The first section of the conclave consisted of a keynote address by Mr. Kamal Ahuja, Dy. Headmaster, The Doon School who explained the growing importance of evolution of skills in the future of education. He emphasized the importance of experiential learning, a dynamic curriculum, agile classrooms and a shift from the STEM to STREAM. There has to be equal if not more importance given to reading and arts along with STEM; he gave an example of how most CEOs in the world are history majors and how the study of historical information aids them in decision making. Mr. Ahuja concluded by saying that learning should be rewarded more than results and teachers need to inculcate a reflective approach in the way students learn.
The second section was a panel discussion on the topic: Skill or concept, what is more important in a child’s educational journey? The panel consisted of stalwarts in education, namely, Dr. Gunmeet Bindra – Principal, Welham Boys School, Dehradun, Dr. Harinder Mann – Director, Doon International School, Dehradun, Mr. G. K. Swamy – Founder & Secretary, Purkal Youth Development Society, Dehradun, Ms. Maya Norula – Principal, Hopetown Girls School, Dehradun, Mr. Rashid Sharfuddin – Headmaster, SelaQui International School along with Ms. Anez Katre, Head of Department, Training, The Doon School. Mr. Swamy began the discussion by explaining how cognitive skills, technical skills and interpersonal skills are abilities that students need to develop today and are needed to interpret concepts. Dr. Bindra explained how schools today need to design better curriculums, manufacture the right teachers by training them appropriately and maintain & empower them to do make their students’ learning better. Conceptual learning is easily available on the internet or via books – but skills are needed to comprehend these concepts. Mr. Mann highlighted how the teaching process has changed and is more challenging today. Imparting soft skills has become very important to for students’ overall development. Ms. Norula gave examples of how schools need to manage parental expectations in terms of marks – which leaves very little scope for skill based learning in national boards. The panel also discussed about how teaching has to be considered as a desirable profession by the youth rather than a hobby so that schools also have a better and more dedicated workforce.
This discussion was followed by an introduction to Aditya Birla Education Academy by Ms. Surabhi Goel, CEO, Aditya Birla Education Academy. Video testimonials of students and their faculty of courses from University of Pennsylvania, Iowa & Nottingham were shown to the attendees at the conclave to brief them about the courses offered.
The third section of the conclave was a group discussion on child & adolescent mental health, conducted by Ms. Parveen Shaikh, Psychologist and Head – Outreach, Mpower. Ms. Parveen briefed the audience about the current status of mental health in India. The participants were divided into groups to discuss different mental health concerns. The discussion was focussed on symptoms and what educators can do for each concern. Examples were given on how these concerns could manifest in a scenario more common to boarding schools. Different outreach programs by Mpower were introduced to the group.