Approaches to Planning
Our educational practice is still based on limited ‘lesson
plans’ aimed at achieving measurable ‘behaviours’;
according to this view, the child is akin to a creature
that can be trained, or a computer that can be
programmed. Hence, there is too much focus on
‘outcomes’, and presenting knowledge divided into bits
of information to be memorised directly from the text
or through activities after ‘motivating’ children, and
finally on evaluating to see if children remember what
they have learnt. Instead, we need to view the child as
‘constructing knowledge’ all the time. This is true not
only of ‘cognitive subjects’ such as mathematics and
science, language and social science, but equally of
This perspective on the learner may sound ‘obvious’,
but, in fact, many teachers, evaluators, and textbook writers
still lack the conviction that this can become a reality.
• The term ‘activity’ is now a part of the registerof
most elementary schoolteachers, but in many
cases this has just been grafted onto the
‘Herbartian’ lesson plan, still driven by ‘outcomes’
at the end of each lesson. There is now more
talk of competencies, but these competencies are
still pegged onto lessons much in the manner of
‘outcomes’. Instead, teachers need to develop the
ability to plan ‘units’ of four or five sessions for
each topic. The development of understanding
and of competencies is also possible only through
repeated opportunities to use the competencies
in different situation, and in a variety of ways.
While the development of knowledge,
understanding and skills can be assessed both at
the end of a unit, and revisited at a later date, the
assessment cycle for competencies needs to be
• Activities could enable teachers to give
individualised attention to children, and to make
alterations in a task depending on their
requirements and variations in the level of
interest. In fact, teachers could also consider
involving children and older learners in planning
the class work, such variety would bring
tremendous richness to the classroom processes.
It would also allow teachers to respond to the
special needs of some children without making
it seem as if it is an obvious exception. There is
still not enough engagement on the part of the
teacher with the learning ofeach child; children
are treated en masse, and only those who are
regarded as ‘stars’ or ‘problematic’ are noticed.
All children would benefit from such attention.
• A lesson plan or unit plan for an inclusive class
should indicate how the teacher alters the ongoing
activity to meet the different needs of children.
Failure to learn is currently being mechanically
addressed through ‘remediation’, which usually
means simply repeating lessons. Many teachers
are also looking for ‘cures’ to set right the
problems that some children may experience.
They still f ind it difficult to individualise learning
for children by building upon the strengths that
children may have.
• Teachers need to understand how to plan lessons
so that children are challenged to think and to try
out what they are learning, and not simply repeat
what is told to them. A new problem is that in
the name of ‘activities’ and ‘play way’ methods, a
lot of learning is being diluted by giving children
things to do that are far below their capability.
One concern is that a focus on activities would
become too time consuming and make greater
demands on teachers, time. Certainly, doing
activities requires that time be spent in planning
and preparing for activities. Initially, teachers
need to make an effort to establish the classroom
culture for activities and to establish the rules that
will govern the space and use of materials.
• Planning with the support of appropriate material
resources for individualised, small group and
whole group work is the key to effective
management of instruction in a multigrade,
multia bility or vertically grouped classroom.
Instead of finding ways of juggling lesson plans
based on mono-grade textbooks, teachers would
need to devise, in advance, thematic topic plans
in order to engage learners with exer cises created
for their level.
• The practices of teachers in classrooms, the mate
rials they use, and the evaluation techniques
employed must be inter nally consistent with each