Monday, September 20, 2010

School assembly - Is it just a routine or a generative force?

outines across schools - When we think of routines followed in schools, what comes to our mind first? I asked this question to a couple of my friends of various age groups. I have listed a few of their responses below

v Attendance taken by teachers

v Lunch prayers

v School assembly

v Switching classes

v Group learning activities

v Notebook correction

v Examinations

v Report card distribution

v Parent teacher meeting

v Homework submission

v Diary checking

I have also followed such routines as a student and as a teacher then. Now I go to schools as a consultant or sometimes as a trainer and witness such routines. As a student I was bored or sometimes scared of such routines. As a teacher I was questioning myself on these routines, also saw my students following such routines without any understanding.

For example, the assembly time

Students stand in line hearing to prayer, news, a few verses from religious books/poems, instructions given to the students, talk by the school Principal or the teachers. Some students just close their eyes and stand, some try to play some pranks on others, some moving uneasily under hot Sun, some just looking at their wrist watches to find out the time left out for the assembly to come to an end. Many teachers stand there controlling students without paying attention to what’s happening in the assembly. When asked about assembly time to children, many of them were unable to say what was shared in the assembly and their responses were, “we stand in line and listen to what is told”. Nor the teachers were able to give a clear rationale as to why assembly is conducted.

I am not sure if schools are aware of the purpose of such routines. The dictionary meaning for the word ‘assembly’ is ‘a public facility to meet for open discussion’ or ‘a group of persons who are gathered together for a common purpose’.

If so, what is the common purpose for which the students gather everyday? Have Schools discovered such common purposes? What do they do to achieve them? Have they communicated it to the other stakeholders of Schools – teachers, parents and community? Do schools have some indicators to find out the value adds for children during assembly time?

Are school assemblies simply a routine to be followed or a generative force for schools to educate, empower and envision a pupil community who walk into the assembly hall with a well-defined purpose?

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