(Download) NCERT Revised syllabus Of Science (Class 6 to 8 )

(Download) NCERT Revised syllabus Of Science (Class 6 to 8 )

Introduction

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 20-25%.

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 underspecification mentioned

above. Instead of merely listing ‘topics’, the syllabus is presented in four columns: Questions, Key concepts, Resources and Activities/Processes.

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 syllabus.

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.

 

 

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