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Education 2017-10-03

Is it Time to Rethink Schools: An Opinion on Education

Studies have shown that when schools and colleges use technology effectively, there are better learning outcomes.

By Vibha Kagzi Founder and Chief Education Officer

How Schools Contribute to Education

Schools have existed since the days of the early civilization. Schools back then were the temples of learning, where one could learn important life skills, gather education, and hone professional skills under the tutelage of an able teacher. In India, during the early Vedic period, the concept of gurukul evolved, where students lived with the teacher, a guru, in the ashram, a humble abode of the teacher. Teachers instilled values and discipline, treating every pupil as an equal, regardless of their rank or stature in society. Gurukuls gave way to public schools and education systems, where students spent around 6 hours in a day to grasp knowledge, concepts, and important skills. The onus of teaching values and discipline was shared between the educational institution and the home of the student.

Earlier, schools were the storehouses of knowledge, and learning. Now, knowledge is no longer confined to the four walls of the classroom. With the internet revolution, education and knowledge are at your fingertips, available to all. The easy access of knowledge and training has helped education reach beyond elite circles to remote parts of the world.

Different Models of Schooling

Schools have gone beyond the textbook definition of an ‘institution where educators and students come together for shared learning.’ The traditional approach of face-to-face learning using books still exists in our society, but it is no longer the norm. Schools have now increasingly incorporated technology, field trips and a number of other tools to enhance and broaden the scope of learning. Apart from public schools, homeschooling is also another popular schooling method. The onus of transferring knowledge lies on parent or guardian of the child, who establishes a blend of personal coaching, online tutorial, and self-learning to impart quality education.

As schools face increasingly resource constraints, the online model of blended learning is a viable option to help students complete courses. Here, students learn entirely online, traveling to a center only in case of practical submissions or tests. This allows students to work at a pace and in a subject area that suits them without affecting the learning environment of other students.

Then comes the pure online model, where students work remotely and material is primarily delivered via an online platform. Students can usually chat with teachers online if they have questions. This type of schooling model, is new and is constantly evolving. MOOC (mass open online courses) are developing integrated learning solutions to cater to a wide audience, and establish a global reach, with a network of highly qualified professors around the world. So, for instance, if you want to learn from the best of teachers from Harvard or Stanford, you may not need to travel abroad, but just log into one of the reputed online courses.

What We Need to Rethink About Schools

1.    Don’t Stifle Curiosity.

Kids are born explorers.As young children, all they want to do is push boundaries and explore the limits. By stifling the curiosity and making them spend their childhoods preparing for one test after another, restricts their creativity and independent thinking.

2.    Customize Learning to Meet Individual Needs.

Gone are the days when kids are arbitrarily lumped together into classrooms full of students all forced to learn the same thing at the same pace. With technology as an enabler, we have the resources to customize learning to fit each child’s needs. Various online learning platforms help to teach a variety of subjects in a pace that is conducive to match every child’s need.

3.    Don’t Compartmentalize Education into Rigid Subjects.

Knowledge should not be divided up into discreet subjects. You can’t compartmentalize knowledge into disjoint subjects like history or science. Education departments need to appreciate the importance of integrated learning. The world is not made up of isolated subjects. Only a concerted learning model will engage the intelligence of the student to help him or her resolve real life complex problems.

4.    Make Opportunities to Create Knowledge.

Knowledge builds on knowledge. Passive learning should be fluid, and not rigid. While it is good idea to guide students on learning material, and educational tools, it is even better to empower them to use them as they want to. Alternative thinking can help students grow in different ways.Leave it to the student to use the tools, as they choose to.

5.    The Role of Teachers Should Be Facilitation, Not Instruction.

Teachers should be facilitators of learning. Insteadof lecturing, they go focus on each child or group to help them figure out how to learn what they need to know. As a facilitator, teachers don’t need a deep understanding of the topic, but they should know how to learn about it. The objective is to help students to derive their own learning processes.

6.    Grades Should Not Impede Learning.

When education becomes merely a dispenser of certification and degree, it loses the ability to educate the masses. The goal of education should never be to get an A or pass a test. When students and parents obsess about grades and scores, it sucks away the joy of learning. Let’s focus on making students knowledgeable, rather than exam hackers.

Final Word: Schools Need to Evolve to Adopt the Changing Needs of Society

Studies have shown that when schools and colleges use technology effectively, there are better learning outcomes. But that does not mean technology is actually aiding learning.It is not the technology that makes a difference, it is the teachers. Technology, in the form of whiteboards or slide-shares makes the student a passive recipient instead of an active learner. We have been too ready to accept that a lesson is automatically improved by incorporating technology. Just because children like gadgets and are avid users outside the classroom it doesn’t mean they will be effectively engaged at the sight of a smartphone.

This article is written by Ms. Vibha Kagzi, Founder and Chief Education Officer, Reachivy.com 

 

 

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