Imagine walking into a place that feels gloomy and sad because you’re always told what to do, and you’re expected to follow all the rules since discipline, they say, is the greatest virtue in life.
And as soon as you walk out after years, you find out that you were led to believe a lie. Life outside of those four walls is something else and all those years you spent there did little to prepare you for the real showdown.
India’s education system has failed to evolve with time. We are mostly raising machines rather than deep thinkers or problem solvers. Spoon fed kids are still more common than self-aware, street smart kids. With the presence of some outliers, our education system has greatly failed much potential.
Also Read: Education Scoop: What is NEP2020?
Education Reassessed and Redefined
Covid has left us with an amazing opportunity to put things in perspective. We should remember that when it really came down to it- the society had intellects to rely on. Educated medical intellects, political fraternity & police personnel. Scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses, lawmakers & implementers. When it came down to an unprecedented situation, we looked for creative solutions rather than a textbook solution.
Traditional ways of educating are no longer relevant. Today’s education should foster tech savvy students. It should prepare students for the best that life has to offer. And the worst. Schools must prepare kids to take the most important decisions of their lives.
Education Post Covid- what should it look like?
A community. Where kids learn to share. To compete but in a healthy way. And if there isn’t a healthy way to compete with others, then they must learn to compete with themselves. Because there is no lesson more important than growth. If you’re better than who you were yesterday, then you are growing. And if you’re fostering someone else’s growth, that’s even better.
Enough theory. How do we make this a reality?
Let’s find out.
1. Watch how they talk... especially about themselves
Believe it or not, self talk is going to define the shape of their lives, their destiny. So, encourage compassion and empathy; discourage judgments and pessimism. Teachers unknowingly encourage some behaviors that end up gravely affecting some students’ personalities. So, teachers must be trained to look out for these titbits and curb them.
2. Switch how they sit
Organize classrooms in a way that doesn’t promote hierarchy.
Incorporate more circular sitting arrangement that is conversation-centric and encourages students to participate actively, learn from others and think freely.
3. Let ‘em play
Our schools heavily establish the concept of right answers v/s wrong answers. However, mostly there are no right answers. Sometimes, the glass is neither half empty nor half full. It’s both. Sometimes, the students can choose their own answers and make them right. Give them a chance to do so.
4. Call it questioning, not “answering back”
No question is stupid. The only stupid question is the one they don’t ask. Make school a place for innocent curiosity. For asking questions on the traditions, the norms. Question the way that things are, the way that they’ve been since long just because no one has dared to ask why. “Live with it” is a phrase for losers. Schools should raise go-getters who know what needs to be done and can find the means to do it. Following the status quo is not a fair play anymore.
5. Discriminate… but in the right way
Not using gender as a constant basis of segregation and role definition is essential. Encourage equity in the little things. Avoid emphasizing on the importance of doing household chores to girls only. Avoid putting only boys on the forefront when it comes to sports.
6. Personalize learning
Now understandably, every student cannot have a personal study plan. But let readers read more and leaders lead more. Let there be classes of preferred interests. Let them pick their subjects sooner.
7. Allow kids to enjoy getting educated more.
When they treat education as burden, that feeling is likely to translate into their work life when they start working. And if you think about the amount of time an individual spends in school and then at work, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Help them relish the present moment. Do not encourage students to live for the future.
8. Holidays are for fun. So should their holidays homework be.
“Holidays Homework” should not be a night terror for students. Let them look forward to it. Let it be less of a burden for parents and more of a look-forward to for kids. Let there be “WOW! I cannot wait to do my Holidays Homework.” And yes, it is possible.
9. Classes that translate into real life
“Pushing boundaries” should have been a Chapter in my Moral Science book. “Overcoming Fears 101: Walk away from your biggest fear today” would have been my favourite one. Personal Finance Management and Waste Management are just more examples of applicable concepts that should be more readily explored in school. Turning traditions into income-building commodities is a handy skill to acquire.
10. Appreciate the right things
Tell student there’s nothing called perfect. No perfect answer or perfect grade. Do not appreciate unhealthy competition. Evade from the superficiality of concepts and learning.
Appreciate the student who tried a little harder today than he did yesterday. Appreciate the one who stood up for someone when they were being bullied. Appreciate a mindful student who is always present in the moment. Appreciate an ingenious student who came up with an idea for a Startup they’ll start in 5 years.
The Indian School of Tomorrow
Schools don’t do the one thing that should be their primary task i.e. preparing kids for their future lives. Creating a growth mindset in students is the biggest asset that you can leave them with. The New Education Policy does provide a ray of hope. What’s worth seeing is if it will materialize or remain in the books much like many other policies.
A student at Cambridge International School beautifully pointed, “The pandemic has brought to surface many cracks that our outdated education system has. The biggest issue in today's schooling system is rote learning. A lot of emphasis is given on memorizing answers as opposed to deeply understanding a topic, leading to a lack of original thought.
Something that I would like to be introduced in schools is a group of counsellors who can give advice on concepts like careers, mental well being, sex education etc.”
Another one added, “Project/group study based learnings should be encouraged. This will enable to develop coordination skills amongst young minds. They can be given a large number of simple but interesting project topics to choose from. They must be taught to collect data and information, analyze them and make meaningful conclusions and attach references/bibliography acknowledging all sources of information used in the project work.”