NIC lesson on learning: Tod-Fod-Jod

What makes a watch tick? How does the fan swirl? Why does the computer mouse move the way it does? The answers are all there in the textbooks but are seldom comprehended by most students because learning in schools has became more about cramming than grasping. The National Innovation Council hopes to remedy this with its rather aptly named Tod-Fod-Jod lessons.

Tod-Fod-Jod roughly translates to Deconstruct, Reconstruct and Repurpose, and in the NIC scheme of things it means curious school children ripping apart household devices — toasters, irons, fans, refrigerators, water filters, sewing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators and tubewells — and, in the process, deconstructing the scientific jargon that is usually learnt by rote. The aim is 'to build a nation of creators and not just consumers of products'.

"The idea is to inspire children to experiment, participate in hands-on-activity and see for themselves how a simple equipment actually operates. This helps kids link it with what they are studying. The Tod Fod-Jod concept targets school students in the fifth to eighth class and is eliciting quite a response. The NIC only facilitates it. Industry donates the devices and teachers are trained through videos made by experts. We only act as catalysts," NIC chairman Sam Pitroda told The Indian Express.

The "Jod" implies more than reconstructing a device, the NIC said, it means inspiring true creativity. When a child in a slum understood how a printer worked, for instance, he was excited, explained Samir Mitra, head, National Innovation Clusters. But then reality dawned: it won't be much use in the power-starved slum. That didn't discourage him though and soon enough he came up with the idea of using solar power.

"That is where the NIC steps in. We are facilitating solar-powered connectivity in the slum to ensure the printer does work. So while Tod-Fod-Jod works largely as a no-cost project, where we can assist in taking some innovative practices forward, we will," Mitra said.

The pilot programme for Tod-Fod-Jod is on in Vadodara and New Delhi. There have been 12-odd sessions so far, but the project is generating interest: Karnataka, for one, wants the NIC to conduct Tod-Fod-Jod lessons in all its schools.

The assessment of Tod-Fod-Jod so far has shown it spurs much excitement and curiosity in children, more so in those from the lower and mid-income families. The lessons include a week or two of constant questioning about the device the students studied to find out if they are able to establish connections between concepts and applications. The catch now is to find teachers who can facilitate this new learning process, instead of promoting rote, as well as to rope in bright students as mentors.

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