Do We Need To Teach The Next Generation?

As we see scores of jobs and occupations becoming redundant faster than new ones taking their place, it is critical that the education we impart our children today allows them to think critically

“Why did you not do something?” is a question that I, as a father of two pre-teen children, anticipate with dread. I can sense their anger towards ‘my’ generation who will leave behind the world in a much worse place than it was when we were their age. The question haunts me every day and for that reason, I remain committed to ‘doing something about it!’ 

Over the past 10 years, I have visited over 200 schools across approximately 10 countries and I have found the same trend – getting children ‘exam ready’! Ready to pass the next big test or a standardized assessment. Rote learning being invariably imparted and imbibed – Principles which emerged from the industrial revolution.

The ways in which these outdated methodologies are setting our children behind would be a treatise in itself. I, however, would like to focus on What I ‘did not’ observe in most of those 200 schools – critical thinking skills and values-based education.

Today, we are living in a world that is changing more rapidly than the DPs on our WhatsApp profiles. Amazon is shutting down Kmart, Tesla is shutting down Ford, Flipkart is shutting down Kirana stores, Paytm is the new currency, OYO is the largest provider of rooms without owning a single Hotel! Where are we headed? If I even attempted to predict, I’d be fooling myself (and you). With this metamorphosing planet, what then, do we need to teach the next generation? 

As we see scores of jobs and occupations becoming redundant faster than new ones taking their place, it is critical that the education we impart our children today allows them to think critically. Subjects should not be taught in silos anymore but instead, move towards multi-disciplinary topics which allow children to test their knowledge using real-world simulations on a daily basis! This will equip our children with multiple skills and prepare them for the uncertainties of the future.

We are also witnessing a phenomenon being precipitated by the increasingly previous presence of social media in our lives. I speak of the polarization of views and the increasing intolerance that comes along with it. Our entitlement to our opinions is getting stretched to also accommodate our entitlement of facts!

Education systems that focus on a healthy combination of imparting Knowledge, Attitudes, Values, and Skills as opposed to only Knowledge will see their next generations thrive more than most others. The education of the future should focus on children’s ability to respect others and their opinions, irrespective of their caste, color, race or religion. It should also encourage healthy debates amongst teachers and peers with diverse and diverging opinions to train their internal muscle tolerance and acceptance.

This will allow children to acknowledge their privileges and notice its absence in others. It is these sets of values, skills, and attitudes that we need to inculcate in our children more so than ever before. While children learning about Fractions and State Capitals is important, we also need to develop considerate and compassionate human beings.

We need a radical change in how we are thinking about schools and teachers. We need schools to be facilitation platforms and teachers to be facilitators of knowledge. If I want to see my pre-teens enter a world, ready to take on the challenges and opportunities it throws at them 10 years from now, I must prepare them appropriately – I must be willing to make the changes to ensure that they and others in their generation, succeed. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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