Learning Paradigms Today, a workshop organized by FICA in collaboration with the Asia Art Archive, was envisioned as a forum to collectively assess, share and develop teaching strategies in the predicament of the pandemic we all find ourselves in. The four-day workshop saw teachers, art educators and artists from different parts of India, Nepal and Hong Kong put their heads together in a bid to do their best to break down the challenges, opportunities and unique channels of education the recent shift to online learning has left open to us.
How have children coped with the shutting down of schools? How do we sustain contact with students and continue the learning process in the absence of a shared physical space? What do we prioritize? Educators across the world have spent the last few months experimenting and coming up with various online, offline, and hybrid solutions to answer these questions and keep their respective practices afloat. Thanks to FICA, over 30 educators were able to pool their experiences and expertise together to develop strategies, discuss experiments and design creative responses to the question of learning in our current times.
A common observation noted was the fact that the changes brought about by the pandemic, though situational, may not be short-term but have long-term implications across the world for the future of education and life as we know it. Keeping this in mind, the need to address the emotional needs and well-being of children as a vital aspect of education becomes more important than ever. The steps we decide to take now may impact our sociability and how we interact and come together for a long time.
When discussing resources, we acknowledged the need to keep in mind that between the endless resources available online, the immediate resources found in the child’s home, and the variety of technical interfaces available to us, we have extremely varied and vast means of education at our fingertips that can be mobilized in multiple ways. The workshop was designed taking cognizance of these shifts when speaking of online education.
Another point brought up was the importance of educators focusing on improving the quality of education rather than the quantity. For the past few years, developing countries like India have seen a sharp spike in the number of children going to school and staying in school.
Studies, however, have shown that while programmes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Right to Education Act have helped us come a long way towards making education a fundamental right of every child in the country, an increase of access has not necessarily translated into learning outcomes. A study by the non-profit Pratham showed that more than half of Grade 5 students have not mastered Grade 2 literacy, a fact that reiterates the importance of moving on from the success of quantity expansion to developing modes of quality improvement.
The workshop revolved around these key questions of the usage and availability of resources, practices to help furthering the emotional well-being of children, possible steps that can be taken towards inclusive education, and how educators can keep in mind the present condition of online learning that determines our engagement.
The Learning at Home series of materials available on AAA’s website was one of the resources shared across the group to help educators reflect on their processes and on art as a powerful medium for learning and helping us make sense of the world.