reflection, is indeed an exercise which helps the learner to improve the power of judgment, the requisite moderation needed in its administration, its life cycle and hence the appropriacy of its change and more. Classrooms do not have any provision for such reflective exercises and nor do teachers do give any value for the same in their operating principles, just to be sure enough to complete their requisite task timeline. Reflection can also be encouraged through panel discussions, group discussions, debates and other informal exercises apart from exclusive personalized reflections. Reflective methods in pedagogy will help in empowered long-term memory of the knowledge and its ‘readiness’ for use.

2. Analysis

Analysis provides a deep insight into the available information. It helps to position the knowledge with its merits and demerits. Further, analysis helps to understand the relevance of a piece of knowledge in the entire spectrum of the knowledge universe. Analysis helps to understand, the quality, the magnitude, the methods and the meaning that comes with a given information. Analysis helps to consider a given set of information in terms of its value, both utilitarian or otherwise so that its retention can be considered in context and in the geography in which it exists.

Analytical mind is a dissecting mind and hence it dissects the information available to its micro level to understand the depth, the insights .and to validate the credibility and reliability of the content. It facilitates scientific investigation of any given set of observations to find the underlying truth and the processes that govern the existence of the truth. “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Says Albert Einstein. This indeed requires the power of analysis. Analysis helps in eliminating the undesirable and wasteful components of all productive thoughts. As a tool of pedagogy, teachers should encourage the learners to engage actively in the process of analysis of their ideas, thoughts and information.

3. Research

A researching mind is an asset both to the individual as well as the community. Any piece of knowledge which is blindly accepted has less validity or credibility as compared to one which is accepted based on evidences, observations, critical reviews and engaging dialogues. “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose” says Zora Neale Hurston. It is important to develop a researching mind in the youngsters as that alone will trigger the curiosity of the inquisitive learner to consider the differing perceptions before the learner on the basis of some established norms and practices. The process of collecting, organizing and documenting evidences is indeed a demanding task for a researching mind. It is a practice of developing the facts to speak for themselves. Research helps in looking at data in a pragmatic manner. “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion” says Edward Deming, the Father of the TQM movement.

Further, research gives a wide scope for exploring an unexplored universe of knowledge with courage, conviction and comfort. It helps to unravel some myths and mysteries by testing them on the cornerstones of knowledge and wisdom. The previous century has witnessed the gift of research to the human kind both in improving the standards of life and the quality of life.

A classroom has to open up the corridors of research even in its simplistic level, so that the learners mind is tuned to seek the light in the darkness. It will help the learner to develop self-confidence, courage of conviction, perseverance, ability to accept failures, mobilize resources and stay focused with an investigating mind. A pedagogy that does not promote, mentor or nurture a researching mind does not live to its nobler purpose.

4. Experience

“The source of knowledge is experience” says Albert Einstein. Presently, there is a lot of focus on the introduction of experiential learning in the classrooms. With Kolb’s inputs on enabling experiential learning in the classrooms, there is an added attention to classroom designs that promote experiential learning. However, this would be possible only if the teachers have adequate time to design and position their pedagogical practices and instruments to favour this scenario. Experiential learning does not necessarily require specially designed or articulated support systems but can be contextualized in the normal classroom situations by an intelligent teacher.” Experience the most brutal of teachers says C.S. Lewis, the noted essayist.

Experience is gathered through experimentation, observation, reflection, investigation and decision making. All these faculties are essential for a learner to move vibrantly on the learning curve and ensure one’s authenticity of knowledge validated through the defined paradigm of knowledge procedures.

“RARE” pedagogy that encompasses – “Reflection, Analysis, Research and Experience” would provide the necessary gateway to make classrooms interactive, interesting, engaging and productive.

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