Why is it Important to Redesign the Role of a School Leader

Jayita Ekka updated on : 01 Dec 2015

Does the current model of school education has no balance and needs immediate repair?

Motivation

For the last two years, the engagement through various workshops on design thinking and creative confidence building across many schools in India has helped establish a fact that irrespective of the board the school follows, the activity based learning it implements, and the innovative approaches the teacher takes, the student remains de-motivated in studying and is always focused only on achieving the maximum percentage.  This has become a phenomenon almost found in all schools across India irrespective of strata, domain or location.

Why do students look so de-motivated? Why is there lack of interest in engaging themselves in the classroom? Why hardly any student raises hands anymore to answer question? Why is their attention span so short in the classroom? There are many such whys and each ‘why’ when dwelled deep has ended up into one single answer; The student is not the challenge, the challenge is the one that controls, monitors and mentors, no not the teacher because in Indian education system teacher executes and not envisions. The challenge lies in redesigning the process for school leader to understand the needs of the environment healthiest for best learning practices.

There might be conflicting views, some schools and educators will take pride in proving the stated views wrong and their point of view is accepted as well, some are trying but it is important  not to forget that every country has its culture defined by the majority; the masses.  What is the education culture of India and what is the role of all the key players; The School leader-the principal, the teacher, the student and the parent.

A teacher typically in such a scenario is the one whose role is to ensure that the curriculum delivery happens on time, syllabus is completed on time and discipline is maintained. A teacher ensures that students “work hard” to achieve the right percentage? Does a teacher explore the possibility of ensuring whether learning is complete or rather is the teacher encouraged to explore the possibility to see if the learning is incomplete? A student at a school level is believed to be an obligatory learner; he comes to school to learn because his parents force him to, because society influences him to?

Over the period of last three years in the schools where research was conducted, primary interaction with students revealed that in many cases, students are willing learners and continue their education in spite of all challenges and odds, at times contributing to fee funds, earning through odd jobs. One important question also surfaces is the role of parent. A parent, whose involvement in school possibly is limited to PTA meetings, payment of fee or annual events.

 

When a larger picture is absorbed a pattern emerges which clearly indicates the challenge having its root in the environment encouraged by the school leader or the principal, whose role is to envision, motivate, manage and monitor the academic team and students of the school.

In all the cases the school leaders have best intentions for their students but the approach currently practiced almost across all schools is based on the model which is losing its effectiveness due to changing needs of the new emerging technology driven environment of learning which empowers the learner to be not only self-reliant but also actively participating and engaging. This environment also has a complex structure of choices resulting in unique aspiration for each student which is highly individualistic in nature. This emerging trend is hard to miss.

Interaction and observation across various levels in a school including the students brought forth a realization that most of the schools are based on the three steps where –

  • The first strong one is sympathy
  • Second is information
  • Third is society

These three steps are laid out next to each other and although influence each other; seem to interconnect occasionally and remotely. In most cases the context is not present.

The research suggested that these three steps seem to be creating confusion and chaos in recognizing the needs of new learner.

Current steps; sympathy-information-society

  • Sympathy: The step which is based on belief system that the student needs only good grades for better future, the assumption also extends to include that no education is complete without the right choice; where in the assumed right choice is opting for science and math in senior years. This belief system encourages the principal, parents and teachers to take decision on behalf of students without any collective involvement from the student.
     
  • Information: There are lot of systems and processes involved and most of the research used for driving and implementing such processes are information based. The source of information can be primary or beyond but the researcher greatly depends on the data collected from others, others point of view draws greater attention than the process of exploring intuitive sense of observation.
     
  • Society: Third and the most chaotic step is society driven assumption which creates a myth that if a student does not score well he will not be accepted by “the society”, the student will not contribute successfully to the larger socio cultural impact.

This model of education has no balance and needs immediate repair.

 

Author: Jyoti Manral, Assistant Vice President, Design Thinking & Innovation, Pearl Academy 

 

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