Bringing out the extraordinary human potential in every child

The education system in India is riddled with a myriad of issues. Many find that the children do not have any conceptual understanding, no creativity, they are stressed and the list goes on. These are just the symptoms. But what is the root cause of all these? What is the fundamental problem with the education system? If anyone is asked what does A stand for, a vast majority of the respondents would say ?A for Apple? because that is how it was taught in the kindergarten. Now if this would have been done differently by asking students to think of a word starting with A, then different answers would have popped out of their heads.They would have said April, Ace, Ant, etc. Every child is unique before he/she starts going to school. He/she thinks differently but the education system makes every child think the same. This is the fundamental flaw in the education system. Now, the question arises why did this start?

During the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the education system was designed to make children ready to work in factories. The factories did not want the children to think but to work mechanically like robots. So the education system stripped the children of their freedom to think and destroyed their true potential. The same education system that was prevalent in the US and Europe was adopted worldwide. Al though this system evolved in the Western countries over a period of time, the same old system continues to be followed in Asia and subsequently in India even today. After independence, the thrust was to create more blue collar jobs. India was once an agrarian economy. It was only in the 90?s when liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation started, India started producing more jobs in the services sector. Only the industries have changed but the education system didn?t. Despite India emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world (as per BRICs research), the rote system of learning in India prevailed. Parents seem more worried about the number of hours taught in a classroom rather than the quality of teaching hours. For them, keeping the child occupied in classroom matters more than what learnings the child has imbibed.

A study by NASA shows 98% of the children think differently before they start going to school. As they go through this education system, at 25 years? age only 2% think differently and 98% think the same. So does the education system make every child the same? Yes. What we have noticed is that the education system gave us the answer. Once a question is asked, the answers always remain the same. Instead of asking students ?how plants make food?, a question like ?What is photosynthesis?, is asked to them. Instead of asking them to ?Describe Sun?, the students are told ?Sun is a ball of fire at the centre of the solar system?. Through the years in school, children lose the power of thinking on their own, whether it is the choice of career, relationship or life situation. They become dependent on others for answers, they completely lose their true nature and their extraordinary potential remains unrealized.

Now we are facing innumerable questions in the world for which we are only awaiting answers. So what is the solution? We need an education system that recognises every child is different and questioning-based approach, so that it brings out the extraordinary human potential in every child. Dream of a child is nationwide movement, which call upon every educator, every policymaker, everyone who has a role to play in the development of a child, to join hands together to reform the education system and bring out the latent potential in every child.

Teaching as a career has to be made more attractive in terms of pay, perks, etc. At the same time, the entry criteria have to be made more robust and fool proof. We have witnessed how competitive exams such as IIT-JEE, AIPMT, CAT, UPSC, etc are able to funnel best of the talent. Students cracking these exams invariably go on to have great careers in life. The same thing should apply for teaching profession as well. This will certainly raise standards of school teachers.

As the famous quote by Mark Twain goes, ?It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.?. Despite limitations in the infrastructure, teacher-student relationship can flourish provided a right approach for learning is adopted. We know of the Gurukul system of learning. Prof. Anand Kumar?s super 30 is popular national wide. But we need this on a larger scale to cater to the mammoth student population of India. Today at our disposal, we have technology as a great facilitator for learning. A wealth of knowledge and information is at our fingertips. Students should be enabled to sift through an ocean of information and pick up the knowledge that is relevant to them. For the development of a child, there is a constant fight between the nature versus nurture. If the child is not born to inherently intelligent or genius parents, the lacuna can be certainly bridged by proper nurture by good teachers, who are responsible for shaping up the child?s personality from an early age. It is quite possible that all the teachers can end up being role models in their own subject of expertise be it Mathematics, Sports, Music, Drama, etc. This can only happen when teachers who are extremely passionate about their subjects are chosen.

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Mr. Prodipta Hore
Program Director, Aditya Birla Education Academy

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