A Classroom for Learning: Part-II: The Curved Tunnel

Welcome back to the Part-II of my blog-post trilogy: “A Classroom for Learning.” In Part-I (The Fundamental Questions) of this series, I discussed regarding the concept of learning and our education system. I present to you the second instalment in this series, titled “The Curved Tunnel.

Part-II: The Curved Tunnel

If you have to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers. They are society’s heroes.   

                                                                                                                                                                        -Guy Kawasaki

What is/are the most distinct memory(s) you have about your favourite teacher(s)?

Take a moment to answer this question (possibly write down your answer!).

He was enthusiastic, energetic and he would draw beautiful detailed diagrams (biology) before he began his lessons. He used to take time in explaining and used various tones (often dramatic). He made up stories and conversations about cells and organs and often threw in interesting facts during the lessons.

(Just to remind you that at that time digital education was limited to computer classrooms only)

We all have come across at least one such teacher in our lives, or fortunately enough some of us are still learning with them. It is astonishing how some of the teachers mark an impression that defines a student’s life. However, situation has corrosively deformed over last few decades. Teaching and learning is becoming more and more complex every day. Globalisation has taken its toll and education has become one of the most profitable business. Moreover, education reform remains the least priority of the central and state governments, even if unintentional. Amidst all these chaos, the students suffer irreparable loss.

When I talk about these persisting problems, I do not address to one particular segment of society. Rather this problem is ubiquitous. It is more prevalent in rural areas and in government run schools. While private schools in urban and rural areas are also not meeting the requisite standards. Apart from everything else, the growth v. proficiency debate hasn’t been addressed at large yet. Although it seems that we have inadvertently inculcated the proficiency principles in our system.

Even the good intentions and budget allocation for education by governments are failing to effectively reform the system. The dire situation of education system has been beautifully explored in this post. Unskilled educated workforce is contributing to the ever stretching unemployment pool. The problem seems fixable if right training with right education is provided.

This brings us to the fundamental question what are we doing wrong? Our educators follow the tried and tested methods of teaching. It has been passed on from one generation of educators to the next. On the other hand, we have not considered the variables that have changed. Media, Internet and smart-phones are integral parts of today’s lifestyle. This has impacted the students in both good and bad ways. It gives them a lot of opportunities to learn from various other sources but it also exposes them to distracting elements. Some may even argue that students have lower retention and attention span due to these unaccounted factors.

Nonetheless, the classroom has not evolved in many ways. While we may fiddle around with ‘what’ to teach, it is necessary ‘how’ to learn. Running to the end of the course and finishing the syllabus is not worth a penny if the students are not able to imbibe the lessons. The focus of the classroom is often restricted to the few better students, who know the lesson beforehand and are able to actively participate. While, other students are left behind, feeling distressed. Eventually they lose confidence and stop receiving the lessons effectively. The teachers and the parents worry about these students in the parent-teacher meet, forgetting that the problem is not with the students. Somehow, we are giving full blown training to Virat Kohli to become a chess-grandmaster and expecting Vishwanathan Anand to score a century.

Therefore, everything comes down to the learning that happens in the classroom. The chords are in the hands of the teachers in the classrooms. Turn-to-page-56-and-read-from-top approach may help a few but not all. The element of fun is almost always missing from the classrooms. Teaching is a serious matter and therefore teachers aren’t allowed to have fun. Students are compelled to become robots. The fact that the subjects like arts, physical education, and moral education do not get equal or even proportionate weightage in curriculum, which is saddening. Subjects other than Maths, Science and Computers are not focus-point of majority of schools. Subjects like economics and law aren’t part of full syllabus.  Rather we are filling up the content in the syllabus without significant improvement in learning.

It’s like the driver of a train is driving blind in a curved tunnel, not knowing what to expect next, but following the standard procedure to keep safe. On one hand it seems logical (given the safety issue) on the other it’s just not sustainable anymore. We need to think beyond the tunnel.

In the Third and final instalment of my post, I will discuss how we can change ‘what needs to be changed’ in our learning process… in the post titled: The Next Station.

Until then, Keep Learning.

Disclaimer: This blog or any post thereof shall not be considered to be in any way associated with the official stand of ExcelArts Foundation on any issue which is discussed in the above blog-post. The opinions in the above article are author’s own opinion and shall not be considered as an advice or suggestion by or on behalf of ExcelArts Foundation.

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