MARCH 2009 – The biggest questions haunting our educational system!!!

In the month of February I was leading a series of teachers workshops across several cities in India as part of the Horlicks Mission Exams campaign. The focus of the workshop was exam stress and pressures. While delving into the issue I realized that in almost all cities one issue emerged as a common cause. Children especially in high school have a question – Why am I studying this subject? This is one of the biggest questions haunting our educational system.

We don’t look at schooling as a process of learning in India, but it as a means to get grades or a degree. If we look at the National Curriculum Framework recommended by the NCERT and or the curriculum of CBSE or ICSE boards, they are all brilliant in their objectives and vision, the problem is in the way it is implemented in our schools.

Here is an amazing example. Every school going student in India studies Civics for 3 to 5 years. At the time of elections the segment of Indian society that votes the least is the urban educated, infact the more educated the populace the lesser chances of them voting. What it means to me is that after years of studying Civics our children did not understand the first line of our preamble “We the people of India….” We make the country, We make the government. I am sure the Civics teachers went out of their way to ensure that the children got good marks, but never bothered to educate them about the importance of voting.

Its time we looked at what we can do to change this. I have a suggestion. In the next academic year when any teacher of your school walks in a class for the first time the last thing they should do is to teach the subject. The first class must be kept exclusively to build a bridge between the teacher and the children and more importantly to make the children understand the importance of the subject. Teachers need to link up the subject with the real world and its people. If we keep our eyes and ears open and are sensitive to our environment we will get innumerable reasons to study the subject.

The faculty of logic sets into children only after the age of 11, this is when they start thinking logically and they need answers to get conviction. Once children understand the importance of the subject, they get an internal conviction to study it. Half the job achieving high grades would be done if we make this clear to children. Moreover if the subject is interesting, it reduces the stress levels on children as they are not learning by rote but by understanding.

An important task for you this summer – revive your hobby or start a new one. You keep giving gyan to teachers and parents about how important it is to develop an overall personality. Your personality is incomplete without a hobby that enriches you soul or invigorates you body.

May 1st is also celebrated worldwide as School Principals day, pamper yourself on that day and start the year on a high.