Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cool School

Check this out. This is a topic that gets me thinking really hard and piques me enough to want to do something revolutionary about education and learning - at least in India. I have often wondered how wonderful it would be if children were to be able to find out - at as early an age as possible - what they are good at and what they would love doing their entire life. Not so easy except in the case of prodigies (which typically is related to music, dancing, computers, language etc). The paradox - in the context of Rashmi's post - is that you first need to know the various things that are possible to be able to find out what you are good at or what you would love doing! (Take for example this - you may have to go to 10 shops and see a lot of uninteresting things before you end up going to a shop that has exactly what you want!). And therefore it is the duty of parents, teachers and society in general to expose children to the whole gamut of possibilities and observe what attracts and appeals to them.

The challenge doesn't stop there. You then need to have the right environment and training to be able to encourage and develop that budding talent and passion. In order to lead a life that is not consistently unsettling, we do need to cover the basics of the worldly knowledge in school and learn how to learn a lot of other things if and when needed! Easier said than done because parents, having been brought up in a conventional manner, are not sure and confident of such an approach to life. I don't agree with the argument that we need to go through formal education in order to be labeled as an educated person. A truly educated person is one who has been exposed to multiple dimensions of life - emotional, spiritual et al. Schools focus on mental development closely followed by physical development (sports).

Anyway, lest I continue rambling forever....I'd like to also record what I hurriedly said in response to Rashmi's post...on her blog:

Thought-provoking! My 2 paise worth. I think the real question ought to be "How should schooling change in order to help us be what we want to be....anytime during our mortal journey?" People who have been considering this have been sending their kids to unconventional schools like the JK foundation etc. Having said that, I believe that quite a lot of the stuff we learn during primary school are essential irrespective of what we choose to do in life. So what if you're a singer....would you not want to use some basic school knowledge to figure out your financials, your relationships, your geography etc? I think only the sophisticated parts of math and science may not be of use for someone who gets into Arts. I think it is the post-school life that we really need to tweak. And we are bound to end up studying unwanted stuff in college if we are going down the wrong path (i.e we don't know what we want to do and therefore it doesn't matter whether we study commerce or science).

Where does this bring us to? For now, instead of rambling on....I think I'll safely conclude that

1. We need to help children identify what they want to do/what they are good at/what holds minimum promise for a decent future as early as possible
2. We need to realign schooling and education towards the above
3. We need enough options for schooling and education once we identify what we want to do
4. I agree with one of the above comments - We need to teach children how to learn so they can learn anything new anytime...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post! And I think you have a smart girl! :-)

Now, I am wondering whether there is research that compares and contrasts different methods of education and its results with a whole life-time as the time frame.


Prashant Sree said...

A post which occupies some of my thinking sometimes ;). As you said there is a need to enhance the process of learning and re-define what learning is. I feel here that Learning has been confined to acads/career sense, though i could make out this one as an exception.

"A truly educated person is one who has been exposed to multiple dimensions of life - emotional, spiritual et al."

One needs to be educated so as to have a broaden outlook.,. If we go about by saying we will educate childrens so that they have a good career, things not gonna change.One needs to know and live by set of principles which will guide him in his life.,. Empathy, Perseverance,hard work all comes not only by teaching them. They learn by observing the people around them.,. It has got to be a holistic approach.,. everyone needs to chip in.Parents,teachers, society,.,. The whole spectrum of human belief has to undergo a change,.,

The change will come.

Nimmy said...

I'd like to pick up two brilliant points from your argument, Prashant. They really appeal to me:

1. Learning must not focus on just a is rather about how to lead a good life! Great point!

2. Children learn by observing people around them! This is so important indeed! So, the learning environment is not just about what is taught in the class room and books! Learning calls for realignment of society as a whole!!

Thanks for providing some more food for thought! :)