School Education in India – In Need of a Revolution

From my years of experience in the field of education, I can tell you that it is not at all easy to change fixed mindsets. Schools go about their work in more or less the same manner in which they have been doing over the past decades. The only major change is addition of technological tools and aids which, in many cases, are reluctantly adopted by teachers. Other than this nothing much has changed. But everything else has changed so fast: children have become more aware owing to ready access to information; social norms, values and structures are changing rapidly, as are individual priorities and goals.

I believe that some of the current educational approaches adopted by teachers are causing greater harm to children than any good. These include: exposing children to too much competition, overemphasis on content-based learning, expectation of rigid compliance with teachers’ instructions, students’ passive participation in classroom proceedings, lack of personal and emotional engagement with the students, etc. .

I have been trying, over the past 13 years or so, to bring about whatever change I can in fixed and rigid mindsets. There are many others also doing likewise, and doing a much better job than me, if I may add. But the system is so rigid and unrelenting that there is generally very little progress!

The key for bringing about necessary change, I believe, rests in the hands of the parents of school going children. I have said this before and will say it again. Schools normally give what parents demand of them. Parents want good infrastructure, so schools provide it to attract more parents, and hence students. Parents want good marks and results in Board exams, so schools focus on giving this to them. On the flip side, most parents don’t care about what kind of values and morals schools are teaching and imbibing in their children, so schools also don’t take this seriously. Parents don’t bother (out of ignorance, more than anything else!) about what goes on in the classroom as long as they get ‘good’ marks, so schools don’t change the way they work. And thus, the vicious circle is complete!

The much needed revolution in our school education system will not come by new laws and government interventions. As always, it will come through the people on streets. Parents will have to first familiarize themselves with the basic tenets of meaningful education, and then begin demanding them of schools to deliver.

Parents cannot afford to be apathetic to the harm that some thoughtless classroom teaching-learning approaches and practices are causing their children. There is a bright new world of education that is fast taking shape in different parts of the world, but as always, we resist it with all the will and might we can muster! Why, and to what end?

Please spread the word around. Schools will change for the better if YOU demand that change!

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