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

Vol. XXVIII No. 22, March 1-15, 2019

A look at the new Tamil Nadu school curriculum

– Dr. M. Anandakrishnan

The learning outcome approach indicates curricular expectations: on what each child should know, be able to do and the disposition that should be acquired. Learning outcomes for each class help the teachers direct their teaching-learning in the desired manner.

For ten years, students appearing for Plus 2 examinations were misled into believing that it is enough to prepare from a handbook containing a set of questions prepared. The Plus 2 examinations carried questions only from the guide. The students ended up with very high scores without gaining the fundamental knowledge in any subject. Consequently, they failed in national level competitive examinations and in the first semester examinations of the institutions they managed to get admitted.

To remedy this malaise and to revamp the school curriculum, the government of Tamil Nadu constituted a ten-member committee headed by me. Our task was to change the entire syllabus from Class 1 to 12 keeping in view the demands of time and changes happening in various fields. We met with hundreds of teachers covering all the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu. The teachers had come prepared with several valuable suggestions. We studied the practices in 15 countries to see the best features for adoption.

A significant step in designing the curriculum was to adopt the ‘learning-outcome’ approach. It indicates curricular expectations: on what each child should know, be able to do and the disposition that should be acquired over a period of time. This helps the teachers to direct their teaching in the desired manner and make parents responsible for ensuring quality education. If learning-outcome is satisfactory, it will eliminate the deficiencies pointed by The Annual Status of Education Report such as only 44 per cent of Grade 8 students could solve a Grade 4 level division problem and only 75 per cent can read Grade 2 level texts.

The learning-outcome can be conveniently assessed using Quick Response (QR) codes. At the end of each lesson, the Quick Response (QR) code is provided to test the understanding of the reading by the student. The QR code can be scanned by the student in the mobile device. The QR code will lead to the multiple choice question (MCQ) tests. MCQ tests are programmed in such a way that the student will move to the next level only if he answered the previous level. The tests will have questions in order of lower order thinking, middle order thinking and higher order thinking. The question papers for Plus 1 and Plus 2 will have a weight for all three types of thinking order. Around 45 per cent of questions will be based on lower order thinking, about 30 to 35 per cent on middle order thinking and 20 to 25 per cent on higher order thinking skills. If the student has issues with the basic understanding of the lesson, then they will be asked to go back and re-read the lesson.

The self-evaluation is in addition to the multiple choice questions that are provided at the end of every book to help the students who are preparing for the competitive examinations including NEET and JEE. Irrespective of the medium of instruction, the students will gain equivalent competency.

The State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has brought out new textbooks for classes I, VI, IX, and XI. The books for other classes will be brought out in stages. The innovative changes in the textbooks and evaluation pattern are mainly due to the efforts of M. Udhayachandran, former School Education Secretary assisted by Dr. Arivoli, Director, SCERT and his team. The efforts of the committee have resulted in a significant change in the attitudes of students and parents. – (Courtesy: Industrial Economist.)

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