Monthly Archives: July 2015

Thoughts on Learning: Part 5

“When we speak of learning, is Individual Achievement our benchmark of success and if so, should it be?”

One aspect which I find troubling is the focus on “Individual Achievement”. Can companies be built single handedly? Can cricket / football matches be won single handedly? Can societies be advanced single handedly? Nope. We know that and yet we always seem to emphasise individual achievement. Students compete against each other to get to 1st Rank. In everything.

Is there not an inherent message we are giving to students in this process? “Dont care about your friend. You study well. You succeed”. End of story. Right? So, our education system is primed to serve the Capitalistic Economy. We say we are democratic but we dont even teach all principles equally to kids. We dont tell them early on that there are many ways of running a system and Capitalism is just one. We are inherently breeding “Social Disparity”.

I am not saying that Socialism is better or Communism is but that these principles have to be treated on par at least in early stage education. For all the argument that one can give that Socialism failed, one can always argue on the other side that Capitalism forcibly made Socialistic economies collapse for their own benefit. Lets not decide that.

I am concerned because of what happens to the not so previleged students. Every decision we make is “To ensure that the high performers are not inhibited from achieving the heights they can”. Who cares for those who are not doing so well? This seems to me as a classic case of “Sub-Optimization”. We try to “Optimize” the road for the “Geniuses” and hope that they would benefit the society at large later through their inventions etc. I am sure that happens to some extent. Many of the medicines / vaccines the geniuses developed has helped us big time. There are lots more. I only mention medicine since that is probably the biggest change in the last 100 – 200 yrs that has largely impacted societies in a beneficial manner by reducing / eliminating diseases. All else comes later.

My point is this. If we were to also include some “Team based” assessments even at school level, would it not be great? An inherent message will go out saying that true success is when you can also take people along. I think it is also beneficial for the “Toppers” on a life level. I am sure there are many Individual Achievers who end up being Lonely creatures, not knowing how to connect personally / co-operate well in a work place and overall work together to create a better society. We would hopefully not have a society with such large disparities. It would be more peaceful and safe.

(I dont feel I have done enough justice / made my points fully in this aspect as yet. Will follow this up in another post later. Do weigh in.)


Thoughts on Learning: Part 4

Learning happens in 4 stages

  1. Inspiration
  2. Curiosity
  3. Exploration
  4. Realization

Do we see any of these happening in our schools? I guess not. So, what do I wish? Here’s the list

  1. We would do great to have a chain of Museums across the country on all things, Science, History, Language etc.
  2. Kids from schools get to go to these Museums as part of curriculum once in 3 months. We can cycle the exhibits across the various museums so that kids can see new things each time
  3. Classes in school to let kids get creative on what they can fathom about how the things they saw in museum relate to their life. Possibly even uses they can imagine of stuff they saw / experienced there
  4. Small kits (not expensive but well designed) in their hands starting as early as class 4 to explore, experiment with / create stuff and find out how things work. Guidance by teacher would be great
  5. Kids get to take kits home and show to parents what they did. Who knows? They may also end up creating new stuff.
  6. Follow up sessions / exhibitions in school to share what they created (could have even been a poem, a drawing, an instrument to measure time in new units, whatever.. ) with others
  7. Discussions in class based on exhibitions and key learnings

Did you notice the 4 stages in the wish list? 😉

Great to imagine. Can it work? If we cant even imagine, what can we get to work? Been very inspired by Shri Arvind Gupta ( lately and this idea has been simmering for a while. Comments welcome.

As this conversation in “The Matrix” goes

Neo: I know Kung Fu

Morpheus: Show me.

(and then the cool gravity defying fight … )

I believe that we can claim to know stuff only when we can discuss about it freely / demonstrate it / teach it to others. Kids I hope will be able to do these better if only they went through stuff in the wish list. Thats the right assessment of knowledge.

What do I propose? This thing above is the real need of the hour in the Indian Education System. Can we work out for-profit, not-for-profit organisations, etc that can fulfill this need?