Education and, educators

Around 4 days back, I had an interesting conversation over micro-blogs with a friend. When he was at Pune, we spent a small part of the evening talking about education, educators and, the process of educating as observed here and elsewhere. It did boil down to a (somewhat idle) lament that “the system isn’t performing according to expectations”. I thought over this over the weekend and, while I am not an educator, I am a “person interested in education”, and, it makes sense to attempt to try and see what the expectations are.

Any functional education system has to provide the participants with the tools and constructs that allow them to have independent streams of thought. While it teaches the formal discipline and rigor needed to pursue new topics, its scope should ideally encourage original thought. More importantly, it should encourage creativity, be intolerant of casual approach and, be ruthless in demanding excellence.

The problem is that reality isn’t always like that. There are a significantly high number of education institutes, some of them of past repute, who are sliding down the slippery slope of mediocrity. This fall is aided by the fact that the “education system” doesn’t lend itself well towards measuring the quantum of knowledge passed on to the students by the educators. And, it is compounded by the sad truth that the prolific growth of institutes have encouraged a somewhat exponential fall in the quality of the staff. The final nail in the coffin is the datum that the system of measuring “education” is around the results of an examination. The fact that the examination pattern does not encourage “thinking” is somewhat of a greater problem.

It is true that the better educators have not involved themselves within the system as much as hoped for. It is also true that the students have been lax in bringing themselves up to speed. The refusal to be aware of whom to benchmark themselves leads to a sort of navel gazing that is self-destructive at best and, a society-exploder at worst. With the current trend of public-funded schools not getting the number of teaching posts at the expense of wider inflow of private education (both at primary and, higher education levels), it does mean that the situation is possibly going to take a larger turn for the worse – a significantly higher section of the school-ready population is going to be unable to get decently functional education.

I don’t have any solution. That rankles. I do observe with rising alarm the somewhat inevitable slide. That needs to change.

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7 thoughts on “Education and, educators”

  1. While I agree that the quality of education is deteriorating, the increase in the number of educational institutes is not the problem. The problem lies in the fact the mushrooming institutes don’t care about education since they are into it for the business.
    Bright individuals must be encouraged to join the teaching vocation/profession. Perhaps some type of competitiveness could be introduced to encourage innovative teaching/learning. This should be applied to the public education system first rather than trying to burn it down.

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  2. I have had a few debates and brainstorming sessions about this with my wife, who is an education psychologist. A very important aspect of this whole thing is legacy.
    The current education system in India was introduced in the British era. It was designed to kill Indian culture and create a workforce conditioned to obey British rule and provide them with an educated working class in India, mostly for clerical tasks.
    While (hopefully) the purpose of education today is different, the implementation is still based on the old system at all level. Effectively, schooling today is more of training than education.
    This will continue to exist as long as education is directly linked to job opportunities.

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    sankarshan Reply:

    I completely agree with your views. The disconnection of education in the form of training from employment opportunities has to happen as rapidly as possible. Additionally, I find it hilarious that although eminent educators waste no time in ranting against the root cause of the pre-independence British system of education, post-independence they never did improve on it or, radically modify it.

    A fall out of the inherent flaws of the current system (based on market demands) can be seen in the drop in percentage admissions for arts, fine arts, industrial engineering, non CompSci-Engg courses. We would end up paying dearly (as a society) for such a thing to come to pass.

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  3. Call it framework, paradigm or world view! The framework has to change. We need to help students gain a variety of skills, knowledge and attitude. My suggestion? List out the s,k,a you want to impart. Plan activities that develop the skills while learning the knowledge. Conduct them in such a way that the correct attitudes develop while gaining skills and knowledge.

    Its not that hard to plan or develop the syllabus in the fashion! But the freedom to do so? Probably in the India of my dreams.

    Reply

    sankarshan Reply:

    One of the start-off points would be to appreciate the fact that the education system is perhaps not the best way to equip students with tools that will facilitate a job. That should, in a way, start a process of introspection on the curriculum. Providing students with the means to explore their creativity and, intelligence to the hilt should make them valuable employees.

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