Sunday, 28 December 2014

The New School...

I've been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Yes, it's a never before and never will be opportunity,

What is it, you ask?

I get to revamp, or redesign the old school system in India, straight from the base.

Being a teacher, I'm being asked to redesign the entire academic build-up being followed in our country...

Well, I wouldn't want to take on such a magnanimous task all by myself, would I?

So, I've turned this into a collaborative post. So, I am not the only one authoring this.

My blogger - friends and team mates at Project 365 are there with me too... :)

I will get to my idea of what needs to be redone in our academic structure, towards the end of the post.

First, I am handing over this space to Salesh, Yamini and Rekha...

Salesh Dipak Fernando, who blogs at 'Scribblings', has the following to say:

"I was a special kid when I started out and hence needed individual attention. Every child is different. You can’t ask a fish to climb a tree. It would be absurd and stupid. Tweak the education system. Let be an environment where a child can nurture his unique abilities. Give the child the freedom to choose. Do away with the herd mentality."
I agree.

It reminds me of this:

Also, Albert Einstein.

Our education system lacks, and lacks a lot on this front. We need to focus on the concept of 'inclusive education', and not just focus. Serious and feasible implementations need to be enforced, so that the children with special needs are treated as equals, in every sense of the word.

I'm again reminded of this:

And, the concept behind this, lies in the sense of fairness, and its interpretation by the masses...

This thought comes to mind, and resonates through...


Yamini Vijendran, who blogs at 'Straight From The Heart', had this to opine:

"I would like schools that would provide only the tools, and encourage children to explore and gain knowledge by themselves. The teachers will only give a push whenever needed, in the right direction. You should also take a look at this and other talks by Sugata Mitra. Read about his 'Hole in the Wall' experiment - It'll change the way one perceives education."

Again, the concept of rote-learning and minimal practical exploration on the academic front, vexes me too.

The pressure of memorization, rather than learning and understanding the concept, must be done away with. Students must be able to inculcate a solid ground for exploration, and explanation of a concept by expression, within themselves.

Calvin comes to the rescue...

He knew the answer. But he also knew what's more important for him in the long run...

'I now intend to forget it forever...'

The system needs to be revamped so that our kids don't need to memorize, so that they may forget.

The system needs to be revamped so that our kids understand, and take it with them, forever.

The knowledge being imparted amid those four closed walls needs to be such that it is of appreciable importance in every day life-like situations.

Another gem, again from Calvin:

I'm not saying that rote must be completely done away with, but that it must not be of prime importance.

Well, you do need integers to form the basis of your Mathematics, but yes, the 'Big Picture' needs to be taken into account too, big time. :)

Pardon me for taking too many references of such kind but, the one which follows, must certainly NOT be the case!

This one goes out to the teacher, rather than the learner, too... :)

Then again, Mr. Sugata Mitra, Chief Scientist, Emeritus at NIIT, Winner of TED Prize 2013, had this to say, about his concept.

"Onstage at TED2013, Sugata Mitra makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other — using resources and mentoring from the cloud."

For the ones who don't know of the Hole  In The Wall experiment, this is it.

"In 1999, the Hole in the Wall (HIW) experiment in children's learning, was first conducted. In the initial experiment, a computer was placed in a kiosk in a wall in a slum at Kalkaji, Delhi and children were allowed to use it freely.

The experiment aimed at proving that children could be taught by computers very easily without any formal training. Mitra termed this Minimally Invasive Education (MIE). The experiment has since been repeated in many places; HIW has more than 23 kiosks in rural India. In 2004 the experiment was carried out in Cambodia.

This work demonstrated that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are, can learn to use computers and the Internet on their own with public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds, even without knowing English. Mitra's publication was judged the best open access publication in the world for 2005 and he was awarded the Dewang Mehta Award for innovation in IT that year.

The Hole in the Wall experiment left a mark on popular culture. Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup read about Mitra's experiment and was inspired to write his debut novel Q & A, which later became the movie Slumdog Millionaire."


Rekha Nair Dhyani who blogs at 'Dew Drops', stated this:

"I had the good fortune of working with Sugata Mitra on his book in this Hole In The Wall experiment. It was indeed a breakthrough experiment. Touch and Feel, Do and Learn."


Coming to my point of view, in this regard...

Education needs a fresh perspective, especially primary education. This is the stage when a kid’s foundation is being built. This is the stage when maximum learning can be adapted by a child. Instead of going for digital education at a later stage, I would prefer students to incorporate e-learning right from the first standard. 

This is because e-learning is the most interactive means, apart from group activities in today's time. Interactions pave the way for better retention of concepts in a fresh mind, thus minimizing rote - learning. 

There has been an instance when the move to implement smart classrooms was more than welcome by Charu and  her peers, in her school. The only regret she had, was that such an initiative should have been taken when they had entered school, at the age of six, rather than when they were to exit it, on the threshold of writing their Senior Secondary Board Examination. 

Skills and knowledge for a subject must be given equal importance. The practical, hands-on, application part of the theory being retained, must also to be revamped in a constructive manner, so as to benefit the learner in the long run.


I would like to know your opinion in this regard too, either as a Parent, as a Student, or even as a Teacher. :)


This post is a part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least one post a day based on the day's prompt.

December is the month when I officially Guest Author for Project 365, in partnership with Jaibala and Vinay, for our respective Guest Authoring Prompts, chosen beforehand.

The Prompt is, The New School - 'You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?'

This is my Twenty Fourth Post as a guest author to Project 365 : We Post Daily!

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