If there is one universal aspiration across the globe, it is to encourage children to learn and grow. There may be innumerable diverse ways in which different cultures approach learning, but the goal is the same. There may be multiple education systems, but the learning objectives are almost the same for each concept, each subject and each developmental age group. There is perhaps no greater weapon and no superlative shield than education and it should not be a privilege; it should be the most easily accessible facility for every citizen of humankind.
We can trace back the roots of Indian education to 5000 BC when the guru-shishya relationship was the most revered tradition of the Indian civilisation. The guru welcomed young children into his gurukul and spent 15-17 years training them in multi-disciplinary skills and knowledge. This was not rote learning or a superficial process; there was immersion, application, introspection, and multiple ways of learning. From reciting shlokas to learning through music, dance, painting and yoga, a Guru ensured his pupils left his gurukul enriched and equipped to lead a life of integrity, morals, holistic knowledge, and unparalleled respect and gratitude for his teacher.
Thousands of years after Guru Dronacharya, Rishi Valmiki and Guru Parshuram, what can we do as a system to provide the best learning outcomes for our students? Here are a few tips:
-The 21st-century teacher must evolve from being an instructor who simply delivers information to her passive learners and grades their assignments. A new-age definition of teaching must also include listening to the needs of the diverse students and encouraging them to learn new things without solely depending on the chalk-talk method or rote learning.
-Teachers would be better equipped if they studied and applied Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence model of learning, which acknowledges and celebrates the different needs of each child. For instance, a teacher who is depending on her verbal-linguistic lecturing skills may not be able to sustain the attention or interest of her student who is low on verbal-linguistic intelligence, but very high on body-kinesthetic intelligence.
-Students should receive multiple and continued opportunities for holistic development and should be able to recognise, hone and present their skills and abilities. Personality building and public speaking programs should be introduced as early as pre-primary and primary years, because confidence building, stage presence, and public speaking are quintessential 21st-century skills.
-While rigour and practice are essential facets of how we process, store and retain information in our memory storage systems, cognitive psychologists have suggested models such as Bloom’s Taxonomy, which focuses on the depth of learning and the complexity of tasks. The simple recall of facts is no longer adequate. Teachers should emphasise the application, analysis and evaluation of material, which will undoubtedly lead to deeper understanding and better performance in national exams.
-Schools should strive to obtain a relatively reasonable teacher-student ratio, which will ensure that each child is given adequate attention without the teacher feeling burnt out or stretched thin.
-There should be conversations within the school management and teaching faculty to redefine the goal of education and ideate how we can shift from marks-driven processes to understanding-and-application-driven processes.
-Research should be made a mandatory part of school education, and students should be able to review scientific literature, conduct experiments and present their findings. This will be a stepping stone to fostering critical thinking and problem-solving.
-Continued professional development for the school heads and teachers will allow for updated training so that new pedagogies can be implemented into the school system.
-Providing extra-curricular opportunities is an extension of formal classroom teaching, because the life skills acquired in immersive sports, debates, arts, music, dance etc build character and enhance personality. A student who scores 90% in his exams but is unable to express himself in a group, will not be able to cope with the needs of today’s time.
-Technology should be mindfully integrated so that it aids learning rather than replacing the teacher. Students should be introduced to information technology and coding and should be assisted in developing logical reasoning and computer literacy.
My biggest advice to schools and teachers would be to make your education system a child-centric one, where your students and their individual needs and skills are the focus of developing a teaching plan. One size no longer fits all, and we must evolve to have an entire arsenal of effective teaching methods and be flexible to shift and adapt in the classroom.
Children are innately curious and strive to explore, discover and create right from their infancy years. Even toddlers are scholars and learners, confident in their opinions and constantly seeking autonomy. We should scaffold them with our expertise and opportunities, nurture their curiosity and creativity and allow them to shine in their incredible ways.
About the Author:
An Inspirational, Empathetic & Driven Visionary of
The Lexicon Group
“If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” This is a mantra, Monisha Sharma, Director and Co-Founder of The Lexicon Group, lives by. Over the last two decades, Mrs Sharma has committed and proven herself as an exemplary woman entrepreneur, forging the path ahead with success across all domains of her professional and personal experiences.
What started as a humble beginning in 2006 with just one branch of The Lexicon Schools with a mere 19 students, today, it is the parent company of an entire ecosystem. With multiple domains and industries under the umbrella, The Lexicon Group includes education, technology, beauty, fitness, wellness, legal services, print media, research and development, and so much more. As a thriving enterprise, The Lexicon Group is a dynamic platform where talents, passions and ideas are supported with expertise and a platform to amplify the potential of the entire team. Mrs Sharma plays a defining role in the success story of this group, and her deep investment and commitment have contributed to the exponential growth of The Lexicon Group.
Mrs Sharma spearheaded The Lexicon Schools and its operations for more than 20 years, during which she carved a niche with unique pedagogies and teaching methods. Her approach always demanded innovation and inclusivity, where every single student has a platform to shine in his/her unique ability. Whether it was her original ‘Caterpillar to Butterfly’ initiative, the science and enquiry driven ‘Research and Development’ programs, or the incorporation of Multiple Intelligences, she led The Lexicon Schools to be celebrated as the best CBSE schools in the entire city.