Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVII No. 17, December 16-31, 2017

Essential to stress the Humanities

S. Muthiah

AN OPEN LETTER TO SCERT

Some weeks before the State Council of Educational and Research Training Committee announced its new syllabus for Tamil Nadu High Schools, your Editor, in his personal capacity as a person connected with Education for forty years, made the following suggestions to the Anandakrishnan Syllabus Committee. An interaction was promised and that was the last he heard of it. As suggestions are still being called for, he repeats them as an open letter accompanying the views of two veteran Social Science teachers.

The SCERT Syllabus Committee

Dear Sirs

1)Humanities must get as much attention as the Sciences. As in my day, History, Geography, Nature Study/Environmental Science and Civics-and-Constitution (which could be included with History) must be compulsorily taught as separate subjects from Class 3 till Class 10 by specialised teachers, not grouped together as Social Studies, taught by an ad hoc teacher. The studies in the first three subjects must follow this scheme: Class 1) City/town/local area of the school; 2) District; 3) State; 4) South India; 5) Rest of India; 6) South and Southeast Asia;7) Rest of Asia; 8&9) Rest of the World. The heritage and environment of every student’s domicile must be known to him/her, leading him/her to a later appreciation of these features in the country and the wider world.

2)English language for teachers as well as students must be strongly focused on, whatever be the medium of instruction in the school. There must be specialised training for teachers in Communicative English and they would need to pass on the knowledge to the children. Children must be ready to answer in English simple questions about their subject/interest asked in English. In fact, they would need to be prepared to ask questions and carry on a dialogue in the medium of instruction as well as in English.

3)Also compulsory must be moral instruction/ethics, a vocation chosen from three or four options offered (carpentry, motor vehicle or electrical engineering, farming, needlework, nursing, weaving etc.), physical education, and sport. Every student needs to learn to be hands-on and also appreciate the dignity of labour. Students also need to develop values and healthy bodies with healthy minds. If there are no grounds for sport, space can be made for indoor games like table tennis, squash, wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and badminton, for example.

4)There must be a library in each school with a variety of books and every child must be encouraged to read at least one book a week. It was from such reading that I got my first lessons in history and language.

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