Friday, April 4, 2014

Teaching is Going Beyond the Prescribed Text Book

Teaching is Going Beyond the Prescribed Text Book

Teaching is Going Beyond the Prescribed Text Book

Teaching Methodology


Text book is a learning aid for the student. It is the primary source of learning. There are many other sources.
Text book is a teaching aid for the teacher. The knowledge base of the teacher is much larger than the text book. This fact is ensured by appointing persons with higher qualifications for teaching. For example in India. primary classes are taught by person with 10 years of school education with further training in teaching. Higher education, from 6th class onwards, or especially from 8th class onwards is taught by graduates with teacher training. 11th and 12th classes and undergraduate classes are taught by persons with post graduate qualifications. Post graduate classes are taught by people with Ph.d. qualification.

Teachers have to use their knowledge base in teaching. They should not depend only on the text book for conducting their teaching assignments. Recently,  there was a conference of research alumni of IIT Bombay. In that conference, 91 year old Dr. Bhattacharya stated that if the teacher refers only the same text that the student is going to use or prescribed to use, such teaching will be mediocre teaching. A teacher has to consult many more sources and bring the important issues from those sources into his classroom teaching by integrating with the material in the prescribed text book.

One of the scholars in teaching recommends that a teacher has to be like an iceberg. What is visible is his command on the material in the text book that he is using in the class. The knowledge base of his is invisible. Like the ratios in an iceberg between the visible and invisible portions, which could be anywhere between 1:5 to 1:10, the teacher's knowledge base has to be many more times compared to his class room delivery.
How does a teacher accumulate the knowledge base? One way is by having a higher academic qualification. A higher academic qualification ensures that the teacher has depth. There are instances wherein teachers have to teach subjects that themselves have not learnt in a formal way. This happens in higher education institutes. The needs of the institute are to be satisfied or fulfilled by existing faculty members and therefore the teacher has to take up subjects with which is familiarity is low. What is the prescription for such teachers or teachers in general to acquire depth?  A teacher  has to study one full book for each chapter that he is taking in a class. To elaborate the prescription, we may say a teacher has to read a book on "heat" or thermal physics to teach a simple chapter on "measurement of temperature".

Teacher also needs to have breadth. To acquire breadth, he needs to study six different books written for the same syllabus. This study will give him alternate ways of explaining things. This will enable him to try an alternative way of explaining whenever his students find it difficult to understand the explanation given in the text book.

A teacher needs to have familiarity. For this the prescription is that a teacher has to study the lesson that he is planning to teach at least six time including rehearsals.

Case study method is being promoted in business schools. Unfortunately, proponents of case study method talk more of failure of the method and less of its success in class room. The proponents blame the teacher community, that they go to a case study class without adequate preparation. But any teacher does not go to a lecture class without adequate preparation. He should not and does not normally go to the case study class also without adequate preparation. Hence the prescription, for the case study class also is  that the teacher should read the case and the suggested teaching note six times including some rehearsals.

A person with higher qualification becomes in practice a person without qualification if he is not refreshing his knowledge. Teachers have to revise and update their knowledge bases even if they do not teach that entire knowledge base in their class. This is the argument put forward by many for not keeping their knoweldge up to date. Your teaching becomes mediocre if you are not keeping your entire knowledge base up to date.

Related Knols

How to Deliver Effective Lecture - Guidelines - Planning, Preparing and Delivering


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Narayana Rao - 06 Sep 2011
Updated 4 April 2014


  1. yes thats right
    In my college my faculity has taken there teaching level to a interesting level
    in my shanti business school ahmedabad

  2. Good. You are appreciating your B School.