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The Internet Teaches You More, But Hinders Your Ability To Think. Here’s How

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By Shivani Chimnani:

Technology has managed to invade the church of learning- the classrooms. It has spun itself around the learning process, creating something novel and maybe potentially dangerous. E-learning is rampantly expanding and reaching remote parts of the world, replacing apparently outdated teaching practices, and so much more. The internet has become a vital, almost indispensable part of each student’s life. The emergence of the internet and other technology has been both productive as well as harmful. Its impact has been twofold:

E learning
Image source: Wikimedia Commons. For representation only.

The Better Part

Technology plays an integral role in our life, teaching us the unimaginable. The advent of the internet has changed the fundamental learning process in educational institutions, making children potentially sharper and independent. We are using this medium to bring children closer to world experiences and the global community.

School textbooks are essentially very brief and confined to very few aspects of majorly vast topics, and a lot of times, they are outdated and non-insightful. The internet gives school children an opportunity to learn much beyond the script of the government prescribed textbooks, to broaden their horizons with the mere click of a button.

We live in a time where a child does not have to wait till Monday morning Geography class to learn about the solar system, he can do it right there with YouTube and its exquisite graphics, along with a solid explanation. A lot of applications facilitate e-learning, teaching children the crux of varied topics in the most lucid manner rendering them smarter, even giving birth to prodigies. The internet is the immediate and most convenient tool for satisfying a child’s thirst for knowledge, it does not only answer ‘why’ but also what, when and how, followed by facts of world history. If you ask a student the shape of the Earth, be sure yourself, because it’s not a sphere but an oblate spheroid, which he/she must have learned online.

Further, the internet has helped myriad school students further objectives of social justice, to connect with other students from remote parts of the country, even the world, to fight for their rights (they know their rights, which is commendable in itself). In early 2009, Nobel Laureate Malala Yousufzai wrote a BBC diary to campaign against the Taliban’s hegemony which was denying education to girls. Yousufzai continued to use this very medium to advocate the power of education and to express Taliban’s growing influence in Swat which led to her gaining massive global support. The internet has done some serious good for many students.

For The Worse

Steve Jobs once said, “The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can.” Unfortunately, the internet has managed to partially ruin the bond between teachers and students by reducing students’ reliance on their teachers. Today, if a student is doubtful of something, instead of asking the teacher, they prefer to google their query. Such practice is harmful because the internet might answer his question, but it won’t engage with the student and provide facets to ponder over, which a teacher would have happily done. The art of posing questions to teachers is gradually fading because a student seems to feel like a know-it-all because he possesses Google.

They often fail to realize that their teacher can provide them much more insight and analysis which will help them remember the theory taught for eternity. A concept taught by a teacher creates an everlasting impact which can maybe even change your life, something which our tech-savvy students are in dire need of understanding. A teacher not only endows us with answers but also with motivation, inspiration and intuition. Google can never subdue the power of teaching, forget replacing it.

Excessive reliance on the internet has to a large extent hindered the students’ thinking ability. The moment a student gets a class assignment, he/she googles about it instead of thinking over it, even slightly. The brain has stopped doing its job because of Google. This is especially harmful because students are not engaging in the most fundamental part, thinking. That’s the only aspect which separates us from other living beings, our ability to think. The internet has rendered our students dull, lazy and utterly dependent.

Change is inevitable. We may fear change, but we cannot stop it. Technology will seep into the education sector and make a powerful impact, but we have to find the necessary ways to strike a balance. We have to make attempts to make the best of both – human and technology. Education and the process of facilitating learning has to be rendered in the most effective manner, be it through humans or machines.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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