Reconstruct the classroom

Reconstruct the classroom
Highlights

Children bow down under the weight of their enormous school bags. Why should the school-going child suffer in the name of education? The acquisition of knowledge is not linked to the weight of the school bag.

Children bow down under the weight of their enormous school bags. Why should the school-going child suffer in the name of education? The acquisition of knowledge is not linked to the weight of the school bag.

R K Narayan, who created some of the most memorable stories about childhood, argued for abolition of the school bag. Therefore, the Telangana government’s decision to reduce the weight of school bag is indeed laudable. Such a measure should be the beginning of a wider reform in school education.

Education is a means to achieve internal freedom. Internal freedom is defined as an ability to think rationally and express creatively. But, the classroom confined, examination-oriented and syllabi-specific education system is stifling this rational thought and creative expression. As a result, there exists an eminent disconnect between success in educational institutions and accomplishments in life.

Stating that education is not information, but knowledge, Swami Vivekananda remarked that education has become transfer of information from teacher’s notes to student’s notes, most often not entering the minds of either.

Even in the knowledge economy such a criticism on education system seems to be relevant. Such a reprehensible state of affairs can no longer continue.

Memory has replaced critical thinking. The information loaded education fails to discover the innate potential of the child. Application is lost in the perplexing world of theory. But, theory is that which emerges out of practice and enriches the practice.

The classroom needs to be demystified and reconstructed. The dynamic link between the world around and the classroom needs to be established.
As the renowned astrophysicist Jayant V Narlikar said, "challenges have stimulated efforts all the way to the highest strata of intellectual achievements. Challenges are under-utilised in our school teaching.

Questions could be framed to make the student think and come up with original ideas. In fact, the approach could be two-sided, with the students also raising issues for the teachers to settle issues that may make the latter also think afresh. While it is pleasing to be told the answer to a question that has been bothering you, it is even more pleasing to discover it yourself".

The school education is critical for human resource development. As Yashpal committee observed, the burden of a loaded curriculum and formal learning on the tender children is very unhealthy and it robs the children of the joy of childhood. Education cannot be a torturous experience. Lot is taught, but, little is learnt in our schools. The destiny of India is being shaped in the classroom, said the Kothari commission.

But, the destiny of education cannot be left to the loaded curriculum that does not encourage critical thinking in children. The educational landscape is changing fast imposing new demands. The time has come for reinventing our education system to rise to the challenges of transforming the societies and the knowledge ecosystem.

Technological advances also call for revisiting the pedagogical practices. The archaic forms of teaching-learning methods should be given up. The children should love learning. Education should instil an insatiable appetite for learning. Education should awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

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