“No homework, jollya iruku,” says M. Suganya, as she passes a ball to one of her classmates after giving an example of a noun. The ball goes into different hands and in the process everybody gives an example aloud of the parts of the speech.
Seems like English teacher Lalitha's job is easy with no prescribed textbooks and the simple activity she has been doing with class VII students to refresh their memory of different parts of the speech while teaching English at Presidency Government Higher Secondary School for Girls, Egmore.
It is one week since the State government schools reopened. In the absence of any prescribed textbook, with the imbroglio on whether to follow ‘Samacheer Kalvi' syllabus or not this academic year, schools were asked to look beyond the textbook.
Some schools have received the ‘Bridge Course Material' prepared by the Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training (DTERT), but there is mixed reaction from teachers on what the content can offer to students of classes VII and upwards.
For instance, in class IX History, a few of the activities suggested are: Ask the students to collect coins and prepare an album and have a discussion on the coins of various periods.
In most of the classes, a field trip to a local area such as temple, hospital and post office is suggested but schools say that that is not possible.
“How practical is it to take an entire class to a temple or post office? Permission has to be sought and transportation should be arranged,” says a corporation school headmistress.
Another principal of a matriculation school says that they are not supposed to take children on field trips without a written permission from the School Education Department.
In many schools, teachers are teaching the basics or portions that are common to all the streams.
S. Mahesh, class V student of a matriculation school in Triplicane, says except Tamil I have received all my textbooks. “And I already have lots of homework.”
In some schools, much of what is being done is due to the enthusiasm of teachers.
“I wonder if any school has taken their children out in the first week. This is a good time to take students to a vegetable market, for instance, as part of economics, and compare prices,” says P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System.
He says that it is much easier to engage a class of students by giving them an activity than with a textbook-centric education.
But, like teachers, class X students are anxious how they will complete the syllabus.
“I planned to take tuitions in four subjects but looks like the teachers are waiting for the decision on which syllabus should be followed. My tuitions have not started yet. My main worry is how teachers will complete the syllabus and the amount of homework we would get once serious classes begin,” says Sabarish Elango, a student of Anna Gem Science Park Matriculation School.