Monday, July 29, 2013

'Did you understand?'

Teacher explains a subject for several minutes
At the end of the explanation
Teacher: Did you understand?
Students: Yes sir/madam
Teacher: Goood!!
Teacher goes on to explain the next topic
Teacher: Did you understand?
Students: Yes sir/madam
Teacher: Very goood!
Bell rings
Teacher: Thats all for today
Students: Thank you sir

This is what happens in a typical Bhutanese classroom. This question 'Did you understand?', it ails the teaching-learning process. If you go to any Bhutanese classroom, you will not be surprised to find many teachers frequently punctuating their lecture by 'Did you understand?' question or 'Understood?' the shorter version of it. The question is used to assess students learning. But do these questions make up a good assessment? Going by definition assessment means to collect relevant information that may be relied on for making a decision. But these question elicits just 'yes' 'no' response from students and it does not help teachers fetch enough information to reach to a decision on whether students have learnt effectively or not. Thus, it is a blunt way of doing assessment. The entire assessment process gets substituted by this single question.

What is even more surprising is to find even the so called experienced and seasoned teachers using these questions. The prevalence of 'Did you understand?' and 'Understood?' among teachers indicates that despite of the emergence of many assessment techniques our teachers have still not thought out of the box and not come of age. 

Assessment is an integral process in teaching-learning process. It help us give a clear picture of whether learning objectives have been fulfilled and the state of students progress and learning. It help us identify gaps and lapses based on which we can plan remedies. Its a "process" and any process has to be well planned. We cant afford the whole process to be merely substituted by 'Did you understand?' or 'Understood'.There are myriads of assessment method and tools. The kind of assessment method and tools to be used depends on the learning objectives, nature of the subject, the nature of the learning situation, and the nature of learners. It is my wish that our teachers replace 'Did you understand?' or 'Understood' by proper assessment methods and tools and discard the trend of using 'Did you understand?' and 'Understood?'. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wimbledon 2013

Tennis matches have always kept me on my toes. This year's Wimbledon was as exciting as any other Wimbledon. I didn't miss a single men's singles match. As always the tournament started off with high hopes. However, midway through the tournament, it saw some of the biggest upsets. Many low ranked players knocked out many seasoned players. Perhaps this is the maximum upsets that Wimbledon ever saw. The first heavyweights to be ousted was Rafael Nadal by the little known Steve Darcis. The next upset occurred when Roger Federer the seven time Wimbledon and the defending Champion was knoced out by Ukraine's world number 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky. It was not only on men's side that saw upsets but ladies singles too saw some of the biggest upsets with Serena Williams and Maria Sherapova being knocked out in the earlier rounds. However the fairy tale of these players who pulled the upsets didn't last long. They were soon beaten.  Amidst all these drama two of the last man standing were Britian's number one and the world number two  Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic, the world number one. Andy Murray was aiming to make history in the history of British tennis because it has been 77 years since the last British man Fred Perry won Wimbledon in 1936. While Novak Djokovic was fighting to win his second Wimbledon title. He won the first one in 2011. After a 3 hour nine minute nail-biting match, Murray emerged victorious beating the world number one Novak Djokovic in three straight sets  (6–4, 7–5, 6–4). Murray was elated. And this was the moment. The moment that Brits have been waiting to see for 77 years. 
Andy Murray: 2013 Wimbledon men's Singles Champion