Q & A
Q.14 In particular, what are the facilitating conditions for
the children’s knowledge construction?
Teacher should provide an environment conducive to
learning, where children feel secure, where there is absence
of fear and which is governed by relationships of equality
and equity. If students feel that they are valued and
their own knowledge about their surroundings such as
their homes, communities, languages and cultures are
valuable as resources of experiences to be analysed and
inquired into at school, they get motivated to learn. The
curriculum must enable children to find their voices,
nurture their curiosity, to do things, to ask questions and
to pursue investigations, sharing and integrating their
experiences with school knowledge. Learning should not
be equated with children‘s ability to reproduce textual
Would you please give some ideas for integrating children’s
experiences and local knowledge with their learning?
Sure, it is students’ interaction with their environment and
integration of their experiences and local knowledge, that
leads to meaningful learning. NCF-2005 emphasises the
significance of contextualising education, of situating
learning in the context of the child’s world, and of making
the boundary between the school and its natural and
social environment porous. This is not only because the
local environment and the child’s own experiences are
the best entry points into the study of different disciplines
of knowledge, but more so because the aim of knowledge
is to connect with the world. It is not a means to an end,
but both means and end. This does not require us to
reduce knowledge to the functional and immediately
relevant, but to realise its dynamisms by connecting with
the world through it. The local environment is thus a
natural learning resource, which must be privileged
when making choices regarding what should be included
in the curriculum or what concrete examples should be
cited in planning for their transactions in the classroom.
Q & A
Q.16 I recognise that knowledge is different from
information. What does NCF-2005 say about it?
Knowledge can be conceived as experiences organised
through language into patterns of thought, thus creating
meaning, which in turn helps us to understand the world
we live in. It is important that all children learn to
participate in the very process of knowledge creation, as
this constitutes the basis for further thinking and for acting
appropriately in the world. Conceiving knowledge in this
broad sense directs us to the significance of dynamic
engagement of the children with the world through
observing, inquiring, experimenting, discussing, listening,
Many communities and individuals in India are a rich
storehouse of knowledge about many aspects of India's
environment, acquired over generations and handed down
as traditional knowledge, as well as through an
individual's practical experiences. Such knowledge may
pertain to: naming and categorising plants, or ways of
harvesting and storing water, or of practising sustainable
agriculture. Sometimes these may be different from the
ways in which school knowledge approaches the subject.
At other times, it may not be recognised as something
that is important. In these situations, teachers could help
children develop projects of study based on local traditions
and people's practical ecological knowledge; this may also
involve comparing these with the school approach. In
some cases, as in the case of classifying plants, the two
traditions may be simply parallel and be based on different
criteria considered significant. In other cases, for example
the classification and diagnosis of illnesses, it may also
challenge and contradict local belief systems. However,
all forms of local knowledge must be mediated through
Constitutional values and principles.
NCF-2005 (p. 32)
Q & A
thinking and reflecting—both individually and with others.
Here you engage the children actively. If, on the other hand,
knowledge is regarded as a finished product, then it is
organised in the form of information to be ‘transferred’ to
the children’s mind. In this view of knowledge, children are
conceived as passive receivers of knowledge.
Q.17 Let us return to the all-important question of
universalisation. What are the recommendations of
NCF-2005 in this regard?
We have already discussed about it (please refer Q. 6).
Broadly speaking, the recommendations of NCF-2005
regarding universalisation are: (i) inclusion and retention
of all children in school through proper design of learning
tasks that reaffirms the value of each child and enables
all children to experience dignity and confidence to learn;
(ii) to ensure quality and equality of outcome for
children from different social and economic
backgrounds; and (iii) inclusion of the rich inheritance of
different traditions of knowledge, work and craft.
The formal approach, of equality of treatment, in terms of
equal access or equal representation for girls, is inadequate.
Today, there is a need to adopt a substantive approach,
towards equality of outcome, where diversity, difference and
disadvantage are taken into account.
A critical function of education for equality is to enable all
learners to claim their rights as well as to contribute to
society and the policy. We need to recognise that rights and
choices in themselves cannot be exercised until central
human capabilities are fulfilled. Thus, in order to make it
possible for marginalised learners, and especially girls, to
claim their rights as well as play an active role in shaping
collective life, education must empower them to overcome
the disadvantages of unequal socialisation and enable them
to develop their capabilities of becoming autonomous and
NCF-2005 (p. 6)
Q & A
Q.18 Universalisation is, of course, a Constitutional
requirement. We must give equal treatment to all,
irrespective of caste, class, clan, religion, language,
region, etc. What is new in NCF-2005?
NCF-2005 goes beyond equality of treatment. It
emphasises that school education should be so geared that
there is equality of outcome. Equality of treatment focuses
only on parity across different groups, for example, equal
representation of all in the curriculum and textbooks.
Equality of outcome emphasises that the processes
of education have to be designed to ensure that the
marginalised groups are able to relate to the curriculum
and teaching practices with their experiences and native
wisdom so that they can overcome disadvantages and be
able to perform on par with everyone.
Q. 19 I agree that these ideas are good. But they seem rather
idealistic and not practical. How will a teacher like
me implement these various recommendations in
A majority of teachers have a similar feeling. This is because
our education system is textbook and examination centric.
We need to go beyond the textbooks and see connectivity
between child’s everyday life experience and the knowledge
school provides. Once we develop faith in child’s abilities,
we will be able to design challenging tasks for her learning
and move towards engaging her in observation, enquiry
and construction of knowledge. The ideas we have discussed
above may seem impractical in the beginning but that is
because we are not used to them. Experience shows that
once teachers start implementing these ideas they begin to
feel comfortable with them and indeed enjoy interacting
with children with this new approach. Teacher autonomy
is essential for ensuring learning environment that
addresses children’s diverse needs. It is important to
appreciate that as much as the class room needs to nurture
a democratic, flexible and accepting culture, so also the
school institution and the bureaucratic structure need to
do the same.
Q & A
hapter - 2
Science and Mathematics Learning
Key issues and ideas of NCF-2005 pertaining to science and
mathematics; doubts resolved
NCF-2005 states that ‘good science education is true
to the child, true to life and true to science’. What is
this supposed to mean?
In the context of NCF- 2005 ‘true to child’ means that the
science we teach should be understandable to the child
and be able to engage the child in meaningful and joyful
‘True to life’ means that the science we teach should relate
to the environment of the child, prepare her for the world of
work and promote in her concerns for life and preservation
of the environment.
‘True to science’ means the science we teach should convey
significant aspects of science content at appropriate level
and engage the child in learning the processes of acquiring
and validating scientific knowledge.
NCF-2005 refers to six ‘validities’ of a good science
curriculum. What does that mean?
This is just a way of saying what the essential features of a
good science curriculum are. The six different validities refer
to cognitive, content, process, historical, environmental and
ethical aspects of a science curriculum. They should
provide base for the teaching learning of science. These
validities do not set the limit for the teachers. On the
Q & A
contrary, they provide freedom to the teacher to plan a
variety of experiences to seek participation of her students
in learning process.
Should I understand these in more concrete terms?
Yes indeed. Let us see few examples that satisfy the required
validity and alongwith them the counter examples that
illustrate the topics not reflecting the required validity.
Cognitive validity implies that the content should be age
appropriate so that children can understand them.The
way of transaction of the content should be according to
the level of the child.
Up to upper primary level, the basic concepts of light are
transacted qualitatively taking concrete examples from
their surroundings. At the secondary stage, the ability of
logical thinking and abstract reasoning develops.
Therefore, children are introduced to draw ray diagrams
explaining formation of images using different types of
lenses and mirrors. At higher secondary stage, children
are ready to understand the broader concepts of light like
principle of various optical instruments using relevant
formulae and solving problems with appropriate rigour.
‘Wave Theory of Light’ at higher secondary stage satisfies
cognitive validity. Based on this reasoning we decide which
topic should be taken up at which stage.
Teaching ‘Formation of Shadows’ in class VI, and
‘Differential Calculus’ in class XII also satisfy cognitive
Teaching ‘Wave Theory of Light’ in class VII or ‘Irrational
Numbers’ in class VI do not satisfy cognitive validity.
It requires that curriculum must convey significant and
scientifically correct content. We should not teach grossly
incorrect science in our effort to simplify it. The idea that
Q & A
electron pairs are equally shared in all covalent bonds
should be reconstructed as electron pairs are not shared
equally in all covalent bonds. In some, one atom attracts
the electron pair more than the other atom (i.e., a difference
in electronegativity) and causes the electron pair to be closer
to it than to the other atom.
The spontaneous and widespread idea of students at
secondary stage that force is directly proportional to velocity
should be carefully transformed into the correct idea that
force is directly proportional to acceleration. This is
necessary for satisfying content validity.
Explaining ‘Darwinian Theory of Natural Selection’ as a
‘natural desire’ of species to survive; matter is destroyed
during burning; electric current is used up in lighting the
bulb; do not fulfil the requirement of content validity.
It is an important criterion of a good science curriculum. It
helps children in learning to learn science. It implies that
we should not focus only on the content but also ensure
that while teaching, the right pedagogic processes are used
that enable interactive and activity-based learning.
Curriculum should engage the learners in acquiring the
methods and processes of learning science so that they can
generate and validate the scientific knowledge. It should
develop a spirit of enquiry, objectivity, creativity and open-
mindedness among the learners. In order to satisfy the
process validity, children should be given all possible
opportunities of observation, classification, measurement,
making hypothesis, experimenting, reasoning, arriving at
conclusions and communicating results in teaching-
learning situations of science.
Learning ‘Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction’
through a variety of different situations in the laboratory:
magnet and coil in relative motion, two current carrying
coils in the vicinity of each other, etc. and arriving at the
Q & A
mathematical law followed by solving problems and critical
conceptual questions, satisfy process validity. Similarly,
arriving at the approximate value of π as nearly 3.14 by the
students after finding the ratio of circumference to the
diameter of different circles and then generalising it
themselves meets the requirement of process validity.
Verbal description of the arrangement of flowers
(inflorescence ) in a plant, without exposure to plants in
the environment does not fulfil the requirement of process
validity. Other counter examples are teaching ‘Laws of
Reflection and Refraction of Light’ or ‘Magnet’ without
providing the children situations of performing activities
It means that science teaching should not convey a static
image of science. It should be informed by historical
perspective enabling the learner to appreciate how the
concepts of science evolve with time with better and more
reliable theories. Satisfying historical validity helps the
learner to view science as a social enterprise and to
understand how social facts influence the development
The ‘Periodic Table’ in Chemistry was earlier based on
atomic weight, later based on atomic number, and finally
explained by quantum theory. The concept of ‘genes’ in
terms of its phenotypic expression or molecular
understanding of ‘gene’ with reference to structure of DNA
accomplish the requirement of historical validity.
Teaching ‘Heliocentric Theory of Solar System’ without any
reference to the earlier ‘Geocentric’ model; teaching ‘Wave
Optics’ without reference to the historical debate between
the wave and corpuscular pictures of light do not meet the
requirement of historical validity.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested