What is the meaning of Teaching Methodology
Traditionally, the teaching of Physics in most of the schools/colleges has been focused mainly in providing the knowledge of facts, formulae and equations. These are spoonfed to students and they are compelled to memorize these, often without giving any idea regarding their physical interpretation or importance. Another component is the ‘laboratory’ where students spend a long time (2-3 periods) finishing the experiments selected and arranged for them by the Board authorities. Students have only to follow the methods or steps mentioned in their instruction manual. The result is a widespread disinterest and lack of understanding of science among students. This has become a real problem - especially at a time when science is having a growing impact on our Nation’s development, and when society needs more scientists than ever.
All panels, committees and commissions set up to look into the status of science education have deliberated on these issues and accordingly changes are made. But all these do not seem to yield the desired results. One main reason for this is that the teacher is not getting involved in proper responsible manner in the various schemes “imposed” by the central bodies. We are therefore trying to focus on a teaching methodology in which the teacher is the innovator. Demonstration based teaching is one such tested method and most of the so called developed countries have adopted this.
During the classroom session if we do some demo experiment related to the topic being discussed to illustrate the basics involved, say for 2 to 5 minutes, these five minutes will give the student enormous amount of knowledge and interest. It will definitely help creating a scientific temperament among students and it will be a big achievement if we get success to inculcate scientific attitude in our young students.
Development at IITK
Within the framework of limited time, and constraints set by examination system (syllabus) we have designed the experiments/activities at three levels. (a) Classroom Demo (b) Informal student based activities (c) Exposure to modern measurement tools.
Using very low cost materials we have designed a large number of Physics demo experiments which can be performed in the classroom in 2 to 5 minutes while teaching a particular topic. Most of these experiments are such that any school can afford and teachers can assemble these themselves. Each of these is supposed to take very small time but contain a lot of information and potential to illustrate principles of physics nicely. The demo based activities will bridge the gap between text book Physics and daily life Physics.
We have developed about 60 such demo experiments so far.
(b) Concept of Informal Laboratory:
It is our proposal that the school should have an informal laboratory which will be a vibrant centre of real learning which will not be Teacher-centric but will be Student-centric. Teachers themselves will learn from this centre as students. The materials and instruments should be available at the centre. A student can conceive an experiment, assemble required apparatus to perform the experiment and can draw conclusions. The direction of the whole project will be decided by the students. The presence of teachers will only be to motivate the students to perform experiments which they themselves conceive.
To give it a start we have developed about 20 seed experimental activities. Even these are open ended and each can be modified/extended in innumerable number of ways.
Any change in the education system has to be implemented through the Teacher and there is no substitute for it. This most important position of the teacher has to be honored in any academic planning. In the last 2 years or so we have conducted a number of 1-day “Introductory Interaction Programmes” at various places where we demonstrated our experiments and explained the impact it can make on teaching. More than 700 school and college teachers in groups of about 20 to 70 teachers were contacted. These programmes were basically a Methods of Physics Teaching course that thoroughly addressed most aspects of high school and college Physics teaching. As all the experiments and discussions were related to the physics curriculum they teach everyday, the teachers were immediately enthused and assured that they will try their best to change to demo-based instruction during classes.
The whole exercise to develop a package for School Physics education started with a financial and infrastructural support from IIT Kanpur in the year 2002-03. With this initial seed project we could convince ourselves that efforts in this direction are worth making and the objectives are achievable. We then approached Vigyan Prasar and got financial support from there and are moving forward with this support. IIT Kanpur continues to provide the infrastructural support.
Indian Association of Physics Teachers is constantly helping us by providing interactions with physics teachers through their bulletin which goes in nearly 5000 hands. This has been very useful in spreading the notices and information among the physics community.