CONCERNS OF SCHOOL EDUCATION
A lot of discussion amongst all walks of society concerns the comparison of one school with the other. The list extends across educational board, school type- residential school or nonresidential school, type of medium- homeschooling or conventional schooling, learning type- self-directed learning (SDL), project-based learning (PBL), experiential learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, synchronous/asynchronous learning and so on. The list is endless and these comparisons act as tools that could be used to facilitate learning and have their own utility. We may choose what we are comfortable with. However, what we miss in most of these discussions is the primary purpose of school education. Education at all levels evolves continuously as does everything else e.g., modes of transportation, business, governance, etc.
Having said this, we try here to provide a thought to what school education should be like in the current scenario.
GOALS OF SCHOOL EDUCATION
The goals of school education have been enumerated by great thinkers like Sir Bertrand Russel, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, and many others. Additionally, our constitution also lays down a policy that is reviewed periodically. Every school also comes up with a mission statement and vision statement.
With all these available sources and relevant thoughts worth pursuing, in practice, these goals generally boil down to:
- Preparing for admission to college
- Social conduct in society
- Some direction in choosing a career
- Identification of individual’s inherent strengths
- Encouraging curiosity and creativity in areas of interest
- Scope for innovation
- Encouraging adaptability to unforeseen situations
- Decision making
Almost all schools address category ‘A’ goals to quite an extent. While only lip service is paid to category ‘B’ goals.
A little thought will suffice to show that the missing focus on Category ‘B’ goals if duly recognized, shall automatically take care of Category ‘A’ goals.
PROMINENT FACTORS WHICH NEED TO BE ADDRESSED
While addressing the importance and associated achievement of category ‘B’ goals, as listed above, there few additional factors that need to be considered. Some of these include:
It is true that the environment we live in continuously evolves and has always been subject to changes. We have passed from one age to another all the time, only the rate of change kept increasing with each passage of time. Adaptability to different circumstances is the key virtue for survival that rarely gets the importance it deserves. The effect of experiments tried in school would only be realized after a couple of decades. Unfortunately, systematic validation to monitor the effects of these experiments is very difficult and is rarely done.
Identification of inherent strengths
Individuals have their inherent strengths and weaknesses and by and large very few even make an attempt to identify them. Generally, people who engage in activities (work) that they enjoy leading a happy life. At the end, happiness is what really matters.
A lot of introspection and exposure to various fields is required to identify one’s own strengths and weaknesses. It matters little as to which school a person goes to. Here, I am not aware of any case studies carried out to identify inherent strengths in school and evaluate their impact on performance in future life. It may be worth carrying out some case studies in this direction.
Identification of redundant and fresh skills with the passage of time
The progress of mankind through the ages makes some survival skills redundant and the development of some new skills is a natural phenomenon. About a century ago, the transition was slow and the change during one’s life span was hardly perceptible. However, since the development of the Satellites and Integrated Circuits (IC’s) the developments have been so fast that many skills for survival become redundant and are replaced with new skills within a decade.
The satellites have overcome the conventional hurdle in communication caused by the lack of technology. Now the whole universe has become a microcosm with the accessibility of all places with the speed of light. The microminiaturization of switches with the development of IC’s has resulted in eliminating the effort needed for searching and storing information and solutions. In these evolving circumstances, the need to identify the problem one needs to solve has become paramount.
SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT
All schools provide:
- An environment to associate with others so that one learns to survive in society.
- Learn the three R’s, Reading Writing and Arithmetic.
- Some exposure to Sports and Extra- Curricular activities.
- Develop Competence by preparing for some examination
While keeping the above intact, it may be possible to:
- Encourage children to introspect, identify their concerns and work on satisfying them
- Expose them to a wide variety of professions by giving them opportunities to interact with people from different walks of life
- Encourage them to learn and innovate in an area of their choice.
- Encourage them to identify their strengths by giving an opportunity to choose what they like to do and provide them opportunities to excel in them.
A sincere effort to address the food for thought may go a long way in achieving the Category ‘B’ goals, as listed above.