Wednesday, December 31, 2008

HS FAQ: Problems with school

Your question:
Frankly I don’t see any problem with the modern educational system. This seems to be a figment of your fevered imagination. And if the whole world is standing looking one way and you are looking in the opposite, aren’t you then, in the language of the modern schooling system, a bit of a ‘psychiatric case’? Or in other words- plain mad?

My answer:
Look friend lets set the rules of this dialog. Ok? I am trying to say many new things here and I would really appreciate it if you don’t call me mad-wad till you hear me out. Its just that you will be able to listen to me better that’s all. (Actually I am a bit of a ‘psychiatric case’ you know and so I am slightly over-sensitive about being called it :-))

Haan, so here is an incomplete list of the problems of the modern educational system:
  1. It only lays emphasis on increasing your knowledge. And the knowledge that it gives you is of no use in your adult lives. No use in your work and no use in your home. A proof of this is that all employers have always complained that the youth coming out of schools or colleges are completely unemployable. They need to be again trained for a job for six months to a year.
  2. The school environment practically kills all the natural curiosity and creativity inside a small child. Don’t believe me but listen to what Albert Einstein says. He is supposed to have said- It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry: for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of FREEDOM
  3. Children of different learning styles and different mental levels have to study together in the same class in school. The slow children are left behind and the quicker ones get bored. In short nobody is benefited.
  4. The modern educational system focuses on the physical world and completely ignores other vital areas like the moral and spiritual. Shouldn’t the way to live your life well also be an important part of the curriculum of any good educational system? If this is so, you will have to agree with me that our current system is a miserable failure.
  5. So if this is the overall school experience then it doesn’t seem to make sense to give 6 hours x 240 days x 12 years = 3000 days = 17000 hours of our precious ‘childhood’ unthinkingly to a school.
This list is incomplete. But let me stop here and call on stage the experts themselves to have the last word. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome- National Council Of Educational Research and Training or NCERT. The Government of India created this agency in 1961 to help in the spread of education throughout our country and they have been doing a great job since then. This government agency recently created a stunning document on current education called the ‘National Curriculum Framework (2005)’ and you can download it from NCERT’s website and take a look at it. Lets listen to what this document has to say in its serious-type tone in the very first chapter.

Further, there is a deep disquiet about several aspects of our educational practice:
(a) The school system is characterized by an inflexibility that makes it resistant to change;
(b) Learning has become an isolated activity, which does not encourage children to link knowledge to their lives in any organic or vital way;
(c) Schools promote a regime of thought that discourages creative thinking and insights;
(d) What is presented and transmitted in the name of learning in schools bypasses vital dimensions of the human capacity to create new knowledge;
(e) The ‘future’ of the child has taken center stage to the near exclusion of the child’s ‘present’, which is detrimental to the well-being of the child as well as the society and nation.

…Haan, so you heard no? What more can I add? So, like most people you too have had no idea till now of the huge problems of the current school system? I can only say that it is probably because this system has a position amongst the gods in your mind and you have known only how to bow down your head unthinkingly in front of it but not to question it.

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