Ask any lay person on the street about his opinion on the education system in the country today and you’ll get a completely nonchalant answer. In fact no two persons will come to a consensus on what ails the education system today, forget arriving at a solution to the problems faced in education.
What is studying? What standards need to be met by the education system? What are the achievements required? If you put these questions on education to 10 different education experts, what you will get are 10 different answers and theories!
Formal education is only to open up the mind and prepare a foundation for the future. Many of the subjects taught in the lower classes are meant to teach us about our Culture, History, Environment (Geography), Morals etc. This is in addition to Subjects like English, Regional language and National language Hindi., special languages like Sanskrit ,French and in some places even German may be taught. Whether the things we learn here are useful for our future, is a decision we are burdened with, when we reach the higher classes.
Learning is different from exams, tests or assessments. When I was a kid, about 20 odd years ago, I shifted schools almost every 5 years due to the vagaries of my dad’s occupation. One school taught me a syllabus based on the state it was situated in and concentrated on the convent style of education. The other three were based on the CBSE syllabus and promoted all round development. The higher secondary school I studied in was filled with high achievers and I felt a bit left out!
During my schooling and the years since then, there has been much tinkering with our education system. I no longer am familiar with the methods used to teach the present generation of ‘e-Kids’. It is very difficult to say whether old system was better or the present is better. Both have their limitations, advantages and disadvantages. Earlier system relied more on annual exams, which allowed for last minute mugging and sometimes brilliant students did not fare well due to illness or nervousness. The present system which is now being followed in CBSE Schools is based on continuous study and project work and continuous appraisals. The parents have to meet the teachers once in a quarter, when the teachers point out weaknesses if any. This makes both students and their parents alert. Motivation should come from the parents and nurturing from the teachers. Discipline has to be inculcated right from the beginning and parents themselves have be disciplined and should be role models to their children.
However, in many of the private colleges, which charge a high annual payment, the kids are made to struggle like work-horses, running from one activity to another. I agree that it is very important to identify the special gifts in children and give encouragement, but not at the cost of their care-free childhood! At the same time if there are any deficiencies they should be diagnosed in time and corrective action taken in time.
Children react to criticism in different ways; some may fall into depression and may even commit suicide; some take it as a challenge to shine to prove you wrong. Students have committed suicide even before they watched the Movie “3 Idiots”. I have watched the movie, and the message there is clear. It says Study for the sake of Knowledge and not for passing the exams This is exactly what my father taught me.
It also conveys to teachers and professors “Recognize the special talents and do not go only by the Rule book”. If only teachers had the say, where would Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford be today. The need of the day is basic knowledge as provided by our Indian schools coupled with western specialization and hands-on training. In this regard, that people are looking towards the – ‘doing method’ of education is really commendable and I hope the system is more acceptable in the immediate future.