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Course summing up

Where we began!

We defined Study Groups as a forum where we could question, seek clarifications, and ultimately understand concepts, issues, ideas or practices in education.

We had two objectives for this activity:
• To learn to use study group as a technique for problem solving
• To identify problems or issues in education and use the study group technique to resolve them

We presented a statement or definition of the problem (open classroom in this case), some background material and extracts from books and readings on the Vidya Online site as the base content of the course.

Coming to the issue of Open Classrooms in particular, what did we try to ‘Open’? In order to answer that let us ask what was closed in the first place. Classroom transactions, which occupy almost 100% of school time, we argued, are closed. There are people, of course, who would argue that keeping it closed helps (discipline, structure, peace, efficiency, learning…) There are others who would argue that yes, a uniformed set of children walking in a line, fingers on their lips (figuratively or actually) could be a pleasant sight, but it does not result in learning. Children may memorise a number of facts, but do not become in any sense, knowledgeable or persons capable of thinking, taking decisions and acting on them. Schools therefore, can be considered effective only in the sense that the routines of the schools are very systematically carried out, records filled out and children passed on to newer classes, each year. There are a number of issues involved in this above arguments, which we need to discuss, clarify, accept, reject and find alternatives to. What is wrong with our classrooms was quite eloquently argued by Herbert Kohl (see Extract 01).

We offered ‘Open Classrooms’ as an alternative. Teachers could be more efficient, more creative, and their efforts more meaningful. We provided examples of OC (Extracts 03, 04, 07 and 08), provided arguments (Extracts 02, 03, 09 to 12), provided philosophical viewpoints (Extracts 05 and 06), which together are adequate pointers to the need and scope of Open Classrooms. Adding strength to the idea is the concept of Learning Centers at MCM described by Ruth Rustogi.

While the three set of extracts pointed to a wide range of issues pertaining to Open Classrooms, if you had a chance to read the books, you would also have gathered an insight into the complexity of the problem.

We recognised the wide scope of the arguments between the extracts and narrowed down our discussions to three specific factors, textbooks, timetable, and control.

Further discussion ought to focus on how these factors inhibit openness, what pointers we get from the extracts to overcome or at least mitigate their effect, and how we should go about it.

Like many other issues in education, the debate on Open Classrooms is still inconclusive, and perhaps as Larry Cuban says, will remain unsettled.

Where do we go from here?

Finally how do we conclude this study group? Do look up the accompanying articles and post your queries or comments using the adjoining form.

1. Life in timetable free classrooms by Jörgen From and Carina Holmgren
Accessed from Education –Line, [Accessed from Education-Line, http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00003899.htm]

2. Whatever happened to the open classroom by Larry Cuban [accessed from educationnext.org, http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext/3288371.html]


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