Present day education in India has more of a status symbol than anything else. If I am a graduate of the coveted IITs or IIMs, I am considered to be the best in my league, whether I am actually good or bad is absolutely out of contention. The fact that someone would be able to get into a coveted institute solidifies the fact that he or she is a great student or learner. How does it ever symbolize that he or she would be a great manager or worker or person?
Education has become a branding play. Even the school market has not been left alone in this play. The fact that I did my schooling at some of the Top 100 schools in India (what makes these ranking even legitimate is beyond my comprehension) raises many eyebrows and makes people think I would definitely be a superstar in my life. Again, how do people draw such ridiculous summaries is beyond me.
All this made me think hard and I wanted to give my meaning of ‘education’. To be precise, I want to focus on school education when I speak about education – primarily because, in my opinion, whatever we learn till Grade 10 in school carries a long way in life. Most concepts that we learn in school are applied in our real life, knowingly or unknowingly, and if you are a grade 12 passed person, you know enough to live a happy and comfortable life.
When I see school kids today, I initially feel a little jealous; they are born with flair in technology. They have means of education which was unthinkable when I was in school. Also, they have the most powerful tool in education – internet all around them! Yet, I have a doubt that these tools would be of much benefit to them.
My thoughts wander around the fact that even at this pace of development, marks and scores remain the major crux of education today. What this essentially does is that it makes people believe that if their kids are scoring well in school, they would surely excel in life. Such a hollow promise!
I believe that along with cognitive skills (which is all we bother about), schooling must emphasize on non-cognitive skills as well. What I mean is that emotional values must also be carefully induced in kids instead of blatantly focusing on marks. Having some personal experience in seeing kids suffer without empathy, I am hurt by the way in which we deal with kids.
I had a good friend in school who would never score well (never more than 60% in science topics) and his father would always be worried which would culminate into a nice thrashing for him. But he was more than just marks – the boy was a genius in calculations and management without any formal training. And when he was put in the commerce stream, which his parents reluctantly did, it was the wisest decision they could take. Today, my buddy is a CA – cleared in the 1st attempt!
At Gyan Lab, I came in contact with a boy with the kindest heart and clearest mind – but he was too poor and forgetful in his school lessons. I saw him in school on a number of occasions either being scolded by his teachers, parents and thwarted by his classmates. Yet, at Gyan Lab, he would do wonders and ask questions that had the ability to even embarrass me (I created Gyan Lab in the 1st place!).
I believe that kids must be given the freedom to take up courses that they enjoy – be it arts, humanities, sciences or commercial studies.
I love the movie ‘Tare Zameen Par’, not because the child was differently able and he did well, but because someone took the responsibility of honing him in a different way and showing people close to him values that they would have never discovered in the child.
Let us all take the mantle up to ensure that every kid is able to get ways to learn and enjoy that he or she is comfortable in. Let us give them measured doses of cognitive and non-cognitive learning (not a overdose of examination) and let them learn in conditions devoid of stress and pain.
We adults find it difficult to cope up with pressure in life, how have these kids wronged us that we put the entire world’s stress and pressure on their little shoulders.
Such thoughts always remind me of a statement by Nobel Laureate Albert Eintein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
Please let us not do so to kids, let us not over-burden them beyond a limit from where there is no return.
Written by: Priyadeep Sinha (CEO & Co-Founder of ADD-on-GYAN; Creator of Gyan Lab; Entrepreneur in Making; Mech engineer by education only; Makes and builds school experiments for a living)