Wednesday, February 10, 2016

'Classroom is the worst place to teach science'

A news report from Panaji where the ongoing DD Kosambi Festival of Ideas. Arvind Gupta has been an inspiration and a big time contributor in keeping DD Kosambi's writings available on the internet, including via this blog.

TNN | Feb 3, 2016, 10.23 AM IST

Panaji: Play is very serious business. If there is no play, there is no learning taking place, said IITian Arvind Gupta, well-known for his movement to popularise science among children by making toys from everyday waste. He also said that like Finland, India, too, should give its teachers a status equivalent to IAS officers, to turn its faulty education system around.

Gupta, who was the guest speaker on day two of the D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas being held at Kala Academy.

In his lecture on Tuesday Gupta awed the audience with demonstrations of some science experiments for which he used every day and inexpensive objects. "Barbies, He-Mans and such toys are very sexist and very expensive. Hopefully, they will become extinct like the dinosaurs," said the 'toy-inventor' who maintained that the Goa science centre and 36 similar centres established by the central government across states are unimaginative in their displays. "These science centres do nothing besides occupying five acres of state land," Gupta said.

Gupta also criticised the government's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan mission and the NCERT syllabus, calling them ineffective.

"The classroom is the worst place to teach children science as all the science is outside the classroom. If children see the science that exists in real life, they will be hooked," he said. Gupta said that adding achieving learning through experiments is possible in a state like Goa, where the target size is small. He said that each private school in the country needs to lend its teachers for a few days to a government school to trigger a big movement in experimental learning.

Paying tribute to the genius of D D Kosambi, Gupta said, "He was spared the Indian childhood because his father, the great acharya Kosambi, had left for Harvard in the 1920s. Had he been sent to one of our schools he would not have excelled." He said that Kosambi was not given due recognition for his work during his lifetime after he wrote a critique of Jawaharlal Nehru's book 'The Discovery of India' and "exposed Nehru's lack of knowledge of Indian history."The Goa government, Gupta said, could consider making a comic strip on the lines of the Amar Chitra Katha series on the life of Dr Kosambi to inform young generations about his genius.

Responding to an audience question, Gupta said that he did not want students to make joining IITs their top priority, rather they should follow their passion, no matter what it was.