New Teaching Manifesto

Education is Learning By Doing!

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

   The New Teaching Manifesto a scalable template to quickly implement Multiple Intelligences and Bloom’s Taxonomy in the classroom. It is a framework for improving critical thinking and creativity in schools.  It hopes to reform an education system based on textbooks that tell us how things should ideally work but does not let us try it out until the ‘student is ready for it’or for fear of failure or a need for seeking perfection before getting started! The NTM aims to change this by encouraging students to think critically about the challenges we face today by exposing them to real-life, real world challenges for a comprehensive, well-rounded understanding of our world based on multiple perspectives and literally crate and build solutions to check their understanding.

All the education imparted through the NTM can be personalized and contextualized in such a way that the students discover their own self through the activities they do, the things they build, through their interaction with other students, with their parents and family members and the community. All of these enriching experiences based on observation or imitation would be accounted for in their grades and assessment or at least an individual project portfolio to begin with.

Bernard Shaw once said, “If you teach a man anything, he will never learn.”  Thus the Manifesto aims to create an inside out educational experience. It believes that unless one has figured out oneself, there is no way of meaningfully understanding the world around us and how it works and the best way of doing so is by actually building or creating things. Therefore, the students are given a free hand to try out the task as soon as they feel they are ready provided they have committed themselves to complete the project.

Failure by default is considered as a part of the learning process and is used as a personality development strategy that discourages ‘mavericks’ and encourages collaboration.

Perfection is not sought out nor is the concept of getting it all right. But a high value is attached to systematic self-assessment and evaluation of what went wrong where, when, how and why. This leads to a brainstorming on the next steps and a plan on how to move things forward and complete or better the project.

The NTM uses a two-tiered structure to transform the current education setting in a school-

·         Learning To Do      -By Observing An Expert
·         Learning By Doing  -By Trial and Error

Thus the NTM is a not just a document. It is reflective of a framework of how our education was actually meant to be! It serves to act as a guiding light for educators and policy makers to engage and motivate a generation brought up on the Internet.

Part 1- Learning To Do

Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes
—John Dewey

Aim- Learning By Benefitting from the expertise of your community

Identify a few passionate professionals from your community who are contributing towards making your community better in their own small way.

Background preparation for the presentation by the teacher

*      Go over the textbook. This needs to be done at least 24 hours prior to the talk so that the students are ready with their questions.
*      Read the main Wikipedia article (even better if you find a better article, check Wikipedia related links)
*      If the topic is complex, divide the class in groups and let them focus on a sub-domain and let the expert do the rest

Criteria for expert’s presentation-

*      Each of the experts should relate their expertise to the textbook, expand it and look at it from various points of views. For eg- baking can be linked to food or benefits of microorganisms fungi (yeast). Policeman can explain about law and order and how citizen’s can assist the maintenance of law and order.
*      Each expert should be encouraged to give some actionable information to the students that they can try out instantly or at home. For eg- the baker can give an easy recipe for home-made bread. The policeman can teach students how to file an FIR.
*      Presentations can be carried out either on Friday afternoon or on Saturday morning so the students get a chance to visit the place or get enough time at home to try out at home.
*      The presentation should last a maximum of 40 minutes and should be followed by a detailed question and answer session for another half an hour. Students should be encouraged to ask questions. They will, if the presentation is interesting enough!
*      The teacher or expert can give assignments or projects to the students on the same topic as a follow up activity which may involve visit the place of work be it a bakery or a police station a jail etc.

 Domain-Wise Samples of What Experts Can Present

We cannot create observers by saying ‘‘observe,’’ but by giving them the power and the means for this observation. And these means are procured through education of the senses.
-Maria Montessori.
The Manifesto proposes the following ideas-
1)     Baker- explains the baking process and its ecosystem| His daily routine-  when he wakes up, when he finishes his job, where and how he sources materials |their family life| A small demonstration| Invite to visit a bakery | Readymade Instructions to bake home-made bread using yeast
2)    Firemen- talks about his work- the dangers of fire |types of extinguishers | their family life| what happens during a fire emergency| a fire drill demonstration |Importance of safety | Invite to the fire station
3)    Policemen- explains about his profession and the importance of law and order|How the police perceive society and how people perceive them| why people don’t trust them| their family life| Process of Filing an FIR | explains the basics of the law |working hours |treatment of prisoners in jails| the process of investigating crime| Invite to the police station
4)    Banker- explains the role of banking| calculation of money and interest rate| the concepts of lending and borrowing and their role in creating businesses and entrepreneurs|plastic money| e-commerce and internet money transactions| their family life|Invite to the bank
5)    Organic farmer- difference between organic and regular farming|nutrition value and taste of organic produce| Effects of nutrition on health |How to grow vegetables in your backyard |basics of composting| Tips for a school kitchen garden| Invite to a farm | Tasting an organic fruit vs a regular fruit| | their family life
6)    Doctor/Nurse-  Importance of health and hygiene|types of illnesses in the area and how to prevent them| Invite to a hospital| How to administer CPR | Importance of First Aid | How to put together a First Aid Kit | The importance of blood donation and knowing our blood group | Family life|
7)    Lawyer/Judge- Citizen’s rights and responsibilities|Filing an FIR | out of court settlements, negotiation and compromise| Civil and Criminal Cases | Class-Action Suits|  Family life|
8)    Mayor/ Municipal official- Roles and responsibility|Describe where water comes from how it is supplied| keeping the city clean |current waste management practices| treatment of beggars and mentally ill| Family life|
9)    Successful entrepreneur- How to start a business|Characteristics of an entrepreneur| Characteristics of a customer| how to raise funds|Invite to their company| Family life| How to market a product | Tips on how to raise funds for a school project|
10)   Social Worker- Role of a social worker in society|Value of volunteering |importance of community service| how can kids participate| social problems and how to overcome them|how criminals are born| Invite to their NGO| Family life |

How To Invite An Expert

1.     Give preference to inviting a parent as an expert.
2.    Compose a formal letter from the school and ask for an appointment from the expert.
3.    Show the letter to the person and agree on the date and time.
4.    The teacher can appoint the best students to invite guests on behalf of the school (develop leadership potential)
5.    Give experts the topics to cover so that they have enough preparation time.
6.    A minimum of a week’s notice needs to be given.

Part II –Learning by Doing

The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation.
—Pearl S. Buck

Aim- Building and Creating For Self – Transformation and turning the school into a hub of local innovation through community collaboration.

1)      Build A Nature Lab- Creating or Enhancing the botony, zoology and geology labs by collecting and systematically classifying locally available samples of leaves, insects, ants, flowers, stones & pebbles, seeds, bones bird feathers, varieties of grasses etc

2)       Create/maintain and learn from a kitchen garden-

The guy taught me how to be a good organic gardener and to compost. He grew everything to perfection. I never had better food in my life. That’s when I began to appreciate organic fruits and vegetables.”- Steve Jobs in Walter Issacsson’s biography
Understanding the basics of organic farming- Masanobu Fukuoka’s book ‘One Straw Revolution’ can serve as initial inspiration.

3)      Understand Government and Democracy by creating one at school- Hold an election for the school parliament | Design flyers | Publish candidate and party manifesto | Participate in a democratic electoral process | Hold debates etc (Instead of teaching democracy and government). Check out this TED video by Diana Laufenberg, 2010

4)      Maintain a School blog - (More Coming Soon)

5)      Edit a Wikipedia article- (More Coming Soon)

6)      DIY System Tinkering lab setup

               Websites for reference-

*      Squishy Circuits- Make conducting home made dough and use it as a basic electrical circuit. Engg 101

*      Arvind Gupta- Making simple educational toys for teaching with easily available materials. Link To TED Video .  Teaching aids, models & props to teach students made from trash - Science Toys from trash

*      Kiran Bir Sethi- Achieving better school results by inspiring students about social change. Link To TED Video

*      Adafruit- Do It Yourself (DIY) electrical and electronics education kits 

7)      Design a Social Awareness campaign -
Take a local Environmental issue like pollution, a Social issue like speaking out against child labour,  take a stand against buying things made with child labour and against alcohol and drug abuse, Design street play or a skit, or a mime, raise funds for educating poor kids etc

8)      Create a solar photo voltaic/solar thermal setup/ installation - (More Coming Soon)

9)      Create a Rain Water Harvesting System- (More Coming Soon)

10)  Mid-day meals programme run and maintained solely by children-

This includes everything from buying groceries, cutting vegetables, and cleaning their own plates. Children should also be encouraged to maintain the accounts and even raise funds if required. The actual process needs to be supervised by the teacher until the responsibility is delegated to students who the teacher is sure have understood the process.

How To Accomplish Learning By Doing?

*      Select one project, get information from the internet and brainstorm on how it can be done.
*      Create a systematic, step by step  plan of execution
*      Learn the art of decision making, problem solving, brainstorming- use flow charts, mind maps

       Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand - Chinese proverb

 This document is for everyone.

*   If you believe you deserved a better education but didn’t get one because it was too expensive you can volunteer your services as an expert.
*  If you are a parent you can encourage your kid to learn by doing and building self-confidence instead of focusing only on grades and degrees.
*   If you are a student you can take leadership to promote the NTM in your school, collaborate with friends and spread the word on the internet.

As you might have noticed already, The New Teaching Manifesto is a work in progress and your ideas are always welcome. Write to me at I appreciate criticism as long as a small part of the New Teaching Manifesto is actually tried out.

Upcoming Changes- 
  • An entire new section on teacher training including lesson plans
  • Video links for Part 1 and Part 2
  • Updates based on user reviews and recommendations

The New Teaching Manifesto is released under a Creative Commons License. You are free to use it as long as you acknowledge the source as ‘The New Teaching Manifesto’.


    Amber Light said...

    What about teachers themselves? I think students must know how rewarding teaching can be and how it should not be a fallback career option. Teachers should also be included in your list of experts. Also, politics and politicians are an extremely ill-/mis-understood lot. Students would benefit learning about the democratic process from listening them as well.

    I really appreciate your manifesto and it should see the light of day. However I feel that this is not inclusive. There are several issues and problems in today's education system that cannot be addressed with just the points you make. Do you intend to include an answer to these issues in your manifesto?

    Chetan Pinto said...

    Please check the updated version and give me your comments

    Amber Light said...

    Dear Chetan,

    Your effort is much appreciated. I believe that if this NTM is implemented, it would be a great addition over our existing system.

    Does a method of examination fit in with your manifesto? What is the criteria to test if the student has benefited from activities? Though I do wish that testing be eliminated from a student's life, it is important for these checks to be in place for the health of the system itself.

    How does the teacher check if all students participate in activities equally?

    Who checks the teacher? Sometimes teachers lack motivation to do something creative/demanding. Sometimes, teachers would be tempted to cheat on the job by modifying the activity to make it easier on them to carry it out. Because, let us face it, teachers are an overly burdened lot. One solution would be to make it a fixed format type of learning by doing activity. But then again this would affect the creative space of students. This might require some extra thought.

    What about rural and poor schools where all the necessary resources that are required are not available or achievable?

    Do you have an opportunity to test your NTM somewhere? Do share results and learnings.

    Good luck!

    Chetan Pinto said...

    I wish I had a magic wand that could slove all these issues :-) I'm not sure the NTM will be able to cater to all problems. I'm not sure I alone can. I need help.

    You could start by sharing your good/bad learning experiences on my blog if you wish. BTW NTM has moved to Do check out the posts!

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