Digital Dimdima

PARENT'S TALK

Ways to lighten the school bag

Author - M Rajya Sri Educational Psychologist, Hyderabad 500073

What does a school bag consist of? Textbooks and note books undoubtedly, but it isnít as simple as it sounds. Can you ever guess the number of books a student carries? Roughly 35 books. Canít believe it? Letís analyse it. On an average a student has 6 subjects + computer science + G.K. + moral science + Atlas + Dictionary. For the main 6 subjects he has two or even 3 books each (For languages text, non-detailed, work book and for science - physical or Biological for social Geography & history). Total no. of text books alone range up to 15. It goes without saying they require a minimum of 15 note books for class work alone not to mention assignment, slip test, unit test, revision, homework, graph, map drawing, science records etc.
We have advanced in every walk of life. We have minimized the amount of work, we have more comforts and facilities than our forefathers, we give more amenities to our children than we got, but a school going child today carries more weight than we carried in our childhood. When we carried a small aluminium box for our books in our childhood today they carry big bags. Do you know the weight they put in, in those bags? It ranges from 5.5 to 9 kgs.
Why should they carry so much weight? One immediate possible answer is the syllabus is so vast. What we learnt in our graduation and post graduation, our children are made to learn in 7th and 8th classes. Naturally the textbooks are big and notes have to be equally big.
Why should they dump so much of information on so little brains is no doubt a burning problem, but that is not my cup of tea presently.
Why should they carry so much of weight everyday? Wonít it lead to hunchbacks? Canít we do something to avert this problem? If the children are carrying 5 to 8 kgs of weight, who are responsible for it? Are the children alone? Of course not! They may be responsible only for 5% of the problem. Who else? The Board? The institution? The teachers? The parents?
But the students of some schools are blessed to a greater extent. They need not face some of the problems faced by other school students.
How are they blessed?
1. The CBSE recently issued a circular to all students under its jurisdiction that students of class I and II should be allowed to keep their books in their class room itself with the option of carrying them home for the week-end.
Still more than half the students are seen carrying books up and down. It is partly due to the age-old practice of checking the childrenís books at home and making them study.
2. While other schools insist on 200 pages bind notebooks, some schools have 100 pages note books. If the students use these they will reduce half the burden of their notebooks.
3. The students can be relieved of their burden, if the class works are retained in the school.
4. Instead of having all the six subjects a day the students can be taught only three or four per day with double periods. This is mainly possible when only one teacher handles all the subjects. If teaching is done in one period, notes can be given in the other period.
5. If the homework is not given in all the subjects everyday, the students need not carry all homework books everyday.
6. Even for higher classes, there should be no necessity for students to carry all textbooks except mathematics and languages.
It will be enough to take a single book to take running notes for subjects and bring the subject-wise notebooks for correction by the respective teachers.
Other possible suggestions
1. For higher classes too they can have two periods of the same subjects since the subject is so vast that it can be dealt with at a stretch without losing thread.
2. For higher classes other than taking running notes, they can also write in papers and can file them up neatly later. Initially it may not look feasible for fear of losing them, but time is the best tester. Donít they file the worksheets neatly given by the school? Donít they do project work in loose sheets and preserve them for long?
3. Since the syllabus is done uniformly all over the country, the books can be published in such a way that instead of publishing 6 different books for 6 different subjects, they can make them 8 books or 4 books (for 8 months). Comprising of all subjects for a month or two!
This is a far-reaching solution! There are two ways of bringing about any revolution. One is, to change the individual, you should change the society. The other is the other way round. To change the society you should change the individual. Gandhi followed the latter and changed the people whoever came in contact with him. The board took some measures, the school is taking some measures, but the children continue to suffer. So it is crystal clear that social reforms canít change the individual. To begin with, let us, parents do our share of work and reduce the weight and burden of our children. Let us check their bags and make them remove unwanted books for the day. We should also see they carry the books they need only once a week, without fail. We change our children, they change their friends. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Little efforts make a sea change.

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