What is the National Education Policy (NEP) recommending for teachers?

First published on Medium: https://medium.com/@vidushis/what-is-the-national-education-policy-nep-recommending-for-teachers-703716025e0b

A New Education Policy is here after 34 years! Let’s read to know more about what the NEP means for teachers and student learning!

Inquiry-based learning, 21st-century skills, interactive classrooms, multidisciplinary study, and flexible assessments—it’s all there in NEP 2020. 

With the policy’s sharp shift from rote learning towards critical thinking, what do we as educators do to fulfill that vision in our classrooms? 

Changes in what’s being taught

The NEP starts early with its collaboration of different ministries to form the National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education. This collaborative effort is between the ministries of Education, Health and Family Welfare, Women and Child Development, and Tribal Affairs. This step is a first in the policy’s attempt to develop a holistic curriculum that exposes children to their local culture, and encourages them to think about the trades of different professions early on. 

NEP infographic describing the 2020-and-beyond spirit of education in India

Going forward, the policy recommends a multidisciplinary approach where the focus is on 21st century skills like coding in grade 6. The students will also enjoy flexibility in the choice of their subjects. The demarcation between Sciences and Humanities, curricular and co-curricular, or vocational and academic streams will go, and hopefully so will the mindset behind such silos. 

The policy glances at the innovative ideas that can overtake the only-knowledge-based curriculum, and transforms it into something hands-on. Let’s shift from the what to the how of teaching-learning!

Changes in Classroom Teaching with the NEP 

The NEP outlines the adoption of classroom pedagogies that move away from the rote-learning model; a much-needed clarification on the ambiguous National Curriculum Framework. It also reflects a welcome understanding of shifting socio-political landscapes, and how that will come to define the skills students need in the years to come. 

The top-down approach is finally shifting from syllabus completion to define learning goals, curate classroom instruction through innovative pedagogy, and link assessments to these goals. 

NEP infographic enlisting the core parameters of innovative pedagogy

The policy lays out different styles for teachers to transform the teaching-learning process. One of them is the model of experiential learning where the focus is on building inquiry and discovery in our learners. One way, as we discovered in our webinars, is to adopt project-based learning to deliver high-quality lesson plans with 21st century skills, and student choice and voice.

As educators, we must look at integrating subjects, streams and technology to create a holistic learning experience for our students. Add to it, the component of digital literacy, scientific temper, and computational thinking! Together, we have explored a plethora of tech tools to strengthen the conceptual understanding of students in Math and Science. Another important aspect of integration is to build real-world connections across subjects to ensure that students are able to apply their learning effectively. 

While transforming the curriculum and pedagogy, the NEP has also set out objectives to change the architecture of assessments; moving away from exam-centric, teaching to the test to effective questioning of concepts and skills. The idea is to promote skill-based goals and assessing those very skills. Student portfolios and peer feedback are a recommended way to start! It also checks boxes of self, peer and teacher assessment as proposed in the policy. 

Bringing vocation to the table, NEP has picked game-changing strategies like internships with local trades for Grades 6-8 from alternative education models (Waldorf schools). As per the policy, learners’ vocational education will be integrated at the primary level onwards. 

While we have best practices laid out in the form of a national policy, the onus of its implementation remains evidenced in the classrooms! The stage of flexibility and choice as well as the props of different pedagogies is set, we have to plan the teacher and learner pathways of upskilling and transforming school education. 

Changes in stakeholder roles

The NEP states that the newly-designated State School Standards Authority will curate a framework for basic standards of school infrastructure. The authority will maintain an open website where randomly selected students will provide feedback about their learning. It’s a test of the school and its faculty, more than of the students! As for other interventions, the jury is still out on if and how this will make schools and teachers accountable. 

Nevertheless, it’s now imperative to build a collaborative and encouraging culture of the school leader working with the teachers to derive expected outcomes of the policy. Professional learning networks comprise teachers, and sometimes school leaders, who work together to improve their teaching and students’ learning. In fact, the NEP strongly suggests that the National Professional Standards for Teachers will look at peer reviews as an important parameter of performance. So, let’s invite everybody to join and contribute to the Teacher Tribe!

As the ministries collaborate at the top-down level to form a holistic learning, we begin bottom-up to grow with our network and innovate with tenets of choice, integration, and inquiry! 

If you’re a visual learner, here’s our full playlist of webinars that elaborate on the pedagogies of the NEP:

Summer of Learning webinars playlist

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