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Self-concept is a person’s subjective perception of their own self. It is an image of what a person considers their strengths and weaknesses. Integral to a person’s emotional well-being, it impacts performance at work, behaviour in the family and the social sphere. It is of extreme importance in the field of education as self-concept is a product of a person’s experiences from childhood to maturity, and impacts learning and academic achievement. Several studies substantiate the direct correlation between positive psychology and its influence on students’ performance in academics and other spheres of student life. Considered as a personality trait, self-worth, self-confidence, self-image are other correlated, often synonymous terms that are interchangeably used for self-concept.

According to the self-identity theory, self-concept has two key components - personal identity (a person’s unique personality traits) and social identity (characteristics influenced by absorbed from community, culture and family).

Psychologist Dr. Bruce A. Bracken (1992) suggested six specific domains of self-concept:

i. Social(the ability to interact with others);

ii. Competence (the ability to meet basic/required needs);

iii. Affective (the awareness of emotional states);

iv. Physical (feelings about looks, health, physical condition, and overall appearance);

v. Academic (success or failure in school performance);

vi. Family (how well one functions within the family).

Of these, our present education system is focussed primarily on one domain – academics.

Humanist Psychologist, Carl Rogers, presented the famous ‘self-theory’. This involves three aspects: ‘self-image’- how one views themselves; ‘self-esteem’ - how one values oneself or feels valued; and the ‘ideal self’, or how one ideally wishes to be seen.  When adults place conditions on giving affection to their children (like expressing love only if children "earn it" through desired behaviours and live up to the set expectations), children begin to distort their understanding of love. Such childhood memories leave them feeling unworthy of parental love. On the other hand, children who receive unconditional love, don’t need to continually distort their memories in order to believe that other people will love and accept them as they are. According to Rogers (1959), the closer the person’s self-image and ideal self are to each other, the more consistent is the person’s sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, there exists a huge gap between the self-image of students and their ideal self for we as a society are not working effectively on building upon students’ self-esteem.

Developmental Psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development gives a detailed research on how, throughout the lifespan, a person crosses eight stages of establishing self-identity and concept. In K12 schooling, a person is said to have passed five of these stages—Stage I (Trust vs. Mistrust) occurs at infancy and requires development of sense of trust when provided with care and reliability. Early Childhood brings the child to Stage II (Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt) where children develop a sense of self-control and independence. Stage III (Initiative vs. Guilt) is when preschool children begin to assert control in the outside world, and if successful, they develop a sense of purpose, and on facing disapproval, suffer from guilt. Pre-adolescents at Stage IV (Industry vs. Inferiority) need to cope with expectations from society and at school while teens or adolescents at Stage V (Identity vs. Role Confusion) need to build a sense of personal identity.

These stages must not be viewed in isolation while studying a child’s behaviour as it finds its roots in the prior phases and experiences. Inferiority and Role Confusion, if left unattended in children, leave them stranded and often aimless to pursue their dreams due to lack of clarity, guidance, or both.

Freud (1956) viewed middle childhood as “a period of latency”. It is the “age of the ego”, a time when the child looks towards the outside world, peers, role models, film stars for moulding their self-concept. At this point, they are ready to be initiated into the world of grown-ups and seek freedom from family.  

Child psychologist Jean Piaget (1952) focusses on a child’s cognitive development. He characterised middle childhood as a time when children become much more responsive to the perceptions of others. The development of self-concept, then, is marked by a growing appreciation of the self as a social object. For example, during middle childhood, individuals are most intensely aware of the evaluation of others. These years can be summarised as “I am what I learn.” (Erikson,1959). Depending on the experience of this period, children develop views of themselves as industrious and productive or as inferior and inadequate.  

Self-concept can be considered as a person’s definition of their own self. They define themselves on the basis of their own experiences and their environment. Self-concept is not just a psychological construct but a central structure often justifying our attitudes and actions.  Most psychologists feel that many who seek therapy complain of feeling unworthy, hopeless, incapable or lonely. Research claims that such feelings may gradually lead to antisocial behaviour which further delineates them from the rest, making them less productive at work and negatively impacting their emotional and psychological being. For Rogers (1959), a person who has high self-concept, copes with challenges in life, tolerate failures and sadness at times, and is open with people. Developing self-concept, therefore, becomes the need of the hour, to direct our present generation towards being content, resourceful and successful citizens of a country aspiring absolute development, especially when done from the very start of self-discovery, as young as possible.

Self-concept in Children

Self-concept is often more malleable in children who begin their process of discovering and creating self-identity for themselves. With age, self-perceptions become much more structured and they gain clarity on “Who am I?”

Interaction with the outer environment affects self-worth as a child grows older (McLeod, 2007). In the case of children, the immediate environment mainly involves their homes and day care centres/classroom in schools. While homes and families require mindset and/or cultural shifts and thorough counselling on planning and parenting for healthier development of the child, it is imperative that schools be recognised as hubs to develop active citizens, providing capacity-building in children for personal achievement and enriched learning.

High correlations have been observed between positive self-concept and academic achievement in students .

Related Literature Review

  • Clark and Seevers (2003) conducted a study to assess whether student self-concept positively affected achievement scores in reading and mathematics. They used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale to measure the level of self-concept. Academic achievement was measured by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. The results indicated a positive correlation between self-concept and reading and mathematics achievement.

  • Khirade, Santosh K. (2012) measured self-concept among the adolescent. Using Dr. R. K. Saraswat’s self-concept questionnaire, Khirade(2012)  measured self-concept of 80 boys and 80 girls. The results showed that the adolescent boys and girls had similar self-concepts, irrespective of differences in their physical, social, intellectual temperaments.

  • Awan et al (2011) conducted a similar study on the students of middle school. They found that achievement motivation, positive self-concept were significantly related to better scores in English and mathematics.

  • Another study conducted by Lawrence and Vimala (2013) investigated the relationship between self-concept and achievement motivation of high school students. Sample consisted of 250 high school students. The results showed a significant positive relationship between self-concept and achievement motivation of high school students.

    Research Problem

    her because she is unclean, has lice in her hair. Nor does she complete her homework. Twice she has slit her wrist in class.

    A one-to-one conversation with Divya unfolded a previously unknown facet to the young girl’s life. Divya’s step-father is an alcoholic, and her mother works from 6am till 9pm to feed a family of 8, including 4 siblings and grandparents. Divya scored 87 per cent in Grade 5 and won many awards in co-curricular competitions. Three years ago, when her father passed away, her mother remarried her uncle. Her step-father, sexually abuses her every time her grandparents are not at home.  She has complained to her mother, who feels bound to societal constraints and fears safety of her kids without her husband and his family, and counsels her daughter to let go and find ways to keep herself safe. Her mother, for such reasons, has resolved to get Divya married whenever she finds a suitable match for her, where age is not a matter of concern. Divya agrees that this is the only solution to her misery, as it will reduce the financial burden on her mother, and keep her away from her abuser. Therefore, school and studying are inconsequential for her. According to her, a lot of consistency and hard work is required to regain the attention and regard from her teachers, when her friends and family have already declared her as useless.

    Divya’s case highlights the fact that she too has a negative self-concept. She herself feels she doesn’t deserve better treatment. There is no place for students who are slipping, there is no one to help them get back on their feet. An interaction with 150 middle-senior school students of DoE schools, led to a discussion as to what children look forward to for better learning of themselves and what their requirements are for better learning. They expressed a strong reform in the way their CCA periods are conducted, where sessions on life skills, career counselling, soft skills etc could be given prime importance, along with the regular music, dance activities, with equal participation of all students. More than this, the idea of a teacher entering in the class, punishing those who haven’t completed their work without introspecting reasons and keeping the lesson a one-way delivery of content often limits them from confidently asking their doubts. Their responses showed that they wanted attention on them, as individuals, rather than on processes that have been followed since decades.

    Building Positive Self-concept in School Education

    School education in Delhi is making some landmark advancements and innovations in educational policies. Delhi government schools have achieved exemplary results in terms of pass percentage in the current academic year. They have considerably improved average scores across the city. There is a greater parent-teacher involvement in the education of the children. This proves that the current education system is strongly focussed on developing and enhancing cognitive abilities and literacy skills in students with the support of parents and teachers. “Mission Buniyaad”, a holistic programme is another useful pilot of the Delhi government towards better learning in schools. However, despite innovative pilots, there is a void that fails to utilize the (unidentified) potential of the academically low-performers in classrooms, or those who are emotionally or mentally disconnected due to mishaps at home or in school. Academic achievement, when measured beyond marks, is failing to fulfil the developmental domains of socio-emotional, physical, and creative abilities, all of which are essential for developing a positive self-concept in children. Passing high school is not leading to confident young individuals prepared for life at college, or even prepared for further study. Another hard-hitting reality is the negative influences on self-concept experienced by many teenagers in the city due to widespread economic hardships and its implications among others such as domestic violence, drug/alcohol abuse and depression.

    In a survey conducted in May 2018 among 120 DoE school teachers, 92 per cent believed that their low-rigour students can never achieve success in life and will have to struggle due to their inability to learn and score. This implies that many teachers do not pay attention to the individual concerns of their students to believe so. Their pedagogies might be brilliant, their knowledge and skills might be exemplary, but they were redundant since the children were not benefitting from them.  The survey showed that teachers are not aware of the difference in the learning styles and abilities of students in their classroom, and therefore unaware of whom they are catering to. There exists a homogenous structure for a heterogeneous group of children in classrooms—children are raised in different social contexts with varying parenting styles and different challenges; their aspirations in life vary and access to basics or luxuries differ for each child. However, they all study the same curriculum taught using the same teaching and schooling structures. This is also creating a gap in learning in spite of the consistent efforts of the teachers to achieve positive learning outcomes.

    Unfortunately, approach to teaching has become limited to achieving higher scores. Students find it easier to learn by rote from textbooks. Here, a child who can learn through reading and writing is a winner, and one who needs audio-visual aids or slow-paced understanding of the text, or gets caught up with jargons, becomes the underachiever in the context of scoring marks.

    Differences in children’s life experiences lead them to varied versions of understanding themselves, influenced by social relations, with respect to their successes, failures or social acceptance, which makes them internalise their self-recognition and image, contributing to an inapt self-concept, often leading to undesirable life choices and decisions, reduced productivity and undiscovered contentment.

    Research Tools

  • The Self-Concept Questionnaire (Dr. R.K. Saraswat, 1984) provides six dimensions viz. Physical, Social, Intellectual, Temperamental, Moral and Educational. It also provides a total self-concept score. It consists of 48 items, each providing five alternatives¬—Always, Usually, Sometimes, Usually not, Never. There was no time limit for responding.

  • The Classroom Environment Scale (Moos & Trickett,1974) was also used, with a True /False questionnaire of 90 items. This was a time-bound round. The questions were easy to understand and were in English, all directed towards different aspects of the classroom environment of the children.

  • Deo Mohan Achievement Motivation Scale (n-ach) (Deo and Mohan, 2002) was used for measuring the achievement motivation (need for attaining excellence or success) of these students. It has a total of 50 items, with 37 positive and 13 negative items in the scale. The score ranges between 0 to 200 with no time restrictions for completion of test. The questionnaire represents 15 factors— i) Importance of scores, ii) Academic motivation, iii) Academic challenge, iv) Achievement anxiety, v) Need for achievement, vi) Attitude towards teachers, vii) Relevance of school/college to future goals, viii) Attitude towards education, ix) Sports, x) Dramatics, xi) Interpersonal relations, xii) Individual concern, xiii) General interests, xiv) Meaningfulness of task, xv) Work methods

  • Previous academic year’s scores were considered as the academic achievement of the students.

    Result Conclusion

    Positive relationships were found between self-concept of students influenced by their classroom environment and their learning outcomes and academic achievement. Consistent high-performers had a relatively stronger self-concept as compared to average or below average performers. However, classroom environment influences on self-concept were only marginally increased for the academic achievers of students as compared to others.

    What can be done?

    The solution lies in building upon the self-concept of school students. UNICEF says that if self-concept is built in the early stages of a child’s development, s/he is closer to making informed choices with a strong sense of confidence, prosocial behaviour, increased clarity about self, effective goal setting and enhancing growth mindset. This also helps eliminate inferiority complex or jealousy in children. It might not necessarily lead to improved learning in purely academic terms, but most likely will develop the child’s interest in ‘more’ learning which will lead to healthier classroom culture and conversation, and further lead to more concrete approaches towards pursuing decisions. “Self-confidence (or concept) promotes coping skills, solution-finding and the full potential of every child regardless of their situation. Self-confidence is displayed in resilient individuals who show resourcefulness, perseverance, optimism, determination and creativity.” (UNICEF, CWC Guideline 3A)

    Children like Divya need skills to cope with their surroundings. They need emotional support and a conducive environment in which they can develop their self-identity and self-esteem, to prevent them from quitting education. There is an urgent need to develop positive emotion in children that will help them look beyond their state of hopelessness. They need to be involved in building their character to achieve personal goals and be understood and respected with their changes and challenges.

    Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) has received considerable attention in the last few years, but is currently not in the ambit of India’s RTE Act as a mandatory provision. However, it is during early childhood (0-6 years) that children develop their psychosocial, emotional and cognitive skills needed for survival and succeeding in this competitive world. The existing focus of ECCE on health alone does not help children in school readiness. UNICEF-India research claims that Early Childhood Education (ECE) programmes can “change the development trajectory of children by the time of entering school”. Research by UNICEF in India has acknowledged the effects of Early Child Development programmes on the academic and social preparedness of children for formal schooling.

    Several studies suggest that self-worth and school functioning are positively associated. Deficiencies in education are often thought to be due to the child's belief and internalisation that s/he cannot read, write, or do arithmetic. Thus, for a child to achieve, she and her immediate ecosystem must view her as capable of achieving success in life. This also suggests that a child developing a negative self-concept will not benefit much from school, where she invests at least 12 crucial years. Right after children complete Grade 12, girls become eligible to get married at 18 years of age, and boys are duty-bound to earn and support their families.  Therefore, the education department must actively brainstorm and resolve to enhance the self-concept of children in schools so that 12 years of school education equip these children to manage personal and professional responsibilities. Since self-awareness is an integral part of self-concept, students need to be made aware of their strengths, weaknesses so that failure in one subject does not make them feel like a failure for life. They need to accept their failings as a part of their personality and work to improve upon them. Self-concept building can take children a step closer to living meaningful lives and contributing to their communities and society.

    The introduction of Happiness Curriculum in schools is a brilliant initiative by the Government of Delhi for enriching mindfulness, and providing access and exposure to students from nursery to eighth standard through reflection practices and relationship-building exercises. Structures like these, when properly implemented, will show increased positive self-concept in children and benefit future generations.

    Proposed Solutions ¬— How can this be done?

    Children learn better when they are willing to learn. In school students, self-concept would include competence in academics, sports, neat appearance, socially acceptable behaviour and mannerisms. In order to make children identify their sense of purpose, teaching  needs to focus towards the same. Our educators exhibit tremendous effort, but it is time to align their efforts with self-concept building in students. Their endeavour should be to support students in becoming confident, individuals who are aware of their purpose in life.

    Teaching is not an ordinary profession, it’s a journey that only the passionate can undertake. It requires not just the right educational qualifications but the right mix of head and heart. For teachers don’t just teach, they make a difference to the lives of all their students. Teachers and the government need to work closely to create far-reaching impact and ensure that the government policies are executed in the right spirit.

    Solutions to strengthen self-concept in school children have been proposed in this section.

    Interventions in School structures

  • Volunteering can involve the potential of our able youth. Retired professionals or government servants, homemakers and especially college students, studying in over 250 colleges spread across the city, can be invited to volunteer for projects in Delhi government schools. Of these college students, many are a part of National Service Scheme (NSS). They can be asked to compulsorily give a fixed number of hours to mentor school students. They can conduct classes in basics of their subjects of specialisation. They can become the mediators between the school counsellors and the students by providing data or information to the counsellors and also take note of the process of intervention by the counsellor for these students. Also, being a third party, volunteers are likely to be unbiased in their opinions and knowledge sharing. Being young and energetic, they can be the friends that these students need to grow more vocal about their selves. They can carry out the relevant learning tests to gather data on the existing abilities in children. Community volunteers can  tutor, mentor students. They can be their confidantes who assist students with school work and provide other kinds of assistance to teachers and administrators.

    Recently with the SMC app, schools are facing difficulty in updating data as most feel technologically unequipped. With this experience in sight, volunteers can help teachers in updating this data on the portal.

    As appreciation, they may be rewarded Government of Delhi validated certificates/recommendation letters and/or academic credits for community service which they can use for their further studies. They can be equipped through a training which the Government can impart through either its own employees in the field or else by partnering with relevant NGOs or think tanks, similar to how SMCs receive trainings and support from organizations such as ‘Saajha’. Trainings should also be given to those monitoring or observing these models to be more involved with its functioning and expected outcomes. This will help self-concept building and exposure reach those children who currently do not have access to NGO-partnered programmes and counsellor intervention, which according to my experience as an educator and SMC member, is limited to very few classrooms/schools in the city.

  • Early Childhood Education programs  and primary school readiness by ‘Pratham Education Initiative (Delhi)’ through their programs of Balwadi and Balvachan  and supporting Anganwadis (government partnership) with curriculum, worker trainings and effective monitoring, is a brilliant innovation in the field of ECCE which is showing growth in enrolment and self-concept of early children and their parents, compared to those who lack access to such spaces.

  • Parent involvement: ‘Saarthi Education’  is an organisation that partners with educational think-tanks and advisors. It engages the indispensable stakeholders—parents—in their child’s education and learning process. Such organisations, when involved or thought-partnered with, can ensure solutions to breaking barriers between children and parents, by keeping parents more involved and proactive in maintaining a healthy and stimulating environment around the child. One of their models is training selected and trusted mothers from communities who further engage other mothers within their community. This engagement is guided through planners and modules provided by the organisation and parents are directed to sit with their children daily with their homework assignments. Parent-child interaction is encouraged through developmentally appropriate, easy-to-understand activity kits provided to parents. Through regular meetings and IVR as well as live phone calls, parents are counselled and taught how to use the kits. This makes parents find time daily for their child to become sensitized towards their child’s education and for children to find their parents relevant to reach out to, building stronger relationships.

    Volunteers can also be involved to implement similar structures or else partnerships could be helpful for implementation and impact. Along with such initiatives, the frequency of PTMs must be increased, and home-visits by teachers or volunteers must be made compulsory for children whose parents cannot or do not visit their child’s school to meet their teachers, for various reasons. This often shows the amount of investment of teachers in the child’s well-being, ensuring more parent investment towards their children’s requirements. This is quite successful in NGO-partnered classrooms such as that of Teach For India across Delhi schools.

  • Ensure reinforcement of self-concept through all the subjects in school curriculum: Value-based and real-life context inbuilt concepts must be integrated in learning in classrooms, a child can learn to apply knowledge, skills and also positive mindsets and values at once, as they must in their lives outside classroom. For example, mathematical problems can be based on value-based, self-concept based situations. Language assignments, chapters can be drawn from practical scenarios that initiate a class discussion of relevant topics without the child having to come forward with his/her specific personal problem.

  • Integrating ‘Right to Education’ with ‘Right to Learn’ : RTE’s enactment has led to significant growth in enrolment and attendance rates over the years, ensuring access to education across the city. Initiatives like “Mission Buniyaad” are evidence to unachieved learning outcomes where about half the population still struggles to be able to read text and solve operations at grade level. This is curbing the all-round development of children due to lack of literacy and numeracy skills, which are essential components of RTE Act. The focus must therefore be equally on achieving learning outcomes on holistic parameters and ensuring it reaches all children. Schooling must be child-seeking and child-centred; wherein excluded children are identified and shape their life experiences into healthy ones—where schooling is concerned with the children’s background before they entered school and what will their life be after they leave school. For this, improvement in percentage of professionally qualified and passionate teachers as visionaries of holistic education is a must, to ensure quality education. Other than this, to ensure better individual attention to all children, pupil to teacher ratio must be as prescribed under the RTE, which is currently not being enforced across Delhi schools. This can be done by employing more teachers, which is linked to ensuring school and college students have capacities and self-concepts built strongly enough to opt for teaching as a career, among others, confidently and passionately.

  • Time slot for students to voice their concerns directly to the Principal

  • Student participation in SMC: Children should be encouraged to freely express their viewpoints and also be involved in the SMC meetings to gather better insights as child is an indispensable beneficiary in the school system, other than access to the Sujhaav Petika, or Suggestion Box.

  • Importance of Child-friendly Schools and Systems : UNICEF has created a manual on Child Friendly schools, which involve some practices already functioning in Delhi schools, such as morning assemblies, award ceremonies, annual functions with performances by students on central themes, fair and uniform regulations to maintain equality in schools, practical experiences etc. However, we need to ensure that such structures are being implemented strongly and effectively enough to be utilised to their best by children. One way of doing this is providing a monthly planner of how morning assemblies must be conducted, with a central topic or theme to be addressed by the HOS or concerned members of the school each day. This is the simplest form of spreading awareness at one place to all students, every day. Such a planner could include key elements for discussion or addressal, any required props to be arranged, and duration. This will ensure objectivity and uniformity across schools and their learnings. Observations must involve strict parameters on approachability and availability of teachers to address students at a personal level, democratically and with mutual respect, to increase trust and conversation between students and teachers. Most importantly, ensuring happiness  in children while learning is the key to achieving better learning, which can be best ensured by the stakeholders immediately involved with children in classrooms.

  • Train teachers to develop and execute learning modules to boost self-esteem in children from all classes: Reinforcing the importance of setting learning objectives encouraging the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy , reflective practices and to gradually increase rigour and diversity while teaching lessons is essential. Education inspectors who visit schools must check whether learning outcomes are visible of self-concept education. These supervisors or monitors should be trained alongside teachers to be aligned with their objective and methodologies to ensure better feedback and growth.

  • Student Vision Scale – an evaluation of students’ holistic growth in the criteria of learning outcomes, this is a model successfully practised by Teach For India (TFI) Fellows across states in the country, including Delhi. The Student Vision Scale is an evaluation rubric used to measure a classroom/child’s performance on three domains – academic achievement, values and mindsets, and exposure and access. In this scale, Values and Mindsets involve strength of character development over due time, and require to witness value-driven learning in classrooms. Exposure and Access is to provide students with a range of opportunities to find purpose and sense of self by participating in various projects and experiences in and outside classroom. If such a metric of measuring achievement of learning outcomes is assigned to schools and classrooms, it can ensure teacher practices involving modules relevant across the three strands to ensure holistic development of the child.

  • Evolve new models of policies for school students with equal focus on all domains of learning to ensure holistic development. This means that the score card should give weightage to not only marks on the five key subjects but also consider children who are good at sports as achievers. Similar criteria should reward those excelling in practical experiments, empathy, bravery, value education, work experience, etc with good scores. This will make teachers and students consider these essential strands of learning as a priority, which will ensure quality education  in schools.

  • The concept of Peer Tutoring  has been proved remarkable in terms of providing mentors to children among classmates, to promote student ownership, leadership and healthier interpersonal relationships and culture among students. Peer tutoring has shown significant academic growth as children can reach out to their peer mentors to solve their doubts, with more confidence than with their teachers, at present. A Peer Helpers program, which trains students in helping, communication, and problem- solving skills so as to be effective in assisting their schoolmates in need of support, can be introduced. Lesson planning by students – In this, students develop and carry out lesson plans for teaching and coaching children. As a practice, great deal of success in developing leadership skills can be seen by providing guidance and support to the children. Such an experience provides deeper understanding about the problems teachers face in terms of discipline, common mistakes in work, etc. The mentees feel important on being given attention and learn to respect opinions of those their age, which inculcates healthy values and interpersonal relationships.

  • Mandatory aptitude and personality tests in middle school: Rather than conducting such tests in class 10 to suggest streams for final years of schooling, this testing if done as earlier as in the beginning of middle school, ideally Grade 5 or 6, can better prepare teachers and students towards working on the strengths of the child, and also deal with ways to overcome their weaknesses.

  • Compulsory skill enhancement of each student from middle school onwards, to teach them a means of earning a livelihood according to their interests and abilities right after school is essential. Soft skills training to make students job ready and confident adults to enter the competitive world after finishing school is of great importance in our current schooling system. This can be done during the CCA/work experience periods by trained teachers or volunteers. Even students equipped in certain skills can contribute to motivate their peers and exhibit their skills and gain confidence and sense of identity. Making students cognizant of current topics of discussion, like drug abuse, sexual literacy, crimes, legal awareness, stress management, mental health, myths and taboos, intolerance and secularism, waste management, nature walks, cyber bullying, cyber crimes, importance of physical exercise and mindfulness, personal health and hygiene, guidance for group discussions and interviews, career streams, college entrances etc can also be done.

  • Career fairs, internships, interactive talk sessions in partnership with media houses, government and private firms, entrepreneurs, cottage industries to inspire and introduce students to pursue careers in different fields. Internships can provide children an exposure to work and apply their knowledge on a temporary assignment where they get to see how professionalism and office culture looks like. These could be government-sector internships, to motivate students to aim for government services and jobs in future. Through career fairs, college students as well as established firms from different fields can be made available for children to feel free to pose their questions to them. Workshops with people from different fields to introduce different careers to students and how they can join them are essential. This is to create a bridge between the school years and the future education path to ease transition and provide an insight into the various careers that can be opted for. Students are ill-informed about the application processes, admission criteria, course options for different streams and the job profiles of different careers.

    Meeting and interacting with professionals from different fields who have achieved great success coming from small towns or humble backgrounds instils hope and confidence in students that they too can touch great heights and realise their potential with hard work and the right perspective.  This has a greater impact than reading autobiographies of outstanding dignitaries or watching them on television.

  • Develop a unique identification number for every child enrolled in schools, starting with Anganwadis. Information – personal and educational – to be compiled like a portfolio, preferably digitally, on a single platform for each student so that with graduation to the next class, the next set of teachers are aware of the student’s learning abilities, weaknesses and any and every relevant information about the child, to address them accordingly. This database can be a ready reference into the child’s social background and his unique learning needs. This can also verify the number of students who are enrolled in schools, how many have dropped out and how many are likely to go for higher specialised or technical education. This can also help track achievement of desired learning outcomes per child in the city.

  • Include experiential activities as mandatory while preparing learning outcomes for teachers: Experiential learning must be mandated through experiments or practical tasks assigned to each chapter, directing teachers of various subjects to expose their students to such experiences, the beginning of the session. This could be listed down similar to how every chapter of every subject, at present, has its respective learning objectives to achieve by the end of its teaching. Teachers must be held accountable to effectively use laboratories and relevant equipment to provide children exposure while conducting such activities.  

  • Provide more subject options to students from grade nine up to twelfth. It has been observed that though the Central Board of Secondary Education provides a whole range of subject choices, the schools open a few regular subjects for students. This may be to reduce documentation, recruitment of additional staff. Nonetheless, it closes some very vital subject choices for the students and kills the joy of learning among students by imposing staid subject choices. Children feel that by selecting from a limited set of pre-decided subject combinations, they often look for meaning in what they are studying, and instantly lose interest in pursuing the chosen stream any further, and find it a struggle to study for their exams.  

    Interventions in Teaching Methodologies

  • Strength and Personality testing of Students: This can be done by increasing their awareness about the subject-related fields that exist, and effective Strength-Weakness analysis with children using structures such as Johari window, SWOT Analysis, etc.  Personality and Aptitude tests play a key role in identifying children’s uniqueness and designing specific interventions from them based on the findings from these tests.

  • Teachers must increase relatability and approachability: They should empathise with children and encourage their curiosity and learning pace. Structures like sharing circles with teachers and children sitting together, sharing their lives, challenges and experiences also helps children express their thoughts and overcome their complexes and difficulties with ease. This involves an attitude shift, along with passion for teaching, which allows a pleasant conversation with children when they raise doubts or when they fail to respond in classes. This makes a student comfortable in her learning environment and inspires her to learn more and work harder, for she feels more understood and respected, and therefore, confident.

  • Reflection is an essential aspect of learning and teaching. Reflective Practices refer to learning from reflection of a person’s actions and experiences. This allows for self-assessment and reviewing of decisions and practices. Such reflections can be done by both teachers and students to maximise their output and impact, as it allows to identify hindrances and help equip oneself to overcomes those. This will also enable teachers identify learning needs and adapt their methods to find the best fit to each child’s learning style. Following the highly-renowned VARK Model by Neil Fleming , there are three major learners—Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic/Tactile. This theory suggests that learning abilities exist in all, but vary from person to person. This model justifies different versions of teaching and learning, reshaping teaching customs or existing pedagogies, and allow scope for improvement and innovation. This will ensure self-concept development in both students and teachers simultaneously.

  • Set personal goals of achieving outcomes: Teach For India’s evaluation tool for Fellows/Teachers, namely the ‘Fellow Commitment Scale’, is centred around benchmarks for teachers on holistic grounds, towards witnessing impact of their efforts on their students. These include Commitment to Personal Transformation, which can be ensured through the reflective practices model; Commitment to Collective Action, wherein teachers must act as  a part of the Education Revolution movement; and Commitment to Eduational Equity, in which teachers associate themselves to the cause of eradicating illiteracy to their best capacities.

  • Some good practices can be adopted from the business world such as ‘Student of the Week’ initiative, wherein different strengths are given equal consideration and appreciation, giving chance to each child of a class to win the title, a key enabler of self-concept in children. Initiatives to address rather than punish the weaknesses of children where programmes can be planned to support students who face challenges at home, in their environment or other adolescent behavioural issues.

  • Integrate learning with the purpose of teaching: Explaining the “why” behind every topic and exercise helps children and teachers see meaning for the interaction held about it in class. This furthers the learning of the child as s/he is most likely to pay more attention after aligning themselves with the purpose of studying. This also increases interest in children towards learning.

  • Ownership participation through student leaders, class representatives, student council members: This could be done to ensure each child learns to take responsibility of others in their class, and expresses care and concern for their classmates as one community. This can be done on rotating basis to hear every child’s voice and instil in them the confidence to speak up for their role and actions, and express their ideas for the betterment of their class. Participation of all students must be ensured in some responsibility sharing or the other to boost self-concept in all the diverse students, irrespective of their learning abilities, academic excellence or social background.

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