Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself


John Dewey had said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”.
Through this article on Education leadership that I attempt, I will just not be sharing my views on education but help make a change and difference in people’s lives.
“An improvement a day”. This statement holds a lot of meaning, which I had heard a fine colonel once uttering whilst dining, one chilly evening. India has come a long way in bettering the standards of education and people benefitting from it but has a long way to go and miles to cover before “we” all “sleep”.
Education is a prime right to all citizens. It is a basic right that one could ask for. As eating, sleeping and breathing is essential for living, education too is a “need” and not a “choice/privilege” anymore. It is of utmost importance because without it we are disabled, paralyzed and unable to function and survive in the world.Therefore, a lot of importance, weight and substance is attached to it. This importance makes it even more important for us to handle it in the most careful, logical and sensible way for our sons and daughters to make the best use of it.
Education torch bearers like Maria Montessori, Conrad Wolfram, Anant Agarwal, Stephen Hawking, just to name a few have revolutionised education, giving it a new dimension, a fresh outlook and an angle to think upon. Child-centric learning is doing the rounds in schools now, “trending” is what the netizens would term it as. It is being talked about very popularly and on a wide scale in public forums and platforms, global and international summits. There are books, magazines, journals, blogs and videos on child-centred learning. But this breakthrough concept has to be embraced whole-heartedly and executed by all to give true meaning to education, we need to walk the talk and bring out the best in children, by not limiting their capacities but helping them unravel their innermost to the world in the most uninhibited and unapologetic way.
Education is not limited to books and papers, black and white, completing dissertations and meeting deadlines.Education is outside of it too, for example, bird watching, gardening, farming, learning the aesthetics of life through fulfilling ways of learning music and dance, enhancing one’s artistic and emotional capabilities too comes under the broad header of “education”. India needs to give it’s people the reason to live and chase their dreams, not to be told what to do, how to think, what’s right from wrong but give an individual the scope for learning by themselves. They should be taught how to learn and not stuff their minds with excess information, consequently puzzling them.

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE: Let me break this prevalent idea down into simple facts : Knowledge is vast, information plenty, there is plethora of courses and subjects to choose from, an array of employment opportunities designed for every individual. The world of education has so much to offer. So, naturally and most commonly students get baffled about what to take, what to leave, what to understand and what to not. Not all are ambitious, wise enough to know what’s the best career, and are unsure of their goals, their strengths or weaknesses.Therefore, those students are left behind in the dark, trying to find their way through the darkness, fumbling, getting hit, blows after blows until it is too late and all their dreams get crumbled and shattered under the rubble and debris of ignorance and uncertainty. Let’s talk about the scenario today in the field of education. The syllabus of different boards have been meticulously made and different topics/chapters of different subjects carefully curated so that a child may learn everything by exploring the vast expanse of knowledge.CISCE has recently developed the new curriculum which is child friendly, broad-based and activity oriented. Needless to say, the syllabus designed is extremely vast, exhaustive, informative and helpful to teachers who are working towards uplifting the standards of education.Therefore, every possible method is being incorporated into the system to ensure quality education but one question remains and, that is ,how far is it being successful.
The problems are quite common amongst most schools:
Large number of students but poor infrastructure
Vast syllabus but less time
Class Management and student discipline
Mixed bag of students( high achievers/ average students/ low achievers)
Sheer commercialisation of education
Tutorial centres at every nook and corner
Parents’ lack of faith and understanding towards Schools

What is missing in today’s generation “Y” and “Z” is “empathy”. The millennials are living in a world which is fast paced. Hence, they rush into everything, there is no patience, the youth don’t want to persevere. They have an idea that the world functions as their handsets/ tabs/ pads/ phones do- everything works at the click of a button or a left/right swipe. But that’s quite far from the truth. Their dwelling in the virtual world have removed them far from reality. Therefore, the children need to be taught the roots of education. They need to be told the true essence and meaning of education. Education is not simply learning of facts, or solving a sum, memorising quotes and doing experiments. It is beyond that. Children have forgotten to love, to care, to share, to bond, to be strong and brave. This is because of us rendering them into weaklings. We cannot merely complain about their weaknesses or shortcomings but find a remedy on how to combat those negatives and turn it into positives.
Children of today are taught Science subjects which will help them crack the prized competitive entrance exams like – NEET, IIT JEE etc and eventually get them jobs such as mechanical/civil/ software engineering. But, unfortunately and sadly, they know nothing of “Climate Change” or “Scarcity of resources” and “Plastic pollution” which are biggest debate topics in UN and other prestigious forums. Even if they are aware of it, they tend to ignore it either because of their selfishness or helplessness. Let’s look at the recent doings and actions of humans in killing “AVNI”, the tigress of Maharashtra. We poached it, hunted it and finally killed it. What are we teaching the kids? Are they aware of “extinction of animals” and the disastrous repercussions of it?
Children are taught the subject “CIVICS” today but they are not aware of the recent laws or rules implemented by the government. We teach “ECONOMICS” in schools but do children really value the information of people living under the poverty line. They blindly rote learn everything in the book so that they could just pass their so called “EXAMS” to make their parents feel proud.This is not a fault of their own because not just the system of education needs change but the whole nation of ours needs a revamp to be able to make education in all parts of the country effective.
Now let’s move into a more sombre and serious part of education, as deemed by students and their dear parents- “ The process of evaluation-EXAMINATIONS”. According to the parents, this is what truly and solely matters. Scoring well and of course scoring a 90% is the greatest achievement , sometimes even that 90% falls short to satisfy their unrealistic demands. This whole idea of marks determining a child’s future should stop. Every child is blessed, unique and special because it is GOD who made them. Children are a gift of God. Therefore, God wouldn’t be biased or unfair giving his gifts of talents, skills and aptitudes to a select few. Everyone has some gift or the other, it is on us how me make a child understand it and make something out of it. I can give many examples of how great personalities in the world whom we revere, recognise and follow, were not truly great or meritorious students in Schools. This is because the educators somewhere down the line forgot to appreciate and acknowledge such students. These students turned out to shine like diamonds later in life because of their own hardwork and belief in themselves.
The children are constantly judged, pressurised and mocked about their scores in exams. Do marks say it all? Is that the only learning a child is capable of?. The parents and guardians of INDIA judge a school to be “good or bad”only after analysing the Board exam results of a school. But, is that the only thing that can brand a school to be a premium or a substandard one.
Exams are meant to check what a child has learnt, how much the child knows and how could he/she apply it in life. Whatever, the child learns in schools, must be retained to be utilised in some way or the other for the betterment of the society. It is not to measure a child’s intelligence with some figures or statistics.
Another challenge that most schools face is the discordance between the school and parents/guardians. There is a lack of faith and trust in schools from their end. Their no common belief or understanding of the vision and the mission that school holds. The parents( not all, but the majority) have their own diverse beliefs which don’t fit in well with the system of the school. The emergence of tutorial centres and competitive exam centres have gained their trust more than we have. The parents in conjunction with their wards have reduced the school to be a mere “examination centre”. The “guru-shishya” bond which children shared with the teachers is slowing fading away and we have much to blame those indifferent parents who have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to their wards and schools for that matter.

SOLUTION: People know the problems, the diagnosis of it but the solutions must be found too to progress forward:

Children need to be sensitised about the important things in life: they need to be taught the values, ethics and moral principles on which great countries stand today. Moral/ value education is the need of the hour. Inculcating and instilling strong values in children will help them be better people, more understanding, more loving, more tolerant and patient. Value education is regarded to be the “least important” subject by teachers, students and also dear parents as it does not entail “marks”. But, it should be given due importance as we see the world has more scholars, scientists, erudite but less “human beings” who fail to be humane.Due importance should be given to “little things” in life which eventually make a big difference. In the light of recent events, we see that in different fields of education, politics, entertainment, media , sports, there are malignant forces and corrupt individuals who are deteriorating the condition of the country.People have the knowledge yet choose to be ignorant, people have the power yet back off from helping the powerless, we know unitedly we can gain victory yet we choose to fail.
Life skill development which is popularly followed in USA and JAPAN must be encouraged amongst students which will help them understand the practicalities and technicalities of life. It will aid them to be self sufficient and independent in their dealings at a ve ry early stage in life. Both home and schools can actively participate in facilitating life skills training to children. As simple as closing the tap to save water, having sympathy for pets, learning household chores, keeping the environment clean, participating in activities outside of school will bring out positive results. The child will learn to criticise, think, reflect, and have better problem solving and decision making skills. The child also gets to share his/her views with others, thereby developing inter-personal skills. The child gets to mingle, socialise and achieve a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood.
Phenomenon based learning/ skill based learning which is practised in SWEDEN is quite phenomenal. Their primary school system was ranked NO.1 in the world in 2016, according to the World Economic Forum. This way of learning will prepare the children for the future. Phenomenal based learning doesn’t focus on a single subject like Math but brings other relevant subjects into one discussion on a burning global issue , let’s say the “ Water crisis”. Students are taught about the Science behind it, the history of it and what literature is available about it. The students learn a bunch of skills together in a holistic way and tackle the subject as they would as an adult.
The system should allow a balanced structure of theory and practical. More active participation in practicals with regard to all subjects we teach and cutting down of theory will enhance the teaching-learning process and pique the spirit of enquiry amongst learners. It will help them develop the power of reasoning and questioning.

OUTCOME: Bringing about a revolution and change in the country is only possible by encouraging and giving the right education, showing the right path and direction to the youth of our country. If we have schools teaching the right values, then we can bank upon the youth to become right leaders, and the right leaders will create a nation for all to live together. Let us not underestimate the power of education, with correct learning one can take its country to great heights.
We don’t want literates who have all the knowledge in the world yet fail to make a change but we are in need of those educated souls who just haven’t gained knowledge from books but have illumined their minds with wisdom to create history.

Finally, I would like to conclude my article on a hopeful and a positive note because it is only “hope” that keeps our spirits alive in the dreary and dull world. After a day’s toil, grime and hard work one longs to go back to the peace and harmony of a “home”. The whole point and purpose of education is to live in peace, create space for all and to have compassion.

As the famous quote goes:
Where there is righteousness in the heart,
there is beauty in the character.
when there is beauty in the character
here is harmony in home,
when there is harmony in the home
there is order in the nation,
when there is order in the nation
there is peace in the world.

Mrs. Sonia Gidla Medidi