One of the most profound statements that we hear especially from the Educationists the world over refers to “Education” as the most powerful means of empowerment. In simple words, it should mean that an individual after getting educated, is in a position to lead a meaningful and productive life, and is fully equipped to face and indeed, solve all challenges that life brings. It therefore presupposes that “Education” a person goes through during the formative years of his life, has a strong connect with real-life situations and that he acquires necessary skills to handle them.
We all know that this is far from the truth. The paradigm of education currently is structured only to score marks, prepare for competitions and is essentially directed towards facilitating better livelihood. Let us objectively examine the possibility of bringing in certain specific interventions and changes that will make “Education” more meaningful.
1. The syllabus for all classes is too large and unwieldy. It has lot of width and by the time you move on to the last chapter, the earlier ones have been forgotten. So what is important is the depth on the subject and not the width. Shorter and meaningful content would ensure better assimilation and encourage critical thinking. The syllabus should be structured in such a way that it has pace, progression and challenge.
2. We need to move a filter over the content in all subjects and discard the peripheral and inessential components. This would require some application but is worth the effort. The content should be relatable to real-life challenges and culturally relevant.
3. Every school must carry out a comprehensive exercise in curriculum progression and alignment so that subject-specific content, moves from one class to the next in a seamless manner. A detailed exercise in curriculum mapping should be undertaken and to ensure that it becomes outcome driven.
4. While teaching and all associated pedagogical practices must focus on learning as the primary focus, a parallel assessment protocol must be put in place to ensure that learning is, indeed happening. Our neural system is structured to be a trifle repetitive to store information for a longer duration. Hence revision of what is being taught and learnt is strongly recommended.
5. As mentioned earlier, every subject has a strong symbiotic relationship with real life situations. Integrating that aspect should be an essential part of the content and pedagogy.
6. The teachers in the present context must act as facilitators, guiding students for concept clarity and analytical thinking. Information and data is available aplenty on digital platforms and is easily accessible. Teachers must build up their own high order thinking and analytical skills to create right perspective for their wards.
7. Strong learning happens only by doing. Lectures and discussions on the topics should, wherever feasible be followed by project work related to the subject. Teachers need to innovate. Project-based learning is gaining greater relevance.
8. The coursebook writers and publishers also need to do some research with a view to incorporate real life connect at the end of each chapter. It will then become easy to remember and co-relate all the learning with real-life situations. Students will not easily forget that.
9. The future of the world is largely driven by a combination of knowledge plus skills. Technology will continue to be a powerful tool for achieving tasks with greater precision and efficiency, but problem-solving skills will have to become an integral part of the education process.
10. The most important component of education will necessarily fall within the domain of Socio-Emotional learning. People will have to learn to be kind, compassionate, sensible and sensitive to one another, to society, environment and to the world at large. Without this, the entire education edifice of great intellectual or scholastic content will become meaningless.
11. We also need to develop suitable Algorithms with the help of Data Analytics and Artificial intelligence to determine effective pedagogies, student learning and identify areas of improvement.
12. Education is becoming trans-disciplinary. Study of science and arts need not be in separate streams. Both complement each other for creating a paradigm of holistic education. For instance, Music is not limited to be a hobby which is just an add-on. It can be the basis of a fulfilling life-long profession, and also help a student in understanding principles of science and mathematics. (Some of the greatest scientists in the history have been great musicians. Artists and painters understood, maths, geometry, dimensions and astronomy as good, or even better than mathematicians and astronomers.) There is no reason why these can’t be started at the school level.
13. It is quite evident that education is not complete unless it is supported by a sound and a structured curriculum for extra-curricular activities.
14. It is also not advisable to overemphasise the relevance and importance of soft skills. These must necessarily become an integral part of the holistic and wholesome education. Soft skills can be learned, imbibed and practised at an early stage of one’s life. Later in life, it is a bit too hard to learn them, leave alone practice them.
15. We are all equal, but we are all different. Our upbringing, our cultural ethos, sensitivity, habits, span of attention, and all other factors that have an important bearing on learning are vastly different. We need to consciously start working on creating differentiated curriculum to address the needs of individual students. The concept of “One size fit all” in the context of education is an anachronism.
It is time to revisit and redefine EDUCATION so that it becomes more relevant, relatable and user-friendly.