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Every Challenge is an Opportunity. It’s time to CARE: Raghav Podar, Chairman, Podar Education

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Raghav Podar

Schools are preparing students for jobs and industries that don’t exist yet. Today’s children will be solving problems that we don’t know are problems yet, by using technologies that haven’t even been invented yet. While schools have been busy figuring out how to prepare students for this uncertain future, the unpredictable future has already dawned upon us, and how!

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has been thrown off all normalcy. All those meticulously planned arrangements for our students’ learning journeys have been obliterated and we are all compelled to confront that uncertain future we once sagaciously fore told. While schools emphasized the need of developing 21st century skills in their students, there has never been a more opportune time in our lives for schools to walk the talk!

Like in any major storm, trees that don’t have strong roots and are built on weak foundations fall and face grisly deaths. Institutions are no different. Institutions with strong roots, solid foundations and robust systems emerge out of onslaughts even stronger, as long as they continue to C.A.R.E.

While there are many important 21st century skills, the ones that are need of the hour are:

Critical Thinking: We live in an era of information bombardment; from the time we wake up till our eyes shut at night – and for some of you, even during your sleep, the incessant beeping of pointless notifications and forwards consume our day. It is critical that schools play their roles prudently as mentors and guides to the thousands of parents and community members that look up to them. School Heads must display critical thinking themselves; educate students and even more so their parents, how to consume and spread news through this information barrage. The ability to critically analyse, verify and then take informed, smart decisions to propagate that piece of information or trash it, is crucial in today’s sensitive times.

Adaptability: The one characteristic that has stood out in successful schools across eras is their ability to adapt to change. While the world is routinely changing at a rapid rate, learning adaptability to that fast pace of change was expected as commonplace. Blitzkriegs like the COVID-19 virus hit us out of nowhere, and unless schools are nimble on their feet to re-assemble and re-program their meticulous plans, they stand the risk of becoming another casualty, falling by the wayside. Many successful schools have already started teaching their lessons through Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), adapting agilely as the path unfolds in front of them.

Resilience: Schools that have managed to implement Critical Thinking and Adaptability would have certainly faced failures along the way. If they succumbed to their failures on the road to their goals, they wouldn’t live to tell their story. The institutions that took failure in their stride, realising that failure is just a stepping stone to success, and it teaches you far more than success ever can, are the ones that became the islands of excellence, floating on vast oceans of mediocrity. The ability to display resilience to our students, and truly imbibe it ourselves is what makes great institutions stand the tests of time.

Empathy: Thankfully unlike most other industries, schools are not about competition, but about collaboration! Successful schools must take it upon themselves to help weak, disadvantaged schools. How can a school expect its children to imbibe empathy when it chooses to gloat about its achievements, but doesn’t stop and help its neighbourhood underprivileged school rise from its difficulties? These are difficult times for one and all, my plea to all successful schools – stretch out your hand and help lift disadvantaged schools out from the dust.

Make sure both of you wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before and after 🙂

Stay safe; stay positive. To all my brethren of the school fraternity, we have overcome many challenges, and this mountain too shall we overcome.

The roughest seas maketh the best captains!

(Raghav Podar, Chairman, Podar Education)

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