What do you mean by ‘Project’? A task which needs to be done within a stipulated time which will be assessed and evaluated and the result will be calculated based on the work done. Phew! So having defined the term, I would like to start my tale on how have I disliked this term off late. Office goers stumble upon a variety of projects which call for an appraisal or promotion. Sometimes, the projects are launched and productivity is evaluated to raise the position or perks of the respective candidate. The students of business schools get subject based projects and presentations which aim to increase their soft skills and prepare them for the corporate world. Quite often the group based activity does not determine an individual’s capability but assesses the group’s knowledge which I do not approve of.
But all said and done, business school formats work like that only. But the term ‘project’ has reached down the school lane too. Pre-primary children have started getting projects which occupy larger portion of their curriculum. School projects are constantly piled up in front of them that take away most of their study and play time. Gone are the days when children did their schooling in morning or noon time and came home with a cheerful face, went to meet their friends and play right after they are back from school. Now the institution called school does not allow this to happen as the rat race has started rising above the neck level. The stampede called competing against each other has left each child weary and stressed out.
So coming back to projects, the children are given truck load of projects which they are not skilled or competent enough to deal with. Are they directed to the children? I would say no. They are directed towards home tutors and parents or elder siblings of the child. How on earth it is going to help the child if he or she is not doing it on their own? The child shares the project and parents research on the Internet or come up with their own creative ideas to finish the assigned project. What role does the child play in this? Yes you may say that they are not equipped to perform it and they will require some assistance from their parents.
In the first place, the projects should determine the efficacy and skillset of the kids. The creativity should be solely applied by the respective child. Only then can we say that the assigned project is fruitful and beneficial. For example, my student of First Grade was assigned a project related to the Science subject. She was told to choose any three natural materials and design some creative stuff and show their importance. She was supposed to connect creativity and application in the project. Now how will the 6 year old manage to do such a complicated task. So it directly came upon her parents and me to do it. I, being a tutor, contributed to it and finished the assignment before the said date. She got an A+ for it and her project was chosen among the top 5 Science projects of the month.
I am sorry if I am boasting about my ability and skill but if you ask me where does this entire activity help to showcase the skills of the child? Does the A+ display the clear picture of her ability? In this process, I won’t blame the child. She is bound to come running to me or her parents for help as not a single word was understood by her. I seriously despise the thought process of schools when it comes to assigning of projects.
I don’t know whether you will read this or if my letter will reach you. I am in the education field and have been following the curriculum and other activities. You give good projects but do they suit to the intellectual capacity of the children? I don’t think so. The level of projects given is much higher and they will not provide any direction to the child unless they suit their age. We are not here to judge the capacity of parents and other tutors but the real development of the child. So, here are some pointers which you could exercise in your approach:
- Assign school projects which will suit their age.
- Projects should be related to the subject and anything out of it ought to be seriously eliminated.
- Don’t assign projects as home work. Ask the child to do it right in front of the teacher. Give them required materials or ask them to get it but ask them to finish it at school. You could keep aside one period or some time post school hours for the project activity.
- Ask them to speak on it. Ask more questions. Only then they will fully understand the activity and it will get registered in their mind.
What is your opinion about school projects? I would love to know!
Saranya Iyer is an academic tutor and Spanish trainer. She also teaches creative writing to children. After working for 5 years in the corporate sector as a Marketing Manager in financial services, she quit her job to pursue her passion of teaching and writing. She has co-authored the book Plantain Leaf and Winged Heart. Her inspiration is Jane Austen, one of the leading authors of 18th century. Her interest does not rest only with books but also extends to music and art. She believes in the Spanish saying, “One who reads much and travels much, sees much and knows much”. The author stays with her techie husband in Mumbai.