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Portal Exclusive: Why teachers must focus on concept-based education rather than rote learning

Posted on Monday, July 22, 2019

Understanding concepts of topics rather than simply learning them allows students to think widely as well as augment their creative skills, writes Neelima Kamrah

To address the challenges in the field of education, conceptual learning is needed in the curriculum. In this changing world, although content can change, the concept must remain the same. Conceptual learning emphasises on 'big ideas' rather than focusing on subject-specific content.

This kind of learning enables students to understand the relevance of the knowledge that they imbibe from books with the 'real world'. A concept-based education not only improves results but also promotes the learning capacities to help students succeed in the future. Its instruction must begin with content skills and knowledge, established by local standards and curriculum guides.

It is an educational method that centres on big-picture ideas and learning how to organise and categorise information. Unlike more traditional learning models that concentrate on the ability to recall specific facts (such as the dates of an event), conceptual learning focuses on understanding broader principles or ideas (what we call 'concepts'). The traditional method of education is to solely connect students with information sources without knowing whether the former can understand the concept and remember it.
 
Making meaningful schooling
 
A concept-based education challenges learners to think more widely and deeply than a traditional, topic-based, two-dimensional one. It focuses only on knowledge and skills, whereas the former goes much deeper thereby developing conceptual understanding.
 
Relevance of education
 
To be relevant, a curriculum must look at all aspects of a young person’s development as a learner. Science specialists still need to develop their creativity; linguists still need to be fit; artists still need to be responsible as active citizens.
 
Happy and successful school-leavers have both a bag of great academic results and a bag of learning capacities too, which enable them to use these grades to good effect.
 
Benefits of a concept-based education
 
Education these days is tougher than what it used to be. It has adopted a more competitive and demanding shape. Concept-based education engages the mental power and emotions of a student to a higher degree than a more traditional curriculum. This aids students understand with facts and reason. They are better equipped to make connections to their own experiences and the wider world - both now and when looking at the future.
 
The intellect of these students is developed to handle a world of increasing complexity thus, producing an intellectual depth in thinking and understanding. Also, students’ motivation for learning is increased because they are encouraged to analyse facts and consider implications in a personally engaging way.
 
Increase in interest
 
Interest is a powerful motivational process that energises learning, guides academic and career trajectories, and is essential to academic success too. Interest is both a psychological state of attention and affection toward a particular object or topic and an enduring predisposition to reengage over time. It is difficult to keep the student at one place and keep him or her focused on what is being taught. Therefore, it is crucial to make the curriculum interesting. This speciality is clearly shown in concept-based education. Whether it is an English drama or a chapter of Science, conceptual learning makes education exciting.
 
Ease in retaining information
 
It is difficult for a learner to retain the information from textbooks and power points. With concept-based learning, a learner gets a deeper understanding of the content that helps him or her retain the information. For example, when we do something practical, we retain that information for a longer period without confusion.
 
Provide more opportunities
 
A conceptual learner learns to evaluate different aspects and make opinions by linking different topics. It increases thinking capability and helps in transforming information and ideas. It creates more opportunities for learning than just learning from textbooks and notes.

(The author is registrar, KIIT College of Education, Gurgaon)

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