November 27, 2020

Mediocrity In Our Education System: A Field To Ponder

I remember my school days when, we were imparted education so as to become responsible citizens who would take into account everything.Our teachers used to impart and follow things as they were conveyed. I followed all the instructions given by my teachers and parents, to pursue my dream to get a suitable place in the society. I have realized how much this whole education system lacks a process to explain concepts and doubts. In Jammu & Kashmir, schools have taken on a much bigger role in educating children not only out of necessity but also due to lack of support from home, particularly in remote areas because we realize that social and emotional well-being is deeply intertwined with academic success. However our education system still hasn’t realized that the success of the students and their well-being is more than the just some grades. Still students are facing enormous pressure to give up their own dreams and follow the dreams which are decided by the society. Either be an engineer or a doctor or a new trend is now emerge to try luck in Civil Services which needs storehouse of knowledge. In my opinion our teachers bring unconventional techniques in their teaching. The one who will go out of their comfort zone to take care of all the possible scenarios never fails in giving students what they desire for. What great lectures and contents can never provide is a friendly relationship and caring. I don’t necessarily define caring and relationship as it is shown in the movies, but rather someone who recognizes that their job is to create opportunity for students to not only learn content but also to pursue and find their passions. Taking into account these circumstances in mind we need teachers through whom we can promote conceptualized learning over our conventional learning of rote memorization of everything without even understanding the concept. We need an education curriculum which teaches us to understand the different “laws” and “theorem” by practical examples. We need teachers who not only care about students but also care for students. Most of the teachers are just focusing on getting their curriculum done but trends have to be changed. Teachers have to be more involved with the students. We now have to shift our focus to more on listening & understanding the students and connect with them on personal level. We need our education system to expose teachers to go beyond learning challenges. They need to be comfortable with a greater commitment to be caring for children and it’s time that we consider this for the welfare of the students and for the betterment of education system as well as the society.
Our education system is still more theoretical and less practical, geared towards generating just pass-outs and pen-pushers under the newly acquired skin of modernity. We may have the most number of graduates adding numbers to our literacy rate, but that certainly has not translated into much technological innovation.

• Focus on skilled based education: Our education system is geared towards teaching and testing knowledge at every level as opposed to teaching skills. “Give a man a fish and you feed him one day, teach him how to catch fishes and you feed him for lifetime”. Knowledge is largely forgotten after the semester is over. Still year after year our system made students to focus on cramming information.

• Reward Creativity and Innovation: Our education system rarely rewards what deserves highest academic accolades. Deviance is discouraged. Risk taking is mocked. Our testing and marking systems need to be built to recognize creativity, problem solving, research and innovation. Memorizing is not learning. The biggest flaw in our education system is perhaps that it incentivizes memorizing above creativity and innovation.

• Implement technological infra for education: We need to embrace internet and technology if we have to teach all of our population, the majority of which is located in remote villages. Now that we have computers and internet, it makes sense to invest in technological infrastructure that will make access to knowledge easier than ever. We need to create educational delivery mechanism that can actually take the wealth of human knowledge to the masses. The tools for this dissemination will be cheap smart phones, tablets and computers with internet connection, while all these are becoming more possible than ever before, there is lot of innovation yet to take place in this space.

• Take mediocrity out of the system: Our Education system today encourages mediocrity- in students, in teachers, throughout the system. It is easy to survive as a mediocre student or as a mediocre teacher in an educational institution. No one shuts down a mediocre college or mediocre school. Hard work is always tough; the path to excellence is fraught with difficulties. Mediocrity is comfortable. Our education system will remain sub-par or mediocre until we make it clear that it is not okay to be mediocre. If we want excellence, mediocrity cannot be tolerated.

• Personalize education- one size does not fit all: Our education system is built on the presumption that if something is good for one kid, it is good for all kids. Some children learn faster, some are comparatively slow. If one massive monolithic education system has to provide education to everyone, then there is no option but to assume that one size fits all (which is totally wrong). If however we can effectively decentralize education and obsessively control what would be the syllabus and what will be the method of instruction, there could be an explosion of new and innovative courses geared towards serving very niches of learners.
( The author is a teacher @ Department of School Education. Views are his own) [email protected]

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