Let our Education Connect The Students!
It seems that the modern education system is not able to deliver what our young generation needs either in spiritual on material terms. There is a need to fill this gap between the educational content and the needs of our students.
Have we ever thought what the sole purpose of education is? Different educationists answer this question in different ways. However, if we see the way education is imparted these days in our schools and universities, it seems that education is considered as a method or means to transfer knowledge and information from one individual to the other. There is a ‘teacher’ who transfers the knowledge and information and there is a ‘taught’ (student) who receives them.
Yet, when we see the result of this kind of education, we are grossly disappointed. Despite all these massive pieces of information and knowledge received by our students, the human society has not become as good as it could be. The world in which we live today is spiritually impoverished and morally depreciated. Even if we look in the terms of material outcomes, the picture is not wholesome. In over 50 countries of the world, the unemployment rate is scaling somewhere between 10% to 46%, and 1.3 billion people worldwide still live in multidimensional poverty while 83% of all multidimensionally poor people in the world live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. So, it is easy to understand that our modern education system is not able to deliver what our young generation needs either in spiritual terms or in material terms. Does it not indicate that there is a serious disconnect between the curriculum, content and needs of students?
Lessons from the past…
How can we fill the gap between educational content and needs of our students? This problem can only be solved when we look at the root. Man is essentially a spiritual creation. He is not simply a biological product or a so-called ‘social animal’ (as Aristotle said). He is not simply a ‘consumer’ or a ‘service-provider’ as such. In the writings of the Baha’i Faith – the most recent of the religions – it is said: “Take the utmost care to give children high ideals and goals, so that once they come of age, they will cast their beams like brilliant candles on the world, and will not be defiled by lusts and passions in the way of animals …. but instead will set their hearts on achieving everlasting honor and acquiring all the excellences of humankind.” Baha’i writings further emphasize: “Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved – even though he be ignorant – is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the science and arts….” This same holistic mission of education is highlighted in all great religions. For example, in Hinduism, it is said:
(I bow before the teacher who shows me the holy feet of the One who is the ‘Unbroken Orbit’ and Who pervades this entire universe).
Unleashing the latent spiritual potentials…
In this light, education and, eventually, the curriculum contents should be so designed that they unleash the latent ‘spiritual potentials’ of the students. Since God has given different abilities to different individuals, once their ‘spiritual potentials’ are tapped, they will bloom like self-motivated individuals knowing their special talents and putting these talents to the useful service of the society. In this way, the students will not only be able to express their godly nature and contribute towards making a morally-spiritually progressive society but the problems like poverty and unemployment will also be wiped out because the youth will be able to engage themselves in their choicest profession.
The curriculum and its contents should be so designed that they help youngsters understand their spiritual nature and explore their potential to live a blissful life through meaningful services to their communities and capacity-building of their own.
The Kothari Commission…
This is what the Kothari Commission, set up by the Govt. of India in 1964 to suggest reforms in education, actually recommended. One of the most important recommendations of the Commission was that, “the school and the community should be brought closer through suitable programs of mutual service and support. Work-experience and national service, including participation in meaningful and challenging programs of community service and national reconstruction, should accordingly become an integral part of education….”
The commission also proposed the ‘three-language formula’ advising that basic education must be imparted in the mother tongue while an international language must also be taught. It is therefore clear that the Commission understood the importance of linking the ‘school’ and the ‘community’ and underlined the terms like ‘service’ and support.’
“Take the utmost care to give children high ideals and goals, so that once they come of age, they will cast their beams like brilliant candles on the world, and will not be defiled by lusts and passions in the way of animals …. but instead will set their hearts on achieving everlasting honor and acquiring all the excellences of humankind.”
On the other hand, what is actually happening is that we expect our students to read and learn content which is often irrelevant to the needs of the community. What is good for Peter is not essentially good for Paul. However, our curriculum contents are identically designed both for Peter and Paul.
At the same time, we have introduced the element of ‘being competitive’ more prominently than ‘acting in a spirit of service’ and ‘supporting’. This has begotten a rat race and has imposed massive pressure on our young minds. They do not tend to ‘learn’ but to ‘cram’ the knowledge and information their curriculum is bombarded with. Passing the examination and facing the job market imposes such an inexorable pressure on their tender young minds that they become victims of depression and many of them even commit suicide. This scene is horrible.
The spiritual connect…
“I am the Alpha and the Omega”, said Jesus Christ. “There is no Truth superior to Me,” proclaims Lord Krishna, and Baha’u’llah declares, “The beginning of all things is the knowledge of God.” Despite such clear precepts from the Supreme Teachers of the mankind, we have unfortunately focused on enriching our contents with a mere materialistic approach which does not – and cannot – address the needs of individual students.
Each child is potentially the light of the world and, therefore, the schools and the teachers should help the students explore their individual potentials and imprint on their minds that knowledge is a means to service of mankind and this is the most holistic goal of individuals. The curriculum and its contents should be so designed that they help the youngsters understand their spiritual nature and explore their potentials to live a blissful life through meaningful services to their communities and capacity-building of their own.
Tina Olyai is Director at LAHS Gwalior. She believes that leadership is all about investing in people so that, long after you are gone, the impact you have had on people lives on… a good leader must have these three qualities: the ability to inspire, the ability to lead by example and the ability to let your employees feel that the victory is theirs, not yours. She believes that he has been successful in life because she runsher schools with complete honesty and dedication.