I am taking a lot of effort after a long, long time to write this piece which is something we have been working on and testing for quite sometime – fun-ducation. My motivation to do so comes from the fact that I am seeing everyone give their 'expert opinion' on how best education can take place. Some of it would go on to become real disruptions and some of it real disturbance - whatever be the case. But one just cannot deny that there is this wave going on throughout the world as we all sense education to be the 'Next Big Thing'.
Who am I to speak on this? Not that I am an expert myself, but I know one thing for sure - the exact pain point of the consumer. I completed schooling in 2007 and under-grad studies in 2011. I think I have some perspective from the consumer side which is what really matters to me and the vision of Gyan Lab.
As a student, all I desired my education to be was something that was 'fun to do', something that 'I wanted to do'. I think to make a real impact this is more important than anything else. If I am enjoying my education for real, I would want to do it. And do it well. Once there is true desire, true education will take place. Instead of taking such a simple point through and implementing it, we made it a very, very complicated affair. You cannot only blame schools or policy makers for today's condition of education in the Indian subcontinent. Every single stake holder including parents are responsible for the same.
Just for the sake of an example, here is something that has become very common these days and some people can totally relate to this. You wanted a school for your child which you could boast of in front of your friends. Some people built such schools. You paid hefty donations (called admission fees, development fees, etc.) and massive fees and got your child enrolled to satisfy your ego. They gave you promises of some stuff like swimming, golf, tennis, horse-riding, etc. But, there comes a time when you feel the school is ripping you off and charging more money uselessly. So, there is no trust between you (as a parent) and the school. Sounds familiar? Then you are one of the 'urban modern rich folks' who have so much of collective value to change the way in which education takes place yet you believe in satisfying personal ego over everything else.
That is just one case. There are many more. You see hypocrisy everywhere in the education field. This added with the fact that it is massively fragmented makes it look one hell of a task to make actual dents possible. However, in the last three years that we have been working in the education field, we have seen real interests from school administrations, parents and educators to bring about the much talked about change. There is this huge wave of democratizing education taking place and we are really happy to be right in the middle of the action.
Bringing fun-ducation is not a very hard task to fulfil actually. It is only a matter of some solid brainstorming and, innate and accurate implementation. Our effort at Gyan Lab has been to make fun-ducation the mainstay of the learning process. It is really amazing as to what kids (especially in early and middle school) can do when given the full reign of their own learning process and pattern.
The first step to introduce fun-ducation is to involve kids in the decision making process for anything that concerns with them. As I have seen as a child and now, kids are treated to be naive, idiots and creatures who are not supposed to be involved in the decision making process about anything including themselves. This needs to change in order to make them responsible. There is also another side where parents just leave the kids to decide what they want without any discussion. This case is also a problem as free things have no value in our lives. Start off with basic responsibilities, keep making them more complex with time and definitely praise your kids for any job done well. This process must start as early as 5 years of age so that kids can feel responsible and be judicious. My parents always made sure that I was involved in the decision making process of my life and this made me responsible for whatever happened in my life including choosing to study mechanical engineering and starting-up right in college.
A very vital step is to ensure that nothing is taken for granted. I have had hundreds of parents coming to me for counselling for their kids saying that they do not value the hard-earned money and are very stubborn when asking for a lot of things. This is the first of lessons that a child must learn in life – nothing comes for free. I think this is a very sensitive issue and something that parents must take care of early in a child’s life. How about having a fair barter system? And, saying that you will gift your child an XBOX 360 for a 95% marks in an exam is not fair! And, it is not fair to you because you will not give such a deal to an outsider, will you? But saying that you will tip your child well if he/she helps you at the green grocer’s market is a good proposition. Letting them be entrepreneurs in their own rights is also a great way (say garage sales) to help your kids understand value of everything.
It is at this points, after getting used to the above two points can we introduce them to fun-ducation. Fun-ducation will ensure that while they have fun learning, they understand the cost of education and make the most of it. They also seriously start thinking of their life and career (their favourite career may change every six months but atleast they are giving enough thought to it should please any parent). If they alternate modes of education that are being tried to be introduced to kids are introduced without preparing them, then the education does not happen and the whole activity just is pure fun. This is definitely not our intention, nor of any other organization working in this direction.
The change is inevitable but it can definitely be accelerated, and it needs to be accelerated. We do want Fun-ducation to become the successor of the moribund and archaic Education in India. Do you?