Classrooms And Our Misconceptions About Learning
“Why do we go to school and college?”
Whenever you ask someone this question, you will get a sudden reply:
Seriously? I don’t think so. I believe we all go to school, or rather our parents send us to school, because everyone else is going to school and a formal education is required for getting a job.
Now, I have a second question.
“How do we learn things in school?”
A sudden reply will come for this one also.
“We have teachers in school teach us new things.”
No. That’s ridiculous. Now, If I say teachers are not meant for teaching us, but they should be guiding the students to learn own their own, you will ask,
“Now who is sounding ridiculous?”
We have an education system, especially here in India, that is so focused on teachers rather than students. I agree that we have produced a number of great teachers and we place them with our parents and the God, as in the saying “Matha Pitha Guru Daivam”. But, back then, when we had a very few written textbooks and the textbooks even if they existed were very hard to possess, teachers were the only source for gaining new knowledge. Even though this has changed a lot and we have a lot of technology that enable us to gain knowledge on the go, we still stick onto that old Gurukula concept and forces the students to believe that teacher is the ultimate source of knowledge.
You may ask what is wrong with that. We all had those one or two great teachers who inspired us to learn more. So, what is the harm in placing a teacher at the center of an educational system?
I won’t disagree now. But, just think about all those teachers who were so bad at their job, who made some of you hate a particular subject forever? What about that.
I want to make sure that I am not writing all this to disrespect anyone. In fact, I really appreciate all the teachers for doing what they do. Teaching is a noble profession. But, all the teachers we have now, have come through this same educational system that made them replicas of their teachers. There are few exceptions, but a majority of them have become mere clones. So, what do these teachers do? They try their level best, knowingly or unknowingly, to make their students replicas of themselves. I am not just speaking about those students who will become teachers in the future, i am speaking about all of them.
So, what is the solution? We need an education system which is student-centric. Teachers must be willing to guide the students to unravel and learn new knowledge than providing them with capsuled notes and solved problems. Teaching should change from the old and outdated single-threaded system to a much diverse multi-threaded system where the requirements of all the students are taken into consideration and satisfied.
Disruptive Learning is a great substitute for the conventional learning system. But, how to implement disruption in the current educational system that will eventually benefit the student community is yet to be researched and developed. I am not suggesting to replace the entire teaching system. That will be a total disaster. But, there are a lot of students who need special care. Ignoring them is the greatest mistake we can commit.
So, first step is to identify the students who are non-consumers( i am borrowing this technical term from disruptive innovation theory) of the current educational system. Next step is to understand their difficulties with the current system and requirements to be met. Finally, devise and implement activities that can cater to their needs, without going out of the current system.
For example, consider a government primary school in any of our villages. Installing smart classrooms in such a school will be a wastage of money if students as well as teachers are unable to use the system effectively. Also, deciding to implement computer aided learning for all subjects on a full-fledged basis will result in chaos only. As an alternative, computers and smart classrooms can be initially used to provide soft skill training to students. This way, they will get used to the machines and at the same time, parents and teachers won’t have any difficulty in managing the learning process. Once the students get handy with the machines, teachers and parents will get convinced about the usefulness of the system and they will be happy to implement it for the main stream learning.
I know I haven’t covered all the related aspects in length. Even though I have met a lot of students, I still don’t have the teaching experience in a conventional educational system to judge it or to change it. Please share your valuable viewpoints and questions on this topic and let us make this a fruitful discussion. Have a nice day.