Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The future of education

Putting thought to it

Education, in its broadest meaning, refers to the process of training, refining and growing someone’s mind and intellect. It assumes that the mind still has empty space ready to be filled, and that someone (the trainer or the educationist) has something of worth to be imparted.

Claude M. Bristol said prophetically – “Thought is the original source of all wealth, all success, all material gain, all great discoveries and inventions, and of all achievement”.

This sums up what the purpose of education should ideally be. It points towards the components that educators should build into their processes and curriculum. And above all, it contains the promise of prosperity for the learner – a quintessential need if one is to really move beyond rote learning and its associated depredation. But it poses a challenge too – the difficult task of freeing minds to have the courage to think free thoughts.

Of course, the mind is the spiritual or metaphysical manifestation of the more mundane physical brain, which leads our modern society to easily categorise people using their IQ levels. And this dichotomy between the mind and the brain is neatly visible in the chaos of modern education, where the most educated can be seen indulging in acts most well-reserved for the uncouth and uncivilized.

Well, as far as the future of education is concerned, I feel it is here already. It will be obvious and apparent only to those willing to shed their cobwebs of legacy which blind, and chains of stale knowledge that corrode.

Shockers galore

Some months ago, while watching an episode of the Amitabh Bachchan led KBC, I was shocked to see a participant with a proper Bachelors in Computer Application (BCA) degree unable to answer the question “What does (dot)com in a website’s name refer to?” This person must have spent 3 full years attending a government approved degree college, replete with a Ph.D. professor as the Principal, and several other highly qualified individuals as faculty. And at the end of it, she cannot even begin to contemplate what (dot)com refers to. Her excuse “I never used the internet in my BCA course” makes the situation worse, and points to the core of our education system’s redundancy – outdated mindsets miraculously pretending to cope with challenges of today’s world. I further shuddered at the prospect, suggested by someone, that maybe the Principal himself may not have known the answer! Perhaps we educators really need to appreciate, in a changing world, what Mark Twain said - “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” 

The golden rules