‘Passing an exam is a game’
Passing an Exam is a Game. Modern schooling is based on the question ‘How to teach children?’ It should be the other way round: how children learn. There is emphasis on improving teaching methods, content delivery, learning environment, etc.
‘Rationality kills the open mind.’ ‘Reasoning can be done by stupid people.’ These are a few statements by KB Jinan that makes the audience sit up and take notice. The engineer-turned-activist was in the city to deliver a talk on education. In a freewheeling interview with the Hyderabad Hans, the man with revolutionary ideas shares his successful experiments in a potters’ village and learning practices with illiterate communities
On modern schooling
Modern schooling is based on the question ‘How to teach children?’ It should be the other way round: how children learn. There is emphasis on improving teaching methods, content delivery, learning environment, etc. But the nature of all human beings is to learn through experience, through touch and feel. What modern schools do is control and condition in the name of education. There is a need for a complete paradigm shift in the field of education. In indigenous communities learning happens in an organic manner. There is no teaching. If psychological conditioning is the premise on which modern schooling rests, biology and natural propensity are the two aspects on which learning happens.
Modern education is anti-child, anti-life and anti-nature. Modernity is splitting the mind and the body. Modern education creates cognitive damage and knowledge is limited to mere ‘words’.
On Sadhna school
It is a school with hundred children in the age group of 3-8. External conditions dictate the content and the available resources, be it mud, logs, grass, wood and others, are used in learning concepts. Discovery happens by experience, by doing and by experiencing.
The school is 40 km from Pune. The children are from the surrounding villages. We are conditioned to think in a certain way. It is illiterate people who hold the key to our recovery, they use their senses. I call them ‘sense cognites’. And those who get immersed in texts, I wish to call ‘text cognites’.
The present system focusses on how to teach children. Can we look at how children learn? We have to move from the teaching paradigm to the learning paradigm. In the villages the child is living in a learning environment. Children learn what they experience. We wanted teachers to be learners. We got them out of their conventional methods. Most of the time they would be making toys, houses and during the rainy season the students caught crabs. At the school even the teachers learn every day.
The mad rush for ranks and marks has dented the mind. Memorising is the bane of modern education. Passing an exam is a game. It has nothing to do with knowledge. Modern education prepares you to become clerks, while practical learning teaches you to sustain. The need of the hour is for life sustaining skills.
On reviving a potters’ village
Aruvacode was a potters’ village that had lost its art over a period of time. The community went after jobs in factories and the women turned to prostitution. The method adopted in the village also was not to teach or preach, but to encourage the villagers to return to their roots and come up with their own designs. The villagers’ crafty hands and ingenuity brought out some of the best designs.
Here the learning took place through experience and being one with nature. Today, the village is again bustling with energy and the potters are back in business. The Aruvacode experience is an example of ‘creativity is life sustaining’.
(KB Jinan travels across the country conducting workshops, courses for parents, teachers, children, and students reading design, architecture and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)