This reflection is straight from my heart. It has been there with me for a long time and I find it difficult to get a clear and conclusive answer. I know education is a very complex affair today with too many stakeholders. But the question is pestering me all the more now when I see so many things that are not a sign of an educated society and a nation. Are we in Indian schools teachers or educators?
What if the biggest problem in education we face is one that we have not even identified? That the structures in our society have pinholed us into such conformity that we have limited the infinite potential of our minds? The old mindset of high and low, rich and poor, majority and minority, man and woman is haunting us today. Humanness is almost died of. We see everything through the prism of such narrow-minded vision. Why are the people who break the mould and change the world the rare few? Hasn't our education a role in this?
When I think of our education I feel sad that we could not teach our children to think of the universe as one family. We failed to educate our kids to grow in maturity. We failed to make our kids who grew as leaders with a human heart. We failed in teaching our students to love our families and society. We failed to tell them that corruption is a cancer to our society.
I see the so-called educated person spewing venom on the Television almost every day. Our responsible leaders are blatantly threatening and warning millions to cease to exist as citizens anywhere! We see the so-called educated ones either engaged in brutal killings or supporting and justifying the perpetrators of vicious crimes...! We see honour killings and violence against couples who love by breaking the barriers of caste or religion. And we call ourselves educated...!!
I see also a mad rush for making more money through any means. No concern for others in such people. Educated officers indulging corruption is a blotch on our education itself.
Educated boys and girls marry and soon seek divorce for silly reasons. They fail to face even minor difficulties today. Many so-called graduates do not want to adjust and lead a realistic life. Family values are eroded, as are the Constitutional values of our nation! Lip service and rooftop loose talks are not a sign of a cultured civilisation.
We failed to teach our kids the realities of human life. We have seen 'well educated' people like MBAs and Engineers only worried about themselves. We need comforts, but we also must learn to cope up with certain inconveniences in life. Life is not a bed of roses always. Pain and sufferings, hardships and crunch of money etc. must be understood as part of one's life. Sickness and health are part of human existence.
Very often we see our education creates "intellectual monsters" than people who are empathetic to the marginalised. The atrocities that are happening all around are not alone by uneducated or illiterate.
Diversity and variety are natural. We must accept them. Unity is not uniformity. As Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's travels depicts, at some time one feels so great in one place and in another place he may realise that he is too small. This has to be understood. Learning to live together is education. But today one can doubt whether this purpose of education is there at all!
When schools are vying for better results, when parents look for only marks, when teachers fail to be role models, when earning takes over learning, when blind religious beliefs overtake human reasoning, education is the victim. It fails miserably to make a mature person for the society and nation.
Our problem is our fixed mindsets. Mindset is important, and we must change our mindsets to alter the way we approach the world. Our system is creating mere conformists. Our system is limiting our ability to identify glaring problems that we can overcome. Our system is denying the fundamental human right of allowing every person to reach their full potential. The solution lies in a change of mindset.
Good education creates a new mindset that promotes ingenuity, passion, and personal relationship. It requires thinking outside of the established norms. Thinking out of the box is a must. Education must help all to develop it. It is the way that we will be able to identify problems and formulate solutions. This type of mindset depends on risk-taking because that is the way that one can truly live out his or her passion without being deterred by discouragement or doubt, discrimination or division.
A person with a progressive mindset necessarily experiences failure. The problem is that our society fears and despises failure. We are told from a young age to avoid it at all costs. Many teach their kids to be number one!
What if we used failure to invigorate our passion? We must change our mindsets to internalize the importance of striving to fulfil our passion through failure. Failure is the foundation for a renewed motivation to pursue one's passion, even in the face of adversity. We must teach our kids to face failure too. Education is wholesome. It cannot be onesided.
The rhetoric of "mindset shifts" and "principle-based education" cannot remain lofty idealism. We need to overhaul today's outdated education structures that suppress imagination, accept conformity and averageness and ill-equip children and adolescents to deal with the world's complicated injustices. Replace this model with systems that cultivate imagination, originality of thought, critical reflection, boldness and empathy. Starting from the earliest stages of formal education, students need to explore instead of memorizing, question instead of assuming, and innovate instead of inheriting. Empathy and reflection will allow students to develop interpersonal relationships and community, and grow in solidarity with diverse groups of people.
Students need to think with and for others, and feel with and for others, and this requires that students experience radical exposure to people and realities far removed from their immediate spheres. Facts and figures can be learned by any student who is driven by a desire to create, solve, and imagine. Emphasis on originality and imagination will drive students to innovate, push boundaries, and seek unique, creative solutions to world problems, while boldness and the drive to innovate will inspire future leaders and empowered problem-solvers to never quit in the pursuit of creating a just, stable, and principled world.
By reforming the education system to cultivate a new mindset, students will gain a more nuanced understanding of their individual learning styles and preferred disciplines. To supplement the development of imagination, innovation and empathy, individualized education will ensure that every student learns in the manner most conducive to his or her development (MI). For those familiar with Howard Gardner's revolutionary notion of "Multiple Intelligences," which says "nobody is useless, perhaps USED LESS". All people possess one or several of the following intellectual learning styles: visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical-rhythmic, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, existential and spiritual. We need to appeal to this. School systems in today's society promote "mass education," by which students are expected to learn approximately the same information at approximately the same rate to pass approximately the same standardized tests so that they can each get approximately the same level job and make approximately the same amount of change in the world! Our education must stress on human beings, being human!
We, educators, teachers, policymakers, parents, students, writers, thinkers, media.....all must think for a changed mindset in our students. We must teach them to be Competent, Conscious, Compassionate and Committed. Education must transform individuals and society. Otherwise, 'Vasudaiva kutumbakam', oneness of all human beings, will remain a slogan like many of the falsehood we hear all around.
It is time for an education that helps all to change the mind-set or attitude. It is a collective responsibility of all those who look for a better world for future generations. Otherwise, we will perish as fools sooner than later...! Remember this Earth is our Home...!! It is also the home for the unborn future generations...!!! Educate our children to have an attitudinal change.(Published on 14th October 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 42)