The process that we call education is not the sole propriety and prerogative of the ‘learning centres’ we call school. A true education entails bringing in its fold all the possible sources from which a child can broaden his understanding and appreciation of the world he co-inhabits along with millions of other species.
A seasoned educationist once told me ‘all that we are doing in our schools today is making students literate’ implying that the gamut of activities designed so meticulously and implemented with so much fanfare in the name of providing ‘holistic’ education aimed at ‘all round development’ of students is a big humbug.
Not convinced? Well, let us examine this statement in the light of our personal experiences to validate/ refute this seemingly outlandish view. Let us take a trip down memory lane and recollect our schooling experience. Allow the floodgates of memories to wash over you. Don’t make any conscious attempt to interpret and analyse anything now. Relive the experiences and soak in the myriad hues of childhood and fleeting emotions. Ready to take an objective view now? Gradually allow those fond and cherished moments show you how you are what you are now because of those experiences – both sweet and bitter. Where does the school come in here?
All those experiences that painted the landscape of childhood and laid the foundation of adulthood either occurred during schooling or the mind associates them with the schooling days. Some of these may have happened in the context of ‘schooling’ and others outside it. But the tendency is to ascribe it to ‘the school’. But a close examination of these incidents would show that the school had nothing to do with these experiences other than providing a context to them. The actual source or fountain head from where the life-altering experiences emerged was the individual’s mind as it is with all human experiences – whether sublime or otherwise. This is not to take away the credit that many teachers and the institutional culture have had on great minds and the inspirational role that they had played in the lives of many. But the question is how many of us have had such ennobling experiences in the school context to make the claim that schools indeed have a transformational role in shaping impressionable minds?
Transformational life experiences happen in spite of formal education and seldom because of it. In this context it is not wrong to say that learning happens outside the four walls of the classroom and the best medium of instruction is real life interaction that falls outside the purview of textbook based teaching. This reminds one of what Sri Aurobindo once said ‘nothing that can be learnt can actually be taught” . So all these tall claims about ‘Education for life’ etc sound really hollow and just another marketing gimmick. Albert Einstein’s words ‘Education is what is left when everything one learnt in school is forgotten’ disqualifies schools as ‘the hallowed centres of learning’.
So where does one learn those much talked about ‘Life Skills’ and inculcate values that qualify one to be called a humane human? One needn’t look beyond the confines of the home and family in the traditional sense. But with increasing conflicts and aberrations at home front because of disintegration of joint family set up and fast paced, consumerist lifestyle of urbanites, the traditional role played by family tends to get transferred to schools that are either ill equipped to discharge the role or simply not interested .
What then is the actual role of schools? It would do all stakeholders a world of good if role expectations are clearly defined and executed. To begin with schools are centres of learning that facilitate the process of skills acquisition and knowledge upgradation required for understanding the world we live in and operate effectively and efficiently to meet our needs and fulfil our aspirations. Having said that, it should be stressed that all these cannot be achieved solely by the institution called the school. Home environment and experiences contribute and build upon the learning that happens at school. When bookish knowledge gets reinforced by practical application and validated by hands on experience in real life context, learning is internalized.
The process that we call education is not the sole propriety and prerogative of the ‘learning centres’ we call school. A true education entails bringing in its fold all the possible sources from which a child can broaden his understanding and appreciation of the world he co-inhabits along with millions of other species. But the school plays a pivotal role in kindling the thought process and keeping the innate inquisitiveness alive that leads the child on the path to self-discovery and experimentation and ultimately makes him an independent and life-long learner – the culmination of the learning process initiated at school. But most often than not the teaching practices employed today reek of models unsuited to the needs of the present times in realising the ultimate goals of education.
A concerted effort in the direction of systemic reform in educational practices could very well begin with an honest acceptance of the quality of education being imparted in our schools as validated by credible research organisations that carry out surveys to gauge the effectiveness of teaching-learning processes through universally benchmarked intended learning outcomes. Next would be impetus given to teacher training to bring about the desired reform needed to raise the quality of education. Everything begins and ends here. Quality teaching invariably translates to better learning. Better learning in turn will incentivise foray into mastery of chosen field of study and help transition into using the expertise as basis of an occupation to sustain oneself as well as contribute to the well being of society at large.
But as pointed out earlier this is not the be all and end all of education in the actual sense of the word. Innumerable treatises and discourses have elucidated the meaning, nature and scope of education. Anything I might have the temerity to add may turn out to be a repetition of the well established tenets illustrated by the luminaries who have well expounded the process and product of true education.
So I rest my case reiterating the premise of this article that education of the young is an organic and natural process involving many agencies and means of instruction that happens through interplay of formal and informal instruction and propelled by the innate curiosity that lies within.
P AJITHA, an eager learner, teaching practitioner, who believes that true education is transformational in nature. Teaching according to her is an art that can be mastered through continuous learning and a skill that can be honed through incessant
practise and developed through constant reflection but which still remains largely an intuitive process .She entered the profession by chance but continues to stay put by choice.
A second generation teacher who claims to have inherited the aptitude for teaching as a legacy from her parents and owes them her solid foundation in education by virtue of having studied in Sainik School Imphal . She presently teaches at Delhi Public School, Coimbatore but prefers to call herself a co-learner in the journey of self-discovery she embarks with her students in the process that we call “ education “.