Redefining Classroom Boundaries
In the last two decades, the world around us has changed drastically. With the penetration of technology and the internet, we are living in a fast-paced society. Workplaces have broken out of their cubicles and the knowledge we meticulously stored in our pages has crept into our pockets. It seems everything is expanding into a newer territory and aligning with the speed of change.
But what about our education system?
I recently met a young lady, in her 20s, who was working on breaking those boundaries. Not just the physical ones, but also the mental boundaries children trap themselves in. She realised that students spend the first eighteen years of their life within the four walls of the home, the school and their coaching institute. We as a society confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.
It is no surprise then, that most children lack self-esteem and courage leading themselves into a broken belief system of ‘not being good enough’. As educators, we understand how deeply such fears and insecurities can impact a child’s happiness and have psychological repercussions. We have all imagined education as a tool to enlighten the mind and eliminate doubt, but somewhere we made education a validation and criteria of comparison.
We can make education inspiring for it incomplete or rather incompetent in today’s scenario.
Let us assume that two individuals are the same age. Even at 40 both will still be different, though both have read the same laws, theories and treatises. Then why do we have a different way of looking at the world?
It’s not that hard to explain why we are all different, for it is not only about knowledge. Our brain perceives the world by connecting knowledge to our experiences. Since knowledge stays constant, experience defines a lot about how we look at the world and see ourselves in the world.
The education system of today is missing an essential element i.e. experience.
For change makers experiences are gained mostly by indulging in new activities and in learning new skills. This is where travel acts as a catalyst; an enabler to gain new experiences. We often think of travel as annual school trips, which are either a leisure activity or a break from the routine, something secondary in the act of learning.
But travelling means much more than just sightseeing and adventure activities. It has to be interactive, immersive and introspective. So it helps in exploring all the possibilities that exist outside a child’s realm and puts wonder and creativity back in their lives. It has to educate them about the world, its people and problems. It makes them understand different cultures, values and traditions; teaches them respect and tolerance.
The youth should be empowered by designing such journeys that take them outside and also enables them to enquire inside about their purpose and their passion. More than independence, travelling enables a person to break his own boundaries.
Creativity is not found in textbooks or in laboratories. It exists in the minds that are curious to see, learn and do. It is fueled by being outside and being present. It’s no wonder younger children learn faster compared to older ones who are confined to their classrooms and homework.
Venturing out has another benefit that is often ignored. Travelling opens up opportunities and gives you new perspectives which are important for young people choosing a career path or a degree. According to a study by Mckinsey, 80% of engineers in our country are unemployable and it is not because they have lesser brain capacity. The reason behind this hard-hitting fact is that they were not exposed to any other professional choices. They chose thrir paths based on results, and realisation that they are not made for that profession, dawns later when they have made that decision.
It is disheartening to see more and more young people, becoming directionless in this race to the top. The mental stress they go through, to perform is terrifying. Education today lacks adrenaline that travelling and exploring new horizons can provide.
I am M Sc, B Ed from Delhi University.
I have a teaching experience of about 35 years in Physics and have taught in top public schools of Delhi and Bangalore. Further, I have received a classroom star manager award by The Progressive Teacher magazine and was also a semifinalist at tGELF for my innovative teaching practices.
During my tenure at Modern School (1998-2016), I have travelled globally for various exchange programmes including the Australian teacher exchange programme and Japan exchange programme.
I retired in January 2016 from Modern School, Vasant Vihar in New Delhi where I taught for close to 18 years. Post retirement, Modern School continued to use my services as a mentor for newly appointed Physics teachers.
I have edited Physics books for middle school of a leading publishing house.