Sitting through classes for seven to eight hours has never been easy for any student. Despite the short and long breaks, some students are caught yawning in class or asked not to slouch over the desk or rock their chairs.

The posture of a student in class could have a bearing on the classroom transaction and the learning that happens, say experts.

P.C. Selvarani, principal, S.B.O.A. School and Junior College, says students should feel comfortable in order to be able to pay attention in class. “The desk and chair should be comfortable for students. Even those sitting in the last rows should be able to read what is on the blackboard.”

It is better for students in higher classes to be provided with a desk and chair to themselves, she says. “If there are two, three students on the same desk, they might get distracted. Moreover, they use long notebooks and record note books which occupy a lot of space on the desk. So, a separate desk will be helpful,” Ms. Selvarani says.

With more and more schools opting for “smart classrooms” where educational DVDs that seek to supplement textbook content are played on monitors in the classroom, the manner in which classroom space gets used has also changed.

“Excuse for high fee”

“I find my son's classroom unnecessarily hi-tech. These additional facilities become excuses to charge higher fees. The classroom seems cluttered and there is hardly any space for the children to move about or walk up to the teacher in case they have doubts,” says C. Sharadha, parent of a student in the primary section of a matriculation school.

There are also some teachers who believe that a classroom should not be a rigid space, but allows some flexibility. “Some of our children prefer squatting on the floor. In fact, the design of our ABL classrooms is such that children sit on the floor in small groups,” says a teacher with a Government Primary School in the southern suburbs of Chennai.

Pointing to his preference, S. Gopal, a class VIII student going to a government aided school in T.Nagar, says: “I can write faster when I sit on the floor because that is how I study at home.”

Role of teachers

Doctors say it is important for teachers to observe if the child is comfortable in class, for children in the lower classes may not know what their problem is. “Children may not be able to read what is on the board. They may have short sight and not know about it,” says Sujatha Sridharan, professor of paediatrics, Institute of Social Paediatrics, Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital.

Emphasising the need for children to feel comfortable, she adds: “Considering that they spend long hours in the school, it is very important that sit in a place and posture that they are comfortable in.”

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012