Learning Experience From Pakistan Education Essay

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Introduction

On a wintry morning, standing on a bench outside classroom in verandah as a punishment because you were not able to do the assigned homework according to the teacher's standards - a routine practice at the school which I attended. With entry in the class, the teacher was expecting that every student will copy pages of notes from the chalkboard. Those students were entitled for maximum marks who reproduced theses in good handwriting, with no spelling mistake, and missing single punctuation mark.

Since I got my early childhood education and initial teaching experience overseas (Pakistan) - where the popular method of teaching and learning is repetition and learning by heart. Such practices persuade the students to memorize mechanically the narrated contents. This essay illustrates my overseas experiences of learning as a student and working as a teacher/educator for eight years.

Throughout in my childhood I was taught through chalk and talk method. This method lacking the educational environment wherein I could see that the hands-on work I do has some bearing on society. I assumed mathematics comparatively difficult than science like 'climbing a mountain'. However during the study of bachelor and master in education, the subject of teaching mathematics and science influenced me to critically evaluate my beliefs about the subject of mathematics which guided me to develop concepts about the contradictions between beliefs and practice.

As far as the use of technology during my childhood is concerned, I could not familiarize with it during my childhood. Though technology has become part of everyday life and is an effective tool of learning and teaching (Mitchell, 2007).

Learning experiences

In Pakistan, mostly the teachers in their classrooms dictate notes from the textbook and the students memorize them without understanding. This method of teaching and learning turns students into "containers," and/or "containers" to be filled by the teacher. The more skilled the teacher is in filling the containers, the better a teacher she is. The more gently the containers allow themselves to be filled, the better students they are.

Looking back at my efforts with mathematics during childhood, immediately the word that clicks to mind is dullness. And this was not sourced by lack of interest in school since I was generally a very passionate child. I was used to study languages, history, and other subjects with zeal interest. It was just mathematics that I feared. When I recall the method mathematics is taught it comes as no surprise because it was taught with the message that mathematics has bounded and fixed rules. Contrary to mathematics other subjects are taught as a combination of the history, fundamentals of the subject and also involving the students in discussions about the topic. Here to recall my 4th grade science class - where our teacher provided us the opportunity to 'see' and 'do' science in the classroom. Beakers of different shapes were filled with water and placed under different environments. It was an interesting memorable class of conducting mock 'evaporation races'. Every one of us was interested to see that whose beaker would lose its water first. Our teacher had explained us Brownian motion theory of evaporation from textbook but it was for the first time that we made our own conclusions based on observation of 'seeing' and 'doing' it. This experimental exercise helped us in understanding the effect of various issues such as wind speed and surface area on the rate of evaporation.

Now if I compare this with mathematics class where some of the basic and attention-grabbing mathematical concepts were introduced to us. At the 4th grade we were introduced for the first time with the notion of variable and also started to evaluate shapes. We were familiarized with probabilities in statistics to obtain the results which even now give me the sensation of being able to predict the future. But in the middle of all these remarkable ideas, this is how a mathematics class would go:

Teacher: A triangle with all three sides are equal calls equilateral. Okay?

Students: YES Sir!

Teacher: Explain about the equilateral triangle?

Students: A triangle with three sides of equal length is known as equilateral!

So we can guess one of the questions on the progress test would be: "What is an equilateral triangle?" Such like situation was the reason of lacking interest in mathematics. In addition, science that year continued to augment our interest: in experimented with mirrors, inky water plants were grown, insects were caught in jars, and discovered the material we were supposed to learn, while in mathematics we moved on to triangles which had two sides of equal length.

During the study of bachelor and master in education, I found the subject about teaching mathematics very interesting and informative which helped me to re-conceptualize my beliefs and practices about mathematics and shifted me towards more child-centred approaches for teaching and learning of mathematics.

The school which I attended was not resourced with computer technology (I am talking about 80s) and honestly speaking, I familiarized with the use of computer technology after completion of my 12th grade education. Since I became familiar with the use of computer technology, I feel more confident in presentations and communications.

Teaching experiences

Most of my teaching experience is local which is different from overseas because here in our country constraints, such as the lack of space (in class) and resources, fixed furniture and time limitation are comparatively less than overseas (Pakistan). In science and technology subjects practical work needs to be encouraged instead rather than memorizing. Being a teacher I recognize that for many students (like for me in childhood), the learning of mathematics and science involves feelings of sever anxiety and fear of failure. Undoubtedly this result from what is taught and the way it is taught. Perhaps this is one of the reason that Greenes (2008) said, "teachers are fundamental to development of young children's mathematical abilities." Therefore whenever I get the chance to teach mathematics, science and technology subjects I assure my students that I understand their problem and will work with them to overcome it.

However working with young children is breathtaking because they can learn most readily about the things that are within their reach and they can feel it with senses - visual, auditory, tangible, and kinesthetic (School Council Publications, 1973). With experience and encouragement, their ability grows for understanding abstract concept, manipulate symbols, reason logically, and generalize. Children learn from surroundings and from parents, siblings, other relatives, peers, and teachers (Clements, 2008). They learn from their surroundings wherever they are. Being a teacher I strive to exploit all these available rich resources.

For understanding mathematics and science, it is essential to do it, which is, practical work rather than memorize the facts and/or concepts (Clements, 2008).

Mathematics and science are seen as a mode of trying and thinking to recognize the world rather than being observed as the memorization of facts (Clements, 2008). For developing fundamental concepts and skills about these subjects in children we need to engage children in such hands-on and minds-on activities that match their cognitive capacities. For example, sometimes I take some pieces of fruit to class: two apples (red and yellow one each), two peaches, two mangoes, two bananas, and a bunch of grapes. I tell children to look into these fruits and find out the characteristics of each kind of fruit. They examine shape, size, and weight, color, taste, texture, and arrangement using counting and classification skills (How many of each fruit type is? Structure - joined or in on piece? Seeds or no seeds?) Sometimes their comments are noted also.

Mostly I give demonstrations in class aimed at involving children in discussion about the topic. Some examples of various situations are:

Showing different sizes of balls to children and tell them to watch the balls and chat about it features. Then I pickup a ball and say to look for a ball which is smaller than this one.

I inquire from child how old you are? I encourage and support child to tell his age by hold up his fingers. For example, once 4 years-old Kate (pseudonym) said, "I am 5 years old while holding up 3 fingers. I said, "Ok, count your fingers to identify your age. One, two, three, and four fingers. You are four years old."

In the words of Mitchell (2007) technology can be a tool for young children during their exploration. Here locally, I use computer related technology for children's cognitive skills development in mathematics, science and even in music by demonstration and running some software CDs programs containing games, quizzes and puzzles, particularly developed for children. I found that children do learn certain things from the use of technology which shows that computers clearly have an important place in childhood education.

Conclusion

Comparing my overseas and local experiences, I arrive at the conclusion that that formalized teaching from teacher to student is changing to many learning relationships such as learning between student and student, parent and student, internet and learner etc. The role of preschool teachers is multifaceted in teaching and learning environment. They must know the subjects they teach and also should know what their children know about the subjects concerned. In the words of Greenes (2008) "Teachers must construct learning environments to provoke children's curiosity." Technology can be used as an effective tool in teaching and learning to meet the goals of early childhood curriculum (Clements, 2008).

References

Clements, D. H. (2008). The Effective Use of Computers with Young Children. In J. V. Copley (Ed.), Mathematics in the Early Years ( pp. 119-126). US: National Council of the teachers of Mathematics, Inc.

Greenes, C. (2008). Ready to Learn: Developing young children's mathematical powers. In J. V. Copley (Ed.), Mathematics in the Early Years (pp. 119-126). US: National Council of the teachers of Mathematics, Inc, 2008.

Mitchell, L. (2007). Using technology in Reggio Emilia-inspired programs. Theory into practice, 46 (1), 32-39.

School Council Publications. (1973). Using the sense. In like and unlike: Stages 1, 2 and 3 (pp. 16-20). Science 5/3 Series (Unit for Teachers). London: Macdonald Educational.

Assessment item 1 Part - B

Observation Report 1 - Based on CD-ROM (Ages 3- 5 years)

Observer

MARYAM SHAHID

Setting

Indoors (Home setting)

Age

3-5 Years

Date

20/07/10

Day

Tuesday

Time

6:00 - 7:00 pm

Anectode

This observation has taken place at my home of four young 3-5 years old children A, B, C, and D. This one-hour observation comprised of running CD-ROM (hereinafter referred CD) on the computer. The children and parents are of Asian culture backgrounds and understand English, however mostly use Urdu language for conversation.

Observation

I invited my three friends along with their kids at my home on a cup of tea. One of them has two kids (1 boy and 1 girl) while the other two have one kid each. These four kids are admitted in different kindergartens. They leaving in the nearby surrounding streets, therefore familiar with each other. Parents confirmed that A and C have familiarity with computer use. Few picture books were placed on the floor near a computer (placed on a short height table) for observation purposes. The children take the books and looking into it with interest and comment differently on the pictures. I invite children to show them the provided CD on the computer. They generally responded with excitement and interest and left the books aside. I put the CD in the computer and as it was about to run, they speak that now we will play game one by one. D says, "I don't know how to play game on the computer." A replies, "I will coach you how to play this game." All the children were doing conversation till the CD runs. As the CD runs A being older and having some computer skills, take mouse in hand and put cursor on icon of 'step 1' but instead of opening new linkage it jumps to the top menu. With mouse and keyboard A repeats the same exercise in sequence on step 2, 3 and onwards but not able to open any icon in new linkage from the CD. Other children inquire, "What happened, is it not working?" A replies, "No and asks C lets you try." But result remains the same, therefore, asks me (the observer), "We don't know how to play this. You teach us how to play this game?" I advise that put the cursor (through mouse) and click on an icon, so it will start. C replies that we did it but its not working then what else we can do? D's mom tries to run a game from the CD but could not succeed. Then after sometime A and C left the computer, while B and D remained with computer for some time and try to follow the patterns/steps of A and C on keyboard and mouse. At the end all children leave the computer and start hide and seek game.

Analysis and inferences

At the beginning the children show enough interest for CD. But in the session they often at a loss to know how to proceed and face inevitable frustration with equipment leading them to discontinue with the computer.

1. Technology

This observation shows that children have more interest in use of technology confirms that technology can be a tool for young children during their exploration (Mitchell, 2007). For example, they left the printed books and focus on computer indicating that interacting with technology in the form of CD attracts children's attention to animated clues and resultantly will increase their comprehension. In addition, the observation also suggests that if a child has a little bit of computer/technology literacy then CD books can be an effective substitute when a supportive adult is not available (Mitchell, 2007).

2. Mathematics and Numeracy

The children were having the capability to think and work with numbers easily, to recognize their uses, and explain their relationship (clicking on icons in sequence).

At the end B and D attempt to open the CD, show their ability to reproduce patterns they see and to create new ones.

It is noticeable that children build a foundation for solving problems by formulating questions and possible solutions individually and with others based on their observations and experiences. For example, A invites B and then me (observer) to run the CD.

3. Science

Children learn questions about the world around them (how to run CD), the first step in scientific method, based on observation, experiments and interests.

Children (at the beginning A & C and then B & D) learn to conduct experiments in order to test their predictions.

Children learn to observe and record findings (As B & D observe A & C) and form conclusions (lastly discontinue since the CD doesn't open their interest linkages).

Conclusion

The use of technology as a tool to meet the goals within an early childhood curriculum, philosophy, or approach is important. Technology can, and should be, viewed with a wide angle, beyond that of simply putting a computer (Mitchell, 2007).

Reference

Mitchell, L. (2007). Using technology in Reggio Emilia-inspired programs. Theory into practice, 46 (1), 32-39.

Observation Report 2 - Based on provided CD-ROM (aged 2 years and 4 months)

Observer

MARYAM SHAHID

Setting

Indoors (Home setting)

Age

2 Years & 4 Months

Date

19/07/10

Day

Monday

Time

5:00 - 6:30 pm

Anecdote

This observation took place in the child's house. Her name is Susan (pseudonym) and she is 2 years and 4 months old. She is niece of my colleague. They are locals so their native language is English. I discussed earlier the purpose of observation activity with my colleague and she further took permission from Susan's parents. Therefore my colleague invited me to her house. The observation is based on the provided CD-ROM (hereinafter mentioned CD).

Observation

I saw Susan for the first time. In the first look I noticed her cute smiling face and a very friendly behaviour. I was observing her from a distance while her aunt was talking to her. I offered Susan few biscuits and toffees which she accepted with cute smile. As my colleague was informed about the purpose of observation, so after 30 minutes she took Susan to her room to play with toys at her room. Susan got really excited when her aunt gave her a toy. Her aunt took her into her lap and sat near me and I started to run the provided CD in her aunt's computer placed on the floor for observation purposes. Her aunt was telling her about the toy, "this is a cat and it has paws and fur and its name is Kitty," she told about that toy that she gave her and looked like cat. I was running the CD on the computer and was using mouse and keyboard and put the cursor on different icons in different short intervals for 15-20 minutes. The girl was looking me with keen interest and sat near me and left her aunt's lap. She started intervention and sometimes either to press keyboard buttons or sometimes rolling mouse. After 10 minutes her aunt left the room to bring mineral water for her and I also left the computer for her and sat nearby couch to observe her. It seemed that she forgot the toy and immersed in running the CD-ROM on computer. Sometimes she pressed keyboard buttons with her little fingers and sometimes holding mouse and whenever the cursor clicked on any icon and produced sound effect she looked at the monitor screen and laughed. She also tried to press CPU buttons and seemed whispering something to it. During pressing CPU buttons, the computer got off. First Susan tried to get it on by her own but when she couldn't then she started crying loudly demanding "put it on", her aunt was explaining her that "it's tea time, so lets take tea." But she was repeating the same thing all over again, to put the computer on, so her aunt on the computer and runs the provided CD again. Susan remained engage with computer and CD for 15-20 minutes until got bore perhaps nothing new was showing on the screen. At last she left the computer and sat in aunt's lap.

Analysis and inferences

In 1981 Back said that Australians are pessimistic about the likely impact of computer-based technology on their lives (Mackay, 1999). This observation also noted that children have interest in use of technology but get frustrated when they stuck with processing the equipments. They require a knowledgeable adult to guide them in order to develop their interest and keep them intact with technology for positive use.

1. Technology

Like first observation report this observation also suggests that children have more interest in use of technology and computer clearly have an important role in early childhood education. For example, the child left her toy and immersed with computer.

2. Mathematics and Science

Problem solving is a method of encouraging young children to construct their own knowledge (Mitchell, 2007). It was noted that the child builds a foundation for solving problem by formulating questions and possible solutions individually and with others based on their observation and experiences. For example, the child tries to put the computer by her and latter with support of her aunt.

Using mathematical language the child develops and describes patterns she sees and to create new ones. For example whatever the child sees when the observer was doing, she reproduce the same use of mouse and keyboard while runs the CD on computer.

The child identifies and begins to use the characteristics of length, weight, and distance etc. For example, the child remains at the same distance as the observer kept the distance between computer and her.

Based on observations, experiences, and interest child wants to know about the world around her. For example, she leaves the toys and plays with computer and tries the CD-Rom.

Child learns to conduct experiments in order to test her predictions. For instance she tries to click on various icons like the observer did.

Child learns to observe and record findings. For example, she observers the observer and then follows her way of running CD on the computer with the support of mouse and keyboard.

Child learns to form conclusions, for instance when nothing new is displayed on screen then she leaves at last.

Conclusion

Technology has great potential for supporting exploration and learning of young children having particular needs as they bring in animated things to life.

References

Mackay, H. (1999). Why the Luddites had a point. In Turning point: Australians choosing their future (pp. 236-250). Sydney: Pan Macmillan.

Mitchell, L. (2007). Using technology in Reggio Emilia-inspired programs. Theory into practice, 46 (1), 32-39.

Report 1: Observation of One Child in a Family Home Setting (Age 4)

Observer

MARYAM SHAHID

Setting

Indoors (Family home setting)

Age

4 Years

Date

23/07/10

Day

Friday

Time

7:00 - 8:00 pm

Running Record Sample - 1 hour

This is an observation of a child B, who is a four-year-old male Australian of Pakistani origin family, who is playing with his older sister and Mom with stack of different toys spread around at drawing room. The one-hour observation includes the child arranging toys and playing with it, talks with his sister and Mom. Here, better to mention that the mom in this observation is my step-cousin and I know the family very well. I focus my attention on B.

Observation

B frantically roaming around the toys hoping on and off various games with his sister following shortly behind him. She even played a couple of the 'big kid' games with B. For the whole time that I was there, B got to pick the game he wanted to play. B plays with electric toys and then decides to count how many toys he has. He rides on a pedal horse baby cart. He talks with Mom and sister and also kept engage sister in playing with him.

B lined up toys but not in appropriate order instead mixed small with large ones. But as sister advises him that if we place small toys in one row and large in other row it will be looking good. Then B agrees and starts with sister putting small toys in one row and large in another row.

B asks sister how many toys these are? Sister in response asks, "Don't you know?" B replies, "I don't know." Sister asks, "Can you count it?" B says, "No, I can't." Sister replies, "I'll help you. We'll count them." B says, "I have ten toys while holding up five fingers." Sister says, "let's count those fingers one, two, three……..ten. You have ten toys."

The Mom tells B, "you can take a ride on your pedal horse baby cart." B looks up on his baby cart then looks back at his mom and sister and smiles. The game starts and B starts pumping his arms and legs fast to go around and around. Mom and sister say to B, "Good job B! Keep going! But watch carefully and don't collide with objects in the surroundings. After hearing this B starts pumping a little faster, and then laughs hysterically after he realizes his accomplishment.

Analysis

In this observation I realized that by seeing objects the sense of sight is used more than any other (School Council Publications, 1973). During counting, the adult (sister) encouraged and supported him to explore his literacy and numeracy understanding as emphasized by Queensland School Curriculum Council (1998). While counting the toys, the child developed the capacity of thinking and how to work with numbers easily, to recognize their uses, and describe their relationships. He learnt the meaning of numbers while holing up fingers referring to mathematics and numeracy. He described his thinking and observations while lining up small and large toys and applied mathematical skills through counting, sorting and comparing objects. This also indicates that he learnt to recognize and express patterns using mathematical language. Additionally, during counting he also built a foundation for solving problems through questions and answers with sister based on his observation and experience.

While inquiring about the quantity of toys, the child was aware about that how to ask questions about the objects around him, the first step in the scientific method, based on observations, experiences, and interest. Likewise his participation along with sister in placing the toys in similar sizes rows and remaining safe from any collision with any object around while riding on pedal horse baby cart show that he properly observed and recorded findings formed conclusions which are necessary steps in scientific method.

Conclusion

This observation activity shows that a child in early childhood remains actively engage in acquiring fundamental concepts from his everyday activities.

References

Queensland School Curriculum Council. (1998) Literacy and numeracy in the preschool curriculum. Preschool curriculum guidelines (pp. 58-64). Queensland Government.

School Council Publications. (1973). Using the sense. In like and unlike: Stages 1, 2 and 3 (pp. 16-20). Science 5/3 Series (Unit for Teachers). London: Macdonald Educational.

Report - 2: Observation of a child in a Preschool Setting (Ages 3-4)

Quaker hills Preschool

Observer

MARYAM SHAHID

Setting

Indoors (preschool setting)

Age

3-4 Years

Date

26/07/10

Day

Monday

Time

10:00 - 11:00 am

Running Record Sample - 1 hour

This is an observation of a young three-year-old Indian female child A, in a community-run preschool room. The one-hour observation includes playing during "center time" interacting with other peers and Mrs. X, the teacher. The teacher is of Indian background while the peers are from multicultural backgrounds.

Observation

Mrs. X. enters the class and excitedly announces that it is time for "CENTERS." The "leader" student (the teacher goes through the class list alphabetically, so each child will become a leader while the children are at preschool) is the first to pick what center he wants to work at, then the other students follow. In addition, I focus my attention on A. When all the other children have picked a center, A looks around and slowly walks over to the puzzle/pumpkin/play dough table, which happens to be empty.

Analysis and inferences

Mrs. X allows the children to pick their choice activities indicating a "can-do" classroom as well as "can-do" students. Here worthy to mention that A is the youngest girl of the class and seems feeling inferior therefore other students were intimidating her. It was shown when A wants to work quietly by herself at the puzzle table. Even though the other students intimidate A but she is aware of her surroundings and is able to make her own decisions (a step in the scientific method).

Observation

At her table A starts working patiently and quietly, Mrs. X while looking towards A notices that A is facing trouble in solving the puzzle. Mrs. X swiftly turns over to A for her help. A looks up at Mrs. X and again focuses on her puzzle. Mrs. X asks A, "what are you working on?" A without any reply just points at the puzzle. Mrs. X proposes, "Try turning the pieces." A does as Mrs. X. tells her.

Analysis and inferences

As mentioned earlier A is a "can-do" child. It appears from picking her own center to work at, and the teacher allowing her to work on the puzzle by herself but required guidance from teacher. Mrs. X has used Vygotsky's scaffolding method in his Zone of Proximal Development (where children can accomplish a task with the help of skilled others) (Fleer, 1995). Here we can see that A is not able to complete the puzzle by herself but needs the help of skilled others (Mrs. X) and she would be able to complete the puzzle easily. Here A using mathematical skills, learnt to identify and develops the ability to reproduce patterns she sees and to create new ones and also builds foundation for recognizing and illustrating shapes by tracing, manipulating, playing with, and making common shapes using real objects in the activity. In addition, she uses scientific skills and starts work by her own on the puzzle to conduct experiments in order to test her predictions and further learns to observe and record findings (steps in scientific method).

illustrate

Observation

As A finishes the puzzle, Mrs. X excitedly says "Good Job," "That was a tricky one!" A dumps that puzzle and grabs another one, and starts it. Mrs. X walks away.

Analysis / Inferences

A builds a foundation for solving problem individually and with others (here interaction with teacher) based on her observations and experiences. Problem solving is a method of encouraging young children to construct their own knowledge (Mitchell, 2007). This encouragement also made her looks happy and eager to complete the other puzzle and seems to be working more efficiently.

Conclusion

A child attains essential ideas through active involvement with his environment.

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