It has taken hundreds of years for man to uncover all the knowledge he has at his disposal today. The knowledge thus discovered transformed our lives and the face of the planet we live on. In the beginning the stream of knowledge flowed slowly and steadily seeping in every drop for the betterment of mankind till it got divorced from its altruistic goals and the intrinsic values that ensure a healthy and a well bred society. In the hands of self serving individuals and nations it was reduced to a tool of gaining power, exploitation of weaker sections and causing a wedge in the society .
Development is a phenomena that happens when our experience is transformed into learning and learning becomes a tool of bringing about the required change. Things were not as we see them today or what our children see .
It has taken years of toil, perspiration,perseverance and life time of dedication to arrive at the pinnacle where we find ourselves today.
In the beginning the pace of development and knowledge in hand were in perfect balance and harmony existed between the two.
But proliferation of information minus the wisdom to use it for the welfare of mankind created a situation which today threatens the very existence of the planet .
Under these changed circumstances when abundance of information is coming like an assault on the young generation who are in a disarray not knowing how to handle it , the aim of education is no more feeding information but developing wisdom , an insight to filter information , prioritizing the goals and giving life meaning not just rushing through it . This is what I mean by development . It’s not just cognitive aspect but the in cognitive part that include the ability to grasp the abstract and develops intuitive side enabling them to take risk , venture into the unknown , think independently , assert ones point of view and , challenge what they find amiss , question their superiors and stand up against the wrong doings .
The educators have to nudge the conscientious of the students to enable them to grow into thinking beings and not aping monkeys.
In these times of utter commercialism every thing has been reduced to a product entailing a price which becomes the status symbol . We as teachers have a great responsibility to wean our children away from being lured by these false but enticing propositions in every field of life because even after so much depletion of value system in society teachers command a high measure of respect and credibility from the children . So far the experience says ,’ Guru of yesteryears ‘ is still alive in our ecosystem of values . Let’s not get it muted by sheer neglect and dereliction thinking ‘why should I ?’
Education is the most powerful tool of development through change. But we must decide the direction of that change. For which we have to look inward and not outward. As on today we are always looking westward for any change and the result is a big blow.
Unless we understand and map our requirements ingeniously we cannot have a system which would work well . On the name of holistic development we have schools fleecing parents of their hard earned money but without any relevant development.There can’t be any holistic development inside a/ c rooms. You need to observe nature and interpret and connect it to life. For this you need to get out of your cozy classrooms, take a sojourn of real life and then connect to the information fed in the books .
Growth and development are two faces of the same coin .One side tells you the growth and other tells the development.Both need pruning else they would grow in a most unwanted direction marring the whole process.This work of nurturing and pruning is done by the education and educators.
All the knowledge that we see around us originally came from within.The question arises, If real knowledge comes from within what kind of knowledge is imparted in schools ? Well it is acquired knowledge.
If you just acquire something and are not able to use it then it turns into junk. The schools today have become the storehouses of knowledge and teachers the dispensers of it. And students, the unwilling receivers who don’t know what to do with it . Experience is the first step in the journey of education . One would say how can you make them experience all that is entailed in the textbooks.
Experience is the key to learning. It is being done at two levels.
One the prior knowledge which is the result of child’s old experiences and learning. Second the new knowledge about to be unfolded through a series of experiments conducted in class by the teacher and experiences undergone by the students so as to make learning a natural process rather simply transmit it in the form of words,meaning, phrases, statements which the child is unable to comprehend in the absence of a real life connection to it. First hand real life experience can unfold and open many windows simultaneously integrating the knowledge and making it an enduring experience .
Let’s take an example : – if you are teaching a child about’ energy ‘ – the topic should be exposed beginning with a general view and understanding of it by a common man or a layman we can say before coming to the definition.These can be such as, energy is required to make things move. To move this chair I use some energy. The fan above our head is running on electric energy. A car needs fuel to get energy. We need food to get energy. This will bring out that there are different sources of energy which the students are aware of.
This knowledge should be used to bring about the new knowledge which is definition of energy , how is energy measured , nature of energy , different types of energy and other details . This will help ignite the imagination of students about energy and they will get interested in understanding the topic in detail . Thus experience acts as a glue to connect the the new knowledge and make it more holistic and enduring .
Let’s take an example of Math . Mathematics is an abstract subject where symbols and signs are used to denote a concept . If the children are taught these concepts straight with numbers and their operations they will be intimidated by the subject and develop a phobia because they are not able to comprehend anything about these numbers which are just incomprehensible scribbling for them . So the best thing is to begin with language first which the child has acquired naturally . The concept of number should be preceded by counting of objects with hands on experience till they can associate the symbol with the objects . Similarly other operations should be first executed via an activity trying to bring out the concept behind them . The important part of the activity is ,it should be brought to its logical conclusion that is relating it to the concept else the whole activity will get lost as any other action taking place in life . This experience takes place in two ways . One as it happens in day to day life and second how this experience can be captured in the form of words , sentences and symbols through practice .
Same goes with other subjects like environmental Studies. When we use words , phrases and sentences to bring out the concept before the actual experience it makes it complicated and incomprehensible to the child but the same thing when goes through an experience than those words , phrases and sentences assume a body and become comprehensible . For example – while teaching about plants first thing to do is to take them to a garden or a place with different type of vegetation and observe . Just taking them to the garden is not enough . Important thing is to drive home the point you want them to know . For this you have to transfer their experience into words , phrases and sentences best understood by them .
If these simple steps are followed in a structured manner the child will be able make sense of the whole process and then understand the same as explained in words . So experience is the key to learning .
Having taught for more than thirty years, at sixty one it’s time to reflect and ponder over the makeover that took place during these long, sometimes boring, at times suffocating because of a redundant system but always exciting in class where each day you faced a new challenge.
The challenge didn’t come from outside but from within, when you faced blank faces after teaching with all the knowledge at your disposal, all the skill at your command and all the resources available to you, then came the knocking from within.
There were those sudden eruptions of insight which came as a flicker of light and developed into a beam with a passionate search for effective methodology, teaching aids, lesson planning, class management and search through Internet . All these things left some mark somewhere helping me to evolve as a contented teacher who was always willing to go a step ahead to make it better. The more you try, more you see, never reaching the end, this is the beauty of this profession. You are always a seeker, trying to find new ways, new insights while treading the path set by the people who never dare to tread it themselves .
The Edifice of Education is an effort to define education as understood and practiced by me .
E – Experience
C- Communication & Creativity
T- Transfer of knowledge to situation
N- Nobility of character
Education is a natural and ever evolving process which when imposed and induced artificially not only loses its fundamentals but results in a society devoid of the intrinsic values that define and characterize education . In my coming writings I will take up each characteristic and go in detail of its constitution, development and execution as understood and delivered by me.