Vol.1 No.1 July - December 2013 ISSN: 2321 - 6530

WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY :A RICH AND HANDS- ON EXPERIENCE AMONG THE PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS



Ms.Priyanka Kishore
Research Scholar
Regional Institute Of Education, Bhubaneswar


Introduction

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”

~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Education has a crucial role to play in promoting equal respect of self and others. So, teachers need to be equipped and to understand and incorporate them in their teaching. For this the community knowledge in education of preservice teacher training is important. In the National Curriculum Framework, (NCF, 2005) this is well explained. It is also important for the development of concepts in children and the application of school knowledge in real life if the formal knowledge is linked with community knowledge. This will increase the relevance of education as well as the quality of learning. The NCF, 2005 too promotes the inclusion of locally relevant content and environment in the curriculum as well as pedagogy. This puts an additional responsibility on the teacher for which s/he needs to be equipped, which is, selecting and organizing learning content experiences from the community for the classroom.

Like many other thinkers Mahatma Gandhi and John Dewey always supported that the best way of imparting education is through the natural surroundings. To have a full equipped teacher training institute it is required to tie the knot of theory laden syllabus and ongoing practical experiences of community. According to the National Curriculum Framework of Teacher Education (NCFTE, 2009) equitable and sustainable development of future citizen of all section of society is very important.

The (NCTE, 1998) laid special emphasis on the active involvement of teachers with the community for the success of all educational programmes. Keeping the above consideration in view the present course of B.sc, B.Ed of Regional Institute of Education (RIE), Bhubaneswar include in its curriculum a special provisions to prepare the prospective teachers through ‘working with the community’ programme, which provide intensive exposure and training in the field work through various activities.

As per its syllabus working with the community is a compulsory paper. This means practical exposure to society and their meaningful involvement in understanding and dealing with the societal problems. Thus, to prepare them for the future in the society and for the schools working with the community programme is an indispensable set of activities which include- increase awareness about the changing scenario in the field of education and society, making them more aware of the teachers role in the society beyond the teaching learning process, to develop co-operative attitude among each other and willingness to take up any kind of work and to work hard with a team spirit, to enable them to appreciate the dignity of labor and to train on leadership for a common cause, to make them aware about the major social problems like population explosion, environmental degradation and creation of awareness about health and hygienic living, better food habits and environmental cleanliness, to develop their personality through community service and to make them actively involved with the social and economic re-construction of the Nation.

Rationale Of The Study

The Educational Commission (1964-1966) clearly stated that, “A sound program of professional education of teachers is essential for the qualitative improvement of education. Investment in teacher education can yield very rich dividends because the financial resources required are small when measured against the resulting improvement in the education of millions.”

Hence, teachers are the makers of the generation of India, as they are the facilitator for the development of personality of a child; they have to maintain a good relation not only with the parents, but also with the community members. With this, they can get together and work for development of curriculum, exchange of the ideas and views and day-to-day administration-functioning of school etc. In this way a teacher can solve many problems faced by a child. A teacher should have the respect of labor and value of each member of a society and this is possible only if s/he has the skill and experience of interaction with different people. This skill can be developed by working in a community.

Therefore, the present study was done by observing and involving in various activities of working with the community programme. Learning and knowing of things from textbooks in theory is different from the experience of the same in practical scenario. Thus, the need and importance to take up this present study.

Objectives Of The Study

The objectives of the present study are as under.

  1. To find out the prospective teachers perception on the community work programme.
  2. To find out the different types of activities undertaken during the community work programme.
  3. To find out the usefulness of the community work towards the prospective teachers.
  4. To find out the opinion of concern faculty members towards the community work.

Method Of Study

Descriptive and survey type of method was used in this study.

Tools

Following are the tools used for collection of the data.

  • Questionnaires for the prospective teachers
  • Interview schedule for the concerned faculty members
  • Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and
  • Observation schedule
Sample

The sample of the present study consists of a number of 116 prospective teachers. These are from B.Sc. B.Ed IVth Year, which include both PCM and CBZ group. Seven concerned faculty members who involved in the working with the community, Dean of Instruction and the Principal of RIE, Bhubaneswar constituted the sample.

Views And Opinion Of Prospective Teachers
  • It gives real life experience; we came to know about the suffering of people.
  • A process of learning and enriching thinking.
  • Promote youth development; it’s a way of socialization with unknown community.
  • Enable to survey and identified different types of problems and try to eradicate those through awareness programmes and with unity, mutual understanding, cooperation and tolerance.
  • It’s a way to understand and know the variation which exist in India from place to place and gain experience to build brighter tomorrow.
  • Able to create awareness regarding cleanliness of surrounding, energy conservation, population/ Adult/ health education and hygiene, gender equity, and other social issues.
  • A programme organized for the people by the people and of the people for the welfare of society and community at large.
  • Cleaning in the campus helps work with the cooperation of community friends. It in turns brings about self realization to work for the benefit of the community.

With survey work we are aware about different sources of energy wastage and also learn the way to put a check on this wastage. Like use of natural light from the sun in day time and switch off the fan, light when they are not in use and not to waste water. It makes us aware about the different kind of waste material and their disposal by different ways. We got a chance to suggest measures to other people for the proper disposal of biodegradable, non-biodegradable and recycling of the waste materials. We got the chance to interact with the community people and have practical experience to interact with those who face the problems like early marriage, health and hygiene, storage of drinking water, physically challenged people, gender biasness, population education and also on the maintenance of water sanitation, use of water collected from rain water harvesting, toilets, tuition classes and livelihood of Tarini slum.

  • During the visit to Regional Science Center we got a chance to interact with resource persons and learn how to eradicate the superstitions from the people. Also on the different benefits of the knowledge of science.
  • Regarding cultural programme, it gives an opportunity to perform without any proper stage and instrument and to learn the art of conveying the message through songs, dance and skit. All enjoyed while participated in this event.
  • The activity on mushroom cultivation helps us to know the proper way of cultivation of mushroom. So, in the future we can be/ encourage self employment to the people and involve them in these fruitful activities. This is a low cost massive production of mushroom, it takes a short span of time to grow and it is also easy to cultivate. By knowing the process of cultivation people can earn money and include it in their food to enrich nutritional level.
  • During rain water harvesting, it gives a concrete idea about it and its usefulness. This is a very economical and eco- friendly process for the conservation of water and the water collected from this process can be used for all types of household work.
  • On the last day, plantation in the Institute was done which is a very good exercise as it brings about environmental awareness and a feeling of conservation/ preservation of the environment. It provides an experience of working together for a common purpose and encourage for a forestation. It spreads appreciation of nature’s beauty among us.
Views And Opinion Of Concerned Faculty Members

According to them working with community programme is an opportunity to the trainees to face the practical situation of our community. It’s a type of comprehensive training to all. This programme is to inculcate the attitude of ‘first inspire yourself then inspire others’ so that we can bring changes in the society. Being the future teacher it’s their responsibility to learn the art of inspiration as it can be best provided by this programme. It is an opportunity to see the people from under privilege background and feel from inside and a tool to make them aware of the real problems and to have first hands experiences on them. When they will be posted to some school they can work in any situations and they can give advices or remedial measures to solve the day to day life problems. It is also a way to let them know the real India. It is a sort of exposure and initial awareness to them about the practical world. When in future they will become teacher and face the same problem or when they are in the same position they can help the people or think some remedial measures for the community. So, when they will become the teachers they can show these activities to the community people and eradicate their superstitions. This will definitely help the community as well as the society. So, there is sincere requirement of people who understand the status of the people of minority group. Through this programme they can try to evolve themselves very objectively to help people in the community. Therefore, working with community programme provides plentiful opportunity to the trainees. It provides a sense of dignity of labor and inculcates respect of labor among them. If they have experience this, they will not hesitate in doing any kind of work. All of them come together and do some useful work for the community, an opportunity to learn and gain experiences from what they are doing. It’s ‘learning by doing’. It leads to the inculcation of unity and togetherness among them. This is ‘cooperative learning’. The main objective of this programme is to bring about social change through the change in their behavior. The teachers are always expected to bring change in the community. This programme is doing just the same and prepares them for this.

Analysis And Discussion

RIE, Bhubaneswar is one of the leading Institutes in the field of teacher education/ training in particular and in the field of education as a whole in the country. The B.Sc., B.Ed four years integrated course is an innovative teachers training program designed for the preparation and professional teachers with varieties of enriched experiences of school system for the secondary level in the country. Working with community programme is a part of its preservice training and as such they got an opportunity to involve themselves in the different types of activity like- cleaning the campus and survey work for ten days inside as well as outside the campus. As we know the teachers are not only confined to urban areas but they are also the facilitator of rural areas too. So, we can’t confine their training in urban area or inside the classroom. They are meant to pursue education not only within the boundary of the school, but also expose them to the real life of the community. Since they are the nation builders, such type of exposure will enhance their education, intelligence and knowledge for the betterment of the society, community and nation.

These will help them in future to work for the upliftment of the students. After completion of this programme they are able to understand that there exist two India one is privileged and another is underprivileged. They have awareness towards these situations and they can easily interact with the people of these communities. In classroom situation also they will be able to understand the problems of children from different background.

All the activities held during this programme proved very interesting to the trainees as they responded positively and do their work honestly without making any excuses. From the very first day itself they were quite comfortable and every group work their best to complete their task in time with much enthusiasm.

Suggestions

The investigators were overwhelmed for being a part of this working with the community programme. On the basis of their experiences they tried to put forth some of the suggestions as follow.

  • Working with community programme may be done from first to fourth year. So, that it will bring a concrete change in the mind set of the prospective teachers or, such type of programme may be arranged for each year/ batch in weekends of certain/ every month.
  • After the end of every activity there should be at least 10 to 15 minutes session of discussion and feedback session for the exchange of ideas regarding the particular event.
  • There may be one written/ oral examination. Also one group discussion among the prospective teachers may be arranged where it is compulsory that all should speak during that session.
  • There is a need of proper planning of the activity for cleaning the campus or outside. Some more advanced and good quality instrument is required. Necessary tools may be provided in proper quantity and some resource persons who can guide the students to do proper cutting and cleaning can be engaged. Proper disposal of the waste collected by them may be arranged.
  • There may be one week of working with the community in the rural/ remote area where they may stay over.
  • Institute may plan to arrange or to take up some steps to use the data collected by the trainees during the survey. This may increase trainees feeling of responsibility.
  • There may be a provision from the Institute to help the needy people of the community.
  • Institute may think over the adoption of one village and select some of the parameters depending on the need of the village. With proper planning of the whole year some work can be done. The entire community programme may be done in that particular village. In every weekend the teachers may be assigned and trainees may go there and work for some remedial measures. This will bring some changes in that village, where trainees may feel self satisfied. This will give recognition to the work done by them and the efforts taken will make immediate sense. It will also give the recognition of the work done by the Institute and also enhance the interest of the prospective teachers and work as a feedback for them. We can bring some changes by proper planning and contributions.
Reflection

Working with community programme has a very wide scope and objective to be fulfilled by the Institute as well as prospective teachers. During the whole programme the investigators participated and gain experiences from it. This programme means a lot to the prospective teachers as how one’s learnt from one’s own experience. This is the main idea of this whole programme. It brings changes in the classroom teaching and learning.

Everything is not meant to be taught. There are many things which students can learn from different situations and surroundings. During this working with the community when they felt a need to have some tools to collect the grasses/ other plants after cutting, they make it by themselves with the help of long branches of trees. It gives the investigators an insight that, this is a ‘constructivist approach’. They came out from the sophisticated classroom environment to the outside world where they worked in hot sun and went for survey from campus to slum areas. Immediately, the scenario changed as everyone was so interested to work. They came with water bottles and tools and started their work on their own.

Mushroom culture and plantation was a very good activity taken up during this programme. It brings about a feeling of self confidence among them. By doing this they learned a very easy and economical way to get some earning and nutritious source of food. It creates awareness about such sources. Plantation was the best practice to be done at every level.

Rain water harvesting was done at Tarini slum. This practice is proved to be very encouraging because it has many advantages. In respect of conservation of water it should be promoted by any Institute. A visit to this slum brings many thoughts to mind. Cultural programme prepared by them was really appreciating. In songs they tried to describe the people of Odisha and its great history. It was a chance to others to have a glimpse of Odisha culture. The main theme of the skit presented by them was good and relevant. It was on the burning issue of brain drain from village to metros/ cities. They reflected how uneducated people were cheated in metros/ cities. The best part of the cultural programme was the participation of the non- Odia trainees. They were speaking Odia so fluently. This shows the exchange of culture and the respect of others culture and language among them.

A trip to the Regional Science Center gives a very good exposure to the prospective teachers. Normally they know the experiments done in chemistry and the laws used in physics very well, but to use it to eradicate some misconception of the community people is a new thing they learn. To explain the students many concepts in science by the use of some simple gadgets, can be seen in the Popular Science Gallery. There were some female trainees who never visited the science center. But, through this programme they got the chance to go and see the things displayed there.

In the valedictory function students got an opportunity to share their feelings and experiences as well as share their suggestions and their ideas in front of the faculty members. During the function the participation of all the students was very good. At the end it was found out that they really had rich and hands- on experiences and it did strike their minds to think on different societal burning issues. It also gives a feedback for better improvement of the quality of the programme in the future.


REFERENCES

  • Government of India. The Educational Commission (1964-1966), MHRD. New Delhi.
  • Government of India. National Curriculum Framework, (NCF, 2005). NCERT. New Delhi.
  • Government of India. National Curriculum Framework of Teacher Education, (NCFTE, 2009). NCTE. New Delhi.
  • Government of India. Policy Perspectives in Teacher Education: Critique and documentation, (NCTE, 1998). Recommendations of various commissions and committees on Teacher Education, NCTE. New Delhi.



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