(Download) NCERT Revised syllabus Of Science (Class 6 to 8 )
The exercise of revising the syllabus for Science – or
Science and Technology – has been carried out with “Learning without burden” as
a guiding light and the position papers of the National Focus Groups as points
of reference. The aim is to make the syllabus an enabling document for the
creation of textbooks that are interesting and challenging without being loaded
with factual information. Overall, science has to be presented as a live and
growing body of knowledge rather than a finished product.
Very often, syllabi – especially those in Science – tend to
be at once overspecified and underspecified. They are overspecified in that they
attempt to enumerate items of content knowledge which could easily have been
left open, e.g., in listing the families of flowering plants that are to be
studied. They are underspecified because the listing of ‘topics’ by keywords
such as ‘Reflection’ fails to define the intended breadth and depth of coverage.
Thus there is a need to change the way in which a syllabus is presented.
The position paper on the Teaching of Science – supported by
a large body of research on Science Education – recommends a pedagogy that is
hands-on and inquiry-based. While this is widely accepted at the idea level,
practice in India has tended to be dominated by chalk and talk methods. To make
in any progress in the desired direction, some changes have to be made at the
level of the syllabus. In a hands-on way of learning science, we start with
things that are directly related to the child’s experience, and are therefore
specific. From this we progress to the general.
This means that ‘topics’ have to be reordered to reflect
this. An example is the notion of electric current. If we think in an abstract
way, current consists of charges in motion, so we may feel it should treated at
a late stage, only when the child is comfortable with ‘charge’. But once we
adopt a hands-on approach, we see that children can easily make simple
electrical circuits, and study several aspects of ‘current’, while postponing
making the connection with ‘charge’.
Some indication of the activities that could go into the
development of a ‘topic’ would make the syllabus a useful document. Importantly,
there has to be adequate time for carrying out activities, followed by
discussion. The learner also needs time to reflect on the classroom experience.
This is possible only if the content load is reduced substantially, say by
Children are naturally curious. Given the freedom, they often
interact and experiment with things around them for extended periods. These are
valuable learning experiences, which are essential for imbibing the spirit of
scientific inquiry, but may not always conform to adult expectations. It is
important that any programe of study give children the needed space, and not tie
them down with constraints of a long list of ‘topics’ waiting to be ‘covered’.
Denying them this opportunity may amount to killing their spirit of inquiry. To
repeat an oft-quoted saying: “It is better to uncover a little than to cover a
lot.” Our ultimate aim is to help children learn to become autonomous learners.
Themes and Format
There is general agreement that Science content up to Class X
should not be framed along disciplinary lines, but rather organised around
themes that are potentially cross-disciplinary in nature. In the present
revision exercise, it was decided that the same set of themes would be used,
right from Class VI to Class X. The themes finally chosen are: Food, Materials,
The World of the Living, How Things Work, Moving Things, People and Ideas,
Natural Phenomena and Natural Resources. While these run all through, in the
higher classes there is a consolidation of content which leads to some themes
being absent, e.g., Food from Class X.
The themes are largely self-explanatory and close to those
adopted in the 2000 syllabus for Classes VI-VIII; nevertheless, some comments
may be useful. In the primary classes, the ‘science’ content appears as part of
EVS, and the themes are largely based on the children’s immediate surroundings
and needs: Food, Water, Shelter etc. In order to maintain some continuity
between Classes V and VI, these should naturally continue into the seven themes
listed above. For example, the Water theme evolves into Natural Resources (in
which water continues to be a sub theme) as the child’s horizon gradually
expands. Similarly, Shelter evolves into Habitat, which is subsumed in The World
of the Living. Such considerations also suggest how the content under specific
themes could be structured. Thus clothing, a basic human need, forms the
starting point for the study of Materials. It will be noted that this yields a
structure which is different from that based on disciplinary considerations, in
which materials are viewed purely from the perspective of chemistry, rather than
from the viewpoint of the child. Our attempt to put ourselves in the place of
the child leads to ‘motion’, ‘transport’ and ‘communication’ being treated
together as parts of a single theme: Moving things, people and ideas. More
generally, the choice of themes – and sub themes – reflects the thrust towards
weakening disciplinary boundaries that is one of the central concerns of NCF
2005. The format of the syllabus has been evolved to address the
above. Instead of merely listing ‘topics’, the syllabus is
presented in four columns: Questions, Key concepts, Resources and
Perhaps the most unusual feature of the syllabus is that it
starts with questions rather than concepts. These are key questions, which are
meant to provide points of entry for the child to start the process of thinking.
A few are actually children’s queries (“How do clouds form?”), but the majority
are questions posed by the adult to support and facilitate learning (provide
‘scaffolding’, in the language of social constructivism). It should be clarified
here that these questions are not meant to be used for evaluation or even
directly used in textbooks.
Along with the questions, key concepts are listed. As the
name suggests, these are those concepts which are of a key nature. Once we
accept that concept development is a complex process, we must necessarily
abandon the notion that acquisition of a specific concept will be the outcome of
any single classroom transaction, whether it is a lecture or an activity. A
number of concepts may get touched upon in the course of transaction. It is not
necessary to list all of them.
The columns of Resources and Activities/Processes are meant to be of a
suggestive nature, for both teachers and textbook writers. The Resources column
lists not only concrete materials that may be needed in the classroom, but a
variety of other resources, including out-of-class experiences of children as
well as other people. Historical accounts and other narratives are also listed,
in keeping with the current understanding that narratives can play an important
role in teaching science. The
Activities column lists experiments, as normally understood in the context of
science, as well as other classroom processes in which children may be actively
engaged, including discussion. Of course, when we teach science in a hands-on
way, activities are not add-ons; they are integral to the development of the
subject. Most experiments/activities would have to be carried by children in
groups. Suggestions for field trips and surveys are also listed here. Although
the items in this column are suggestive, they are meant to give an idea of the
unfolding of the content. Read together with the questions and key concepts,
they delineate the breadth and depth of coverage expected.
The Upper Primary or Middle Stage
When children enter this stage, they have just completed
their primary schooling. It is important to start with things that are within
the direct experience of the child. The need for continuity within thematic
areas, and the effect this has on the structure, has already been mentioned
above. This is the stage where children can and should be provided plentiful
opportunities to engage with the processes of science: observing things closely,
recording observations, tabulation, drawing, plotting graphs – and, of course,
drawing inferences from what they observe. Sufficient time and opportunities
have to be provided for this.
During this stage we can expect the beginnings of
quantitative understanding of the world. However, laws such as the universal law
of gravitation, expressed in mathematical form, involve multiple levels of
abstraction and have to be postponed to the next stage. One of the major
structural problems that plagues science education at this level is the lack of
experimental facilities. Children of these classes usually have no access to any
equipment, even if the school has functional laboratories for higher classes.
While many experiments can be performed with ‘zero-cost’ equipment, it is unfair
to deny children the opportunities of handling, e.g., magnets, lenses and
low-cost microscopes. This syllabus is based on the assumption that a low-cost
science kit for the middle classes can and will be designed. The Syllabus
Revision Committee recommends that governments and other agencies make enough
copies of such kits available to schools, assuming that children will perform
the experiments themselves, in groups. Until a kit is designed and provided,
specific items that are needed should be identified and procured. Glassware,
common chemicals, lenses, slides etc. are items that will be in any such list.
Such items are referred to as ‘kit items’ in the resources column of the
At this stage, many children enter puberty. They are curious
about their own bodies and sexuality, while being subject to social restrictions
and taboos. Thus it is important that the topic of human reproduction not be
treated merely as a biological process. Thus the syllabus provides space for
addressing social taboos, and for making counselling on these matters part of
the classroom process.