Backward Children

Backward Children

Backward children or backwardness is defined by various psychologists, and some of the popular definitions are given below:

Barton Hall (1947)- Backwardness is general, is applied to cases where there educational attainment falls below the level of their natural abilities.

Schnoell (1948)- Backward pupil is one who, compared with other pupils of the same chronological age, shows marked educational deficiency.

Burt (1950)- A backward child is one who in mid-school career is unable to do the work of the class next below that, which is normal for his age.

Characteristics of Backward Children

  • Backward children are slow learners and they find it difficult to keep pace with the normal school work.
  • They are not able to attain what they should and their educational attainment falls below their natural abilities.
  • They fall far behind other children of their age in matter of study. Usually such children are seen to be remained in the same class for a number of years.
  • They might show failure in the academic field and show educational impoverishment.
  • We cannot call a child backward merely on the basis of his low I.Q. Therefore backward child should not be misunderstood and labelled as mentally retarded.
  • A child may be both dull and backward but he is not necessarily backward because he is dull.

Types of Backwardness

Backwardness is basically of two types:

  1. General– Such children are weak in all subjects of the school curriculum.
  2. Specific– Child suffering from specific backwardness lags behind in one or two specific subjects only and in other remaining subjects he may perform good or extraordinary.

Causes of Backwardness

Although it is difficult to list the causes of backwardness of child but usually many factors lie behind a particular case of backwardness. Roots of backwardness generally lie within a child or in the outside factors, like his environment.

Some of the factors of Backwardness are detailed as follows:

Physical or Physiological factors-

The physiological and physical situation of a child affects his educational attainment at every stage. Majority of educationally backward children suffer from some kind of physical retardation of lacks proper development. Sometimes they are born with poor health, lack of vitality and physical deformities or sometimes poor environment leads them to suffer from physical ailments, chronic diseases and bodily defects. Such conditions affects child and results into poor eyesight, faulty hearing, defective speech etc. Such health condition may deteriorate his health to such extent that he may be unable to devote adequate time and energy in their studies and as a result become educationally sub-normal and termed as backward.

Intellectual factors-

Intellectually inferior children are also seen to be educationally backward but this is not always true. Some children are born with brain having some inherent defects or with some intellectual sub-normality. Such intellectually inferior or mentally handicapped children cannot keep pace with the normal school curriculum and are found to be slow in learning.

Environmental factors-

All the factors above were innate factors or inherent factors of backwardness but apart from that, environmental factors such as home, neighbourhood and school atmosphere significantly influence the educational attainment of an individual. Some of these environmental factors are:

Home influences-

The parents, family relationships and home atmosphere have a direct relationship with the child’s educational attainment. A privileged family is able to provide best amenities and basic necessities of life are fulfilled, whereas a poor family lacks even basic necessities and their health suffers with malnutrition and unhygienic conditions, they may not get proper educational opportunities. All these deprivation impairs their capacity of learning.

Family relationships and the behaviour of family members also contribute to the child’s achievement. The problem in family relationship may create emotional and social problems.

School influences-

Unfavorable and inappropriate school environmental conditions also contribute to the problem of backwardness. Some of the factors that may affect the educational attainment of the children could be- ineffective, defective teaching, lack of equipment, facilities and co-curricular activities, etc. defective curriculum and examination system, lack of guidance or wrong choice of subjects by student, improper attitude of teacher and interpersonal relationships among the staff and students may also lead to disinterest of children in learning.

Influence of neighbourhood and other social agencies-

The social environment of a child also includes neighbourhood along with home and school. The neighbourhood where the child lives, his peer group, the members of the society he comes in contact with, all these contribute to the problem of educational sub-normality.

Therefore, a child’s interest, attitude, habit of work and study, thought and reasoning processes, observation power, understanding, all these get affected by the kind and nature of environment in which he lives and gradually he attains what his environment allows him to attain.

Education of Backward Children

Backward children suffer from mental, emotional and social problems. Apart from this, a defective intelligence and inherited physical characteristics, this is the result of maladjustment and maltreatment.

Therefore, backward children need proper care and special attention. Wastage and stagnation of human resources and increase in the number of problem children should be checked.

Diagnosis of the cause of Backwardness-

Before planning for the education of backward children, it is important to diagnose the probable causes of a child’s backwardness. It can be done in following ways:

  • Assessment tests and attainment tests may be used to assess the extent and nature of backwardness of child in specific subjects.
  • The intellectual level of the backward child can be assessed by any standard test of intelligence.
  • Other psychological tests can be used to assess child’s special abilities.
  • Situational tests and observation tests can be performed to analyse the child’s overall behaviour and his behaviour in particular situation and his emotional qualities, social relationships and temperamental traits should be observed.
  • A complete physical and medical examination should be done to examine the physical and physiological condition of the backward child.
  • Socio-economic status of the child’s family, their living conditions, education of parents, relationship within family, his friend circle, etc. should also be carefully observed.
  • The school environment including curriculum, methods of teaching, facilities available for co-curricular activities and student-teacher interaction should be carefully analysed.

Educational guidance / Treatment of Backwardness

After the probable cause of backwardness is diagnosed, efforts should be made to help the child to get rid of his backwardness. The treatment of backwardness lies completely in its nature and extent as well as the causes of backwardness. Since, every case is different, different method is applied to different child. Some of the points have proven to be helpful in planning educational programmes as a remedial step for the backward children, they are as follows:

  • Regular medical checkup and necessary treatment- Regular medical checkup should be done in cases where cause of backwardness is due to physical defects and ill-health and accordingly necessary treatment should be given. The school authorities should cooperate with parents in correct treatment.
  • Readjustment in the home and the school- When backwardness is caused as a result of environmental factors, child should be helped to readjust in the home as well as at school. These children should be properly understood, their emotional insecurity should be helped with tender love, affection and security. Proper counselling is given to parents for proper handling of the child.
  • Provision of special schools or special classes– Provision of special schools or special classes is also an effective remedial step. In such schools, trained teachers are there to help the child with their specific needs.
  • Special curriculum, methods of teaching and special teachers- The children suffering from acute backwardness should have a special curriculum, special methods of teaching and trained teachers at their school.
  • Special coaching and proper individual attention- After the weakness of child is being identified through proper diagnostic tests in various subjects, special coaching and proper individual attention may be given in form of drill, practice, repetition, explanation etc.
  • Checking truancy and non-attendance- In some cases the cause of backwardness is due to irregular attendance, truancy or long absence from school. Such cases should be diagnosed and proper steps should be taken to remove them.
  • Provision of co-curricular activities, diversified course- In some cases cause of backwardness is lack of interest in the school studies. Therefore, adequate provision co-curricular activities, rich experiences should be given and diversified courses should be provided so that he gets the opportunity of doing the activity that he likes.
  • Rendering guidance services- Lack of guidance in making proper choices for selection of courses leads to disinterest of child in studies and it is considered to be one of the contributing factors of backwardness.
  • Maintenance of progress card- There should be a proper and regular maintenance of record of student. It can be maintained by keeping record of their progress in form of cumulative record cards and progress charts. This helps in tracking the attainment level and rate of progress of the child.
  • Controlling negative environmental factors- Negative environment of the child should be removed or reduced after diagnosing whether its school, home or his peer group.
  • Involving educational psychologists- Services of experiences educational psychologist might also be helpful in planning of the education of backward children.

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