By Jodhbir Singh:
Every year, lakhs of students take their board exams for 10th and 12th. At the end of the year, many of them are happy with their results and plan for their next big dream, some make compromise on whatever marks they get, however, others are labeled as ‘failures.’ As Manish Jain, founder of Shikshantar Andolan, says, “there is a global institution that is labeling millions and millions of people as failures.” He was referring to our education system.
Educational research has shown that there are multiple intelligences that exist among children, some children learn through tradition lecture based approach, some learn with hands on experience, and others learn though various other means of observations, etc. However, our traditional schooling has been focusing on very limited number of these intelligences-mainly lecture based approach. In addition, the culture of competition and achievement has resulted in testing students at every step; surprisingly, most of these tests don’t even take into account a student’s interest.
Sir Ken Robinson, creativity expert, describes the process of schooling as something that has been built on the factory model which was designed for the industrial world of early twentieth century. In a factory model of schooling, students enter grade 1st and pass on to the next stage each year through testing at each stage till they finish grade 12th. A group of students who pass through this mechanical process are addressed with a batch number at the end of their schooling year, which in a factory is associated with a product description. Those who fail to get to the end are called drop-outs in the school system, similar to the defective products in the factory model.
Even in the US, there have been two controversial documentaries released in last one year-Race to Nowhere and Waiting for Superman. They are about the malfunctioning education system in the US. Both of them show that there is a lot of pressure on students from teachers, parents, and community to perform, achieve, and to be on top of everything.
Some people have taken initiatives to find answers to the question of purpose of education in the 21st century world. In India, Swaraj University has started a two year program that works on the Gandhi’s model of education- an education with human values. It is based on self-directed learning which is very different from the traditional schooling system. Their admission criterion is also different from tradition institutions. It doesn’t care if you are a top student or a drop out. It has its own unique way of selection procedure. Swaraj University creates opportunities for young leaders to develop their knowledge, skills and perspectives for a green world. It surely provides an alternative to those thousands of students who are labeled as failures by the traditional schooling system.
The message is quite clear- if we can’t change traditional schools, why not create an alternative. An alternative that aims create education as the development of mind, body, and soul of the children, so that no one is unhappy at the end of the year because of a lower digit, marks, assignment to him/her.
Editor’s note: The conventional method of teaching is one of the primary reasons why our children fail to excel. Just before I read this article, I saw a video, an animation of Sir Ken Robinson’s speech which I would like to share. Jodhbir’s words and the below speech should move you enough to consider sending your kid to a school with alternative education. Do watch the video, it’s just 12 mins.