what are some India’s teaching methods/styles in schools?
I was wondering what are some of India’s teaching methods or styles at school?
SOME ASPECTS OF TEACHING METHODS IN INDIA
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO STATISTICS
S. Chandra, Bharathidasan Govt. College for Women, India
The genius of Indian civilization is based on the eternal values of philosophy and
religion. True education is that which helps in realizing this goal. Our educational system
should not only provide information and equip us with knowledge but also ultimately
manifest the spark of divinity within each individual. Now every system of education
being at bottom a practical philosophy tries to be responsive to the needs and aspirations
of contemporary society. Teaching is nothing less than a vibrant contact of one mind with
another and this is an art which should not be reduced to a single set of unvarying laws
and rules of procedure which can be used mechanically to achieve success.
Education can no longer be only matter of communication of skills, knowledge
and techniques but will also be a major vehicle of social transformation in a
comprehensive manner. It implies the transmission of culture from one generation to
another. Good education should be able to train the minds of the students to develop
critical intelligence and prepare them for real life. Before discussing some aspects of
teaching methods in India, it will be both worthwhile and relevant to start with the ancient
educational system of India.
THE ANCIENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Historical records convincingly prove that the ancient Indians were the first people
on earth to make a systematic approach to the problem of education. In the course of their
endeavours in the field of education the saints of India soon discovered that education
means teaching, disciplining and training given by the adult members of a society to its
younger ones with a view to befit them to face the struggles and secure the ends of life.
Since they felt the need to keep an eye for 24 hours on their wards, the ancient
educators thought out the device of placing children with their Gurus i.e. teachers, under
the same roof, for all the day and night. Thus GURUKULA (meaning the home of the
teacher) SYSTEM’ was followed in ancient India.
After ascertaining the competence of his disciple, Guru would teach him the
Vedas fastening round his waist the threefold filament of Munja, a kind of grass, as the
emblem of his vow to keep his body, mind and speech under control. The student was
introduced to different subjects of study connected with the four principal divisions of
knowledge namely: (1)Anyikshaki (i.e. sciences derived from subjective or metaphysical
speculation involving keen introspection) (2) Trayi (the three vedas) (3) Varta ( subjects
relating to agriculture cattle rearing and trade) and (4) Dandaniti (science and art of
government) under competent teacher.
The old system of education in India was very different from the modem system.
The students had not to pay. It was thought that knowledge is so sacred that no man ought
to sell it. Not only so, most of them gave their students food and clothes.
After completing the course in Gurukulam, students went to some institutions in
search of higher studies. The earliest and greatest institutions were those of Banaras and
Taxila. The latter’s fame as a seat of learning was of course due to that of its teachers in
the 6th century B.C.
After graduation students undertook extensive travels to understand the ways of
the world and the manners of different types of people.
Ancient Indian literature does not furnish much evidence on the subject of
industrial and technical education, though it was upon the basis of such education that
ancient India was able to build up her own economic life and figured in the ancient world
as the chief exporting country.
However there is evidence to show that Statistics would have been one of the
subjects taught. Kautilya’s Arthasasthra is a Sanskrit text, written in a period around 600
B.C. While describing the duties of different officials, in chapter 2, it says that there had
to be a person to mark the animals that were a month or two old or that had stayed in the
herd for a month or two. Also the branded mark, the natural mark, the colour, the
peculiarity of the horns – with these characteristics the should record additions to the herd.
Another person should look after one hundred animals containing an equal number of
aged cows, milk cows, cows with young, cows with calf for the first time and heifers.
Thus we understand that people of ancient India were conversant with the topic
‘Association of Attributes’.
In the same chapter Kautilllya has given that statistics and records about all
agricultural and other properties in the village were to be maintained by officials, known
as ‘gopas’ and ‘sthanikas’. Hence we see that Statistics had been taught even in old days.
Thus the ancient Indian educational institutions were the spiritual rendevors of all
those who desired to realise truth. Moral education and character building in addition to
intellectual learning formed the essential features of such systems.
ROLE OF A TEACHER
Due to long and continuous domination of religious and spiritual features of
Indian life, the teacher has been playing the key role in Indian education. Even in the
modem educational system the teacher is the most important component as far as training
of the students is considered.
The potential of any system or a curricular innovation is directly related to the
ability of its teacher. No matter how distinguished the curriculum innovators are, how
carefully structured a new course is, how brilliantly the educational media has been
explored, the success or failure of any innovation ultimately hinges on the receptiveness
and flexibility of the classroom teacher. Nobody ever realised that a bad curriculum well
taught is far better than a good curriculum badly taught.
The person who teaches a subject to himself learns automatically. As Plutarch put
it, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” It is the teacher’s task to
kindle this fire.
The first requirement is that a teacher must have a sound knowledge of the general
character of the subject and its place in our culture. His base must be broad and
A good teacher may prove to be quite influential in establishing and improving the
standard of the students. An ancient Tamil text “Nannool” says that he has to teach
according to the grasping power and standard of the disciples and gradually make them
express themselves. It is necessary to build up an intuitive awareness of his impact upon
the listeners receptive faculties.
A true teacher realises that he has a debt to his successors and to society to pass on
the torch of learning he has been handed. Teaching is not an exact, well-defined activity;
it is a very difficult and demanding profession. It requires a continuing programme of self
improvement and professional development if it is to be practised effectively.
Generally any teacher at the college level will not have had any course in teaching
methods. Probably he will be guided or at least strongly influenced by the methods used
by the teachers who most impressed him during his studies and his own feelings about
how he would like the subject to have been taught that he is now teaching to others.
Sometimes the first factor may have a somewhat negative effect in that he may try
to avoid the monotonous teaching to which he was subjected. However, from the most
inspiring of his college teachers he learns the importance of an informal style that permits
the class to interrupt for questions, to request repetitions or to point out errors the
instructor has made.
To say briefly, a good teacher has to guide the students towards the point at which
the really difficult thinking and experiments can begin. Fortunately, with the coming up of
the University Grants Commission, a positive effort has been made to improve the quality
of teaching and research in India. A description of the present educational system in India
THE PRESENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Educational development in India was not uniform. Different castes, communities
and regions had different rates of growth.
In 1757 when the East Indian company embarked on its political career in India,
both Hindus and Muslims had their own indigenous systems, each deeply rooted in a great
tradition of learning and scholarship behind them. The earliest efforts to introduce any
form of education beyond the indigenous has emanated from the missionaries. In 1770’s
schools were started to teach English to Indians. An educational policy laid down in 1835
and reaffirmed in 1854, was on the whole adhered to till 1947. Then came the dramatic
and democratized change in the education system when India got its independence. One
could cite apparently impressive details of the growth and expansion of the Indian
educational system over the last five decades. The number of schools, colleges and
universities has risen manifold but unfortunately not the quality of education.
Indians are 1/6th of the world populations but their share of mathematicians and
statisticians in the world is a massive 1/3. But if you take 100 top ranking journals in
mathematics and statistics, there are hardly two or three from India. This brings out the
sad state of research in India. The potential is, of course, there but not the infrastructure
Most of the teachers teach text books rather than the subject and to be more
precise, they teach what was taught to them when they were students. Also an excessive
emphasis on examinations dominates the teaching methods and encourages cramming and
parrot-like repetition. At the moment, we seem to be working merely for the sake of
exams whereas we should work to satisfy our curiosity.
In many schools, students mechanically copy down what is written on the
blackboard and close their minds. Sometimes even blackboards are not available in some
remote schools and teachers teach only orally.
As we know, during the last sixty years momentous developments have taken
place globally in different branches of statistics, leading to outstanding achievements in
many interdisciplinary areas. But unfortunately the present Indian educational methods
have not kept pace with the explosion of knowledge. In spite of all these things, the
traditional method of classroom teaching has been supplanted by new and sophisticated
methods of instructions in a few institutions on an experimental basis.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE PRESENT TEACHING METHODS
While one can talk a lot about the present system being an extension of the
inherited colonial system, our failure to bring about the requisite changes must be
accepted. However what is needed is not a change in our conceptual mechanisms which
have proved their functionality over a long period of time but rather to be more sensitive
in our minds to the needs of the society.
But changing the teaching methods requires little training in educational
psychology, in educational philosophy or in the subject matter to be taught, while
improvement needs a high degree of each. Again, change is concerned only with “What a
child can learn?” but improvement is concerned with infinitely more profound question
“How a child can learn?”. Remember that educator’s easiest task is to change the
curriculum but one of his most difficult jobs is to improve it. Thus, the improvement
depends upon the craftsmanship of the frontline workers, entrusted with the job of
Our improved courses and syllabi should emphasise relevance and applications to
the real world. For example, life insurance, fire insurance etc. are some of the
conveniences of modern social life. But when we were feverishly working problems on
probability, how many of us were made to realise that the theory of probability had
anything to do with insurance?
Also children at first do not first do not feel the need for an abstract deductive
system of knowledge and cannot therefore appreciate it. Almost all the text books give no
better idea of the term ‘Average’ than the following. “To find the average of a set of
numbers divide the sum of the numbers by the number of numbers”. Many problems may
follow this definition. But not a single example shows why all this trouble of adding and
dividing is taken.
Consider the following problem. (1) “By repeating an experiment ten times, a boy
gets ten different results. Which shall we take as his representative result? (2) To which
height does a coconut tree grow?”
These problems do not contain the word ‘average’ but they bring out the real
meaning of the word. A student can profitably be initiated to new topics with such
illustrative examples, whatever may be the subject taught.
Also wherever possible, the curriculum has to be designed that it can be related to
the local environment. The village school, the tribal area and the urban school may do the
same topic in Statistics but use different examples drawn from their respective
environment. For instance, when the topic of correlation is discussed, the problems for the
urban students can be taken from import and export, income and expenditure, share prices
and debenture prices etc., while those for the rural students can be related to amount of
rainfall and yield demand and supply, height and weight etc. The tribal area students can
have problems from density of population and death rate due to a particular disease, the
age of a tree and its weight and so on.
Anyway the arbitrary drill problems have to be replaced by exciting statistical
projects each of which has a definite mathematical purpose. At the end of the projects
there will be definite increase in statistical knowledge. Such projects are possible while
dealing with topics like association of attributes, index number, analysis of variance etc.
The ability to compute is not, as a rule, indicative of mathematical competence.
But manipulative skill cannot be ignored in such a highly symbolic subject as Statistics
and indeed it must be acquired . Hence in the improvement process, some of the new
programming and computer methods may take over most of the teaching of manipulative
skills, leaving class time for motivational and conceptual aspects of the topic.
Adding to that, the purpose of Statistics is not so much the learning of calculations
as the understanding of the numerical and quantitative situations which social life presents
and the ready ability to deal with them. For example, Galton applied Statistics to the
measurement of inheritance of stature by computing the coefficient of correlation between
the stature of children and that of their parents. The expression and the calculations of the
results of the Mendelian laws of heredity in Biology are an example of the use of ordinary
high school mathematics while at bottom they are fixed by laws of mathematical
So, if the students are given modeling opportunities (real, open ended projects
with no set answers) they will both enjoy and appreciate the subject more. Since Statistics
comprises the science of decision making in the face of uncertainty, any teaching method
provide the framework for looking at all situations involving uncertainties and risks, in a
logical and systematic way.
As Swami Vivekananda, a great Indian philosopher, says, the very essence of
education is concentration of mind, not the collection of facts. Also unless curiosity is
recognised and given its due place, creativity will find a back seat in educational process.
Thus the ultimate aim of any teaching method should be to develop concentration of mind
and to awaken curiosity for independent and logical thinking which ultimately will reach
the higher level of research.
Accordingly, research is also a part of education. Good research in any subject
cannot be done in isolation. We need constant intellectual rejuvenation by talking to
colleagues in the same area, going to conferences and collaborating with others. To make
it possible fund is essential. Though Indian services like University Grants Commission
Department of Science and Technology etc., are there to give us that additional flexibility
and freedom, more and more finding agencies should come forward to extend a helping
hand to those research scholars.
As a very old civilization, India has proved as a laboratory of experiments and new
discoveries in the past. Our educational system need not make a complete break with it.
For there is much that is good there which can be used to shape and reorder contemporary
Indian society along the desired directions.
Still, India needs a dynamic educational system which continually undergoes
renovation and innovation. For that we have to make our academic institutions to be
incubators of new ideas and creative independent thinking. We should teach in order to
develop the learner and not to develop the subject.
Establishing a hall mark of quality in Indian teaching methods may be considered
a Utopian dream by some. Yet most our Indian educationalists are aware of the
momentous issues. So we, Indians, are still optimistic about the improvements of our
teaching methods which will lead to a climate of inquiry and thought. That in turn will
lead to a fast expanding intelligentsia drawn from the diverse social classes of Indian
Let me conclude by appealing to our academic community to develop the spirit of
inquiry, motivation, independent thinking, originally of approach and above all selfconfidence
among the newly emerging and highly dynamic group of young students.
- Academic Writing
- Case Study
- Critical Thinking
- Education Questions
- Essay Tips
- Essay Writing
- Free Essay Samples
- Free Essay Templates
- Free Essay Topics
- Human Resources
- Problem Solving
- Research Paper
- Review Writing
- Social Issues
- Speech Writing
- Term Paper
- Thesis Writing
- Writing Styles