Holistic Education – Explore, Experiment and Experience
Every child enters school at a very tender age of almost three years and continues to remain there till the age of eighteen. School sets the stage for a long and ardent journey of fifteen years which includes the most crucial developmental stages of one’s life such as early and late childhood, puberty and adolescence.
This journey provides immense scope for learning in all the domains such as intellectual, social, emotional, etc. However, education in schools be it private or government, always has the intellectual development of the child as the topmost priority. This is what most of the parents here in India look forward to from schools.
The last few decades in India have witnessed a phenomenal transformation in the domain of education. These changes have been evident in all aspects pertaining to education such as school infrastructure and facility, curriculum, teaching-learning process, assessment and most importantly the role of a teacher.
The advent of technology in education has completely changed the dynamics of the classroom. The teacher has become a facilitator who provides a conducive learning environment and creates opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom. In fact the role of a teacher has grown manifold than what it was earlier. However, in the entire process are we really doing what matters to the child? If yes, to what extent and if not, why?
The purpose of education is to ensure that every child becomes a responsible citizen who would contribute significantly to the growth and development of the nation. Though it is the home environment where a child begins to take small responsibilities, it is always the school which sows the seeds of responsibility in the minds of children ensuring that the tree branches out not just in one direction (self) but in all possible directions (others).
A few questions to ponder upon before we move further.
- Are we training our children to take responsibility for their learning?
- Are we allowing our children to make their own notes?
- Are we nurturing the spirit of inquiry in our children?
- Are we building in our children the much-needed courage to accept failure in life?
- Are we providing enough opportunities for our children to work as a team?
- Are we helping our children realize the importance of meeting deadlines in life?
- Are we nurturing habits of self-study in our children?
It is difficult to say ‘yes’ to most of these questions. The reason is our system which directly or indirectly considers nothing more important than marks and grades. Eventually all the efforts of a teacher are directed towards achieving this goal. It is no exaggeration to say that we have thousands of schools in India which provide printed notes to children at least from Class VI onwards. In addition, we also have schools where one-year syllabus is covered in less than six months. What do they do the rest of the year? They call it revision, and this is exactly where we fail in allowing children to take responsibility for their learning. When we ourselves set unrealistic deadlines, how can we help students in setting timelines and meeting deadlines.How is the revision done? The process is very simple. A strategy which encourages rote learning putting pressure on both students and teachers is brought into practice. Neither the teacher nor the child has any scope to think and they simply follow whether it works or not. No wonder schools claim that such practices would produce amazing results but at what cost. In this entire process, we fail to nurture the right habits of learning in the child because the focus was never on learning.
Today in most of the schools especially in Classes XI and XII – practical examination has become a practical joke. In most of the cases, the coefficient of correlation between the marks obtained by students in theory and practical is negative. Why? It is because we do not have confidence – neither in the system nor in our students and hence try to play safe. Such attempts where we do not allow our kids to fall and rise will make them unfit to face challenges ahead of them in the future. On the contrary do we allow our children to spend enough time in the laboratories to explore, experiment and experience? No because the weightage for practical examination is less than what it is for theory.Coming to the investigatory projects be it individual or group – plenty of centres have come up in India where one can pay and get projects readymade. Isn’t this the case even with simple projects where a child has been asked to prepare a working model?
The list is endless and we educators who are genuinely interested in the cause of education cannot remain silent spectators. It is time to have a relook at our system and make changes which help the future generations. With the kind of practices predominant in schools today, can we be sure of producing a generation of learners as envisaged by one of the greatest visionariesof our times – Dr A P J Abdul Kalam?
Think deeper with a clear conscience and one can find the answer.
P V Satya Ramesh is working as a Post-Graduate Teacher in Psychology at the Shanti Asiatic School, Ahmedabad., where he teaches Mathematics up to Class X and Psychology to Classes XI and XII. He is M Sc in Psychology, M Phil in Counselling Psychology, B Ed, and a UGC NET qualified teacher. He has published value based articles oriented towards counseling all the stake holders in the arena of education in a number of educational journals. He has a strong belief in the ancient Indian Value System. He strives to inculcate courage in young minds and teaches them to always stand for what is right. He works in the direction of providing his students an environment which promotes critical thinking and ways to express their point of view without fear.