A critique of rote learning is an educational cliché. Much has been written about it and almost every educator will passionately argue against it. However, the textbook still continues to be the holy grail of learning. You can participate in activities, test yourself, memorise information and learn. But don’t forget, the textbook has the answers. This obsession with textbook answers seem to cut across both government as well as private schools in India. To learn something is to seek out answers. But a textbook supplies readymade answers to questions that are not necessarily asked. And most times, students don’t know what to do with these answers except to write them down during tests. In What is Worth Teaching, Krishna Kumar, former Director of NCERT, says, “The textbook symbolises the authority the teacher must accept in order to work. It also symbolises the teacher’s subservient status in the educational culture.” In other words, even teachers don’t have the autonomy to decide what needs to be taught, forget the autonomy of students to question what they learn. Read more…

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