The Teacher of Little Children
By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nasim
Margaret McMillan in 1930 said, “The teacher of little children is not merely giving lessons. He/ She is helping to make a brain and nervous system, and this work which is going to determine all that comes later, requires a finer perception and a wider training and outlook than is needed by any other kind of teacher”. At birth, the brain of a baby is only 25% of the weight of an adult's brain, which is 1.5 kg. By the age of three, it is 90% of the adult weight and by the age of six, it is almost as large as it will ever be. However, some parts of the brain continue to grow even in adulthood. The fast growth of the brain in the ?rst few years of a child’s life is a critical indicator of how important the early years are. All young children need periods of uninterrupted time in which they can engage in active learning, explore their environment, make their own discoveries and set their own challenges. They need opportunities to work with other children, and they need adults who are able to understand and extend their natural interests. Above all, they need opportunities for learning through play. “Play acts as an integrating mechanism which enables children to draw on past experiences, represent them in different ways, make connections, explore possibilities, and create a sense of meaning. It integrates cognitive processes and skills which assist in learning. Some of these develop spontaneously, others have to be learnt consciously in order to make learning more ef?cient. We would all like children to become successful learners.” Bennet et al (1996). Educational kits developed by NEEC helps in strengthening the concepts in science and mathematics through playing with TLM‘s manufactured by NEEC and integrating with other children in their classroom during early years of education. In Pakistan, we really have to tackle very aggressively education of under l5 which is nearly 40% of the population (roughly 64 million) and adult literacy program. Nearly 50 million Pakistanis (half the country's adult population) cannot read. Only 60 percent of Pakistani children complete 10 years of school, and only 10 percent complete 12 years. Despite the continuous efforts by the Ministry of Education, there is ample room for improvement in Pakistan’s education. The quality of teachers is considered as one of big challenges to be tackled. The new General Science Curriculum for grades IV- VIII, which is scheduled to be effective from 2010, is one of the signi?cant measures to improve the quality of science education. “Student-centered and inquiry-based (SCIB) learning” is its key concept. In Pakistan, we need to look at teacher /student ratio while examining the effect of child-centered teaching approaches. NEEC has bigger challenges and opportunities to grow and play a leading role in the science education of our children across Pakistan.
Note: This message was written for NEEC's quarterly newsletter (Apr-Jun-2010) by Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nasim.