One volume with five subjects for classes I to V, and two volumes for classes VI, VII and VIII
For students like Mythili G., the new textbook under the trimester pattern which compiles all relevant chapters from various subjects into two comprehensive volumes, is a welcome relief.
“I come by bus from Kannagi Nagar, and earlier, since the bag was really heavy, even those seated would refuse to hold it. Since there are just two textbooks now and a few notebooks, I carry a smaller bag, and travelling has become much easier,” said the student of Chennai High School on V.P. Koil Street in Mylapore.
For many who commute by public transport, travelling has become much lighter this academic year. While students of classes I to V have just one volume with five subjects, students of classes VI, VII and VIII have two volumes — one for languages, i.e., Tamil and English, and another for Maths, Science, and Social Studies.
And that's just one of the many plus points. Rishitha M., a class V student at a city school, said that even though the textbook had all the five subjects, landing at the right page was easy because each section had colour-coded margins with references.
Vibha Dhoka, a class VII student said that she now packed a crayon box in her schoolbag and drew in her free time. Another student, Sharon Y.P, said her mother who kept a tab on her studies had to take a look at just one textbook now.
But there is also a downside to it. both upsides and downsides, Malavika S., a student of class VIII, said, “On the one hand, you don't have to look into the time-table each day and my school bag has become much lighter. But I have to carry an additional book as the language textbook has only English and Tamil, and my second language is Hindi. The spine of the book is not strong enough to hold the pages together, and if you forget to bring that one book, you don't have a textbook for an entire day,” she said.
Though accepting of the new system, Sangeetha R., who teaches students of class III, IV and V at a city school, is apprehensive about how her young students will maintain the textbook for a whole term.
“Since there is just one textbook, the students have to use it all day, and in some books, the pages are already showing signs of wear and tear,” she said.
She is also anxious about the distribution of the chapters over the trimesters. “Last year we had a total of seven poems and seven prose lessons for class V, and we covered three poems and three lessons in the first term as it is the longest. This year, the first trimester's textbook has only two poems and two lessons, and we are not sure how the rest of the portion will be distributed,” she said.
Though teachers say that it is too early to assess the trimester method, where students will be assessed through Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation and will not have to study the year's portions for the annual exam, students seem to have taken a liking to it.
“Forty marks are allotted for project work, slip tests, and activities and the theory paper is for 60 marks, as opposed to the usual 100 marks. This has made learning stress-free, interactive, and creatively challenging,” said M. Rajesh, a class VI student.