MI Monday | Objectives, not Textbooks

Welcome to MI Monday I Week 6

‘Begin with the end in mind’ is one of the seven habits of highly effective people as suggested by Stephen R. Covey, writer of the famous book ‘ Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. For teachers, this habit translates into teaching in their classrooms with well defined learning outcomes that is expected from the students as a result of instruction. However, it is common to see teachers blindly following the textbooks or ‘teaching to the test’ without thinking through the learning objectives of the lesson. In this context, today’s micro-innovation focuses on the use of objective driven lesson for improved student learning.

Babul Uloom is a Madrassa school that has been taken over by 2 Teach For India Fellows. The school currently has a building but little else and is looking to grow. The community is mostly Muslim and the students are from some of the poorest neighbourhoods in East Delhi. The teachers are young and belong to the community. The school has faced some pressure in its endeavours as it tries to modernise education in the area.

Problem statement
Sajid, the headteacher at  Babul Uloom, believes that textbooks were limiting teachers and students to the material presented in the textbook alone and therefore resulted in a repetitive learning experience for the children. He was also concerned about the cost of textbooks for students and that they are very heavy for small children to carry around.

Micro-innovation description
Sajid now breaks the syllabus into learning objectives instead and teachers are free to be creative in the ways they meet those objectives. They are provided with access to training and, where possible, resources to do so. The teachers brainstorm ideas for teaching together and report back on their experiences using the different activities and techniques.

Why interesting
This micro-innovation recognises the effectiveness of ‘backward planning’ and acknowledges that learning starts with the teacher (and preferably the student) knowing the objectives of the lesson and then considering the best way to meet those objectives.

Potential implementation challenges
The micro-innovation requires teachers to have a full understanding of using lesson objectives effectively. There is some danger that the benefits of textbooks (providing structure and high standards) are lost if teachers are not well enough trained to set suitable objectives and develop activities to achieve these objectives.

Impact so far (according to teacher)
Sajid has been pleased by the extent that setting objectives requires teachers to think about their lessons and about exactly what they want their children to learn.

Download the implementation guide for Objectives, not Textbooks.  Let us know if your classroom teaching experience is any different by using objective driven approach for teaching children.

STIR Education

STIR Education

STIR is a UK based charity working in developing countries ( India and Africa) to improve quality of school education by working with teachers in the poorest schools in the region.

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2 Responses

  1. drsastry says:

    I fully agree with the article. Of course it worked well for more than 5 decades and made a good number of people as literates with numeracy and language skills.
    Today, the settings of world and need of education complete changed. The meaning of education is not to acquires certain set of skills to routinely repeat them, but to implement them and improve them.
    However change in system is not taking place. This text book based teaching and learning is making the young minds to be streamlined thinkers than critical/creative thinkers.
    But how to educated this educating world…starting from managements, administrators, teachers, parents…is a big question. Once all these stake holders in the field understand, everything changes. Innocent learners simply follow….

    • Dear Sir,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We’ve taken a little step towards making change happen, we hope that like-minded people join this community, and contribute to it, so that together we can make a big impact 🙂


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