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.)


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