Time To Reboot Education - Grounded On An Indian Philosophical Outlook

Education is an integral part of our growing up years, the benchmark that becomes the deciding factor for our success or failure in the real world.

Even though Maslow deems education as one of the higher need of humans beings, that is realised after the satisfaction of basic requirements like food, shelter, money, it is undeniably a facilitator of all that we require. 

Aspirations of a good education take seed because of certain fundamental desires. Is it the dream of a better job, a better lifestyle that pushes us towards accumulating degrees? is it the longing to be more knowledgeable? Is it the confidence we acquire from being educated? Or is it some other expectations that edges us on? If so, is the current education system equipped to fulfil these aspirations? 

Education is an integral part of our growing up years, the benchmark that becomes the deciding factor for our success or failure in the real world. Candidates without a certain level of academic prerequisite, do not even qualify to appear for most interactions with respectable organizations. All assessments from the character of a person to their professional success are measured on the yardstick of how much and from where he/she has obtained their credentials from.  

As an educationist, I often oscillate between the push and pull factors of a good education and always wondered if a similar thought process bothered the other decision-makers in this sector. 

Push being the expectation of a system from the candidates, to memorize a certain curriculum and perform a certain way, in terms of grades. Pull being the attraction and affinity that a student feels towards the curriculum and wishes to absorb the concepts because the learning process becomes an addiction and motivates for further research and analysis.  

Before I plunged into an, on the ground research of my own by interacting with experts from this domain, I tried to study the thought process of a few philosophers, to judge if my over thoughtful mind was flawed somewhere. 

This is what my brief study revealed

According to some prominent Indian Philosophers like Tagore and Vivekananda and even western philosophers like John Dewey the aim of education has to be development of the human being into a complete individual. If we notice, the development of a complete individual does not only arise from cramming a certain curriculum but the art of going deeply into the process of problem-solving and dealing with life situations. 

What sets apart humans from animals is their power of reasoning and it is reasoning, which needs to develop through education. In short, the ability to handle real-life situations and problems with maturity, evaluation and prudence. 

While Education may have been defined and perceived differently by different authors, It all boils down to the creation of a complete individual.  

To compare the quotations of an ancient thinker like Aristotle with a modern revolutionary Gandhi would give us a clear perspective that whatever era we consider, the basic ideals of education do not change. 

Aristotle said that education must lead to the “creation of a sound mind in a sound body” 

Mahatma Gandhi, while looking at the specific needs of our country and the youth that would be required to build it, said- “the purpose of education is all-round, drawing out the best in child and man in body, mind and spirit”.  

Despite differences in opinions all philosophers agree on one thing and that is, education is keeping body fit through physical exercise, mind healthy via thinking and problem solving and spirit by means of value education which may become a pathway to achieving life’s goals and ambitions.  

The next dilemma was, then what is a good education that helps this holistic development? 

This we all agree upon, that education must take into consideration two factors -  

1) The individual who is to be educated  

2) the society where he is to be educated. 

It is not only about the individual being educated it is the preservation, spread and rejuvenation of the entire culture.  

In simpler words, it means that what an individual learns, it not only influences them but the entire society as a whole. The education our youth receives leads to the advancement of the society they live in. If the education remains regressive it will not support the evolution of the society. To cite an example, Gandhi, Tagore, Vivekananda all strongly felt that the education system propagated by the ruling British for their Indian subjects, 18th century onwards was based on their need to create and provide English speaking clerical staff to the well-educated British officials. It was never meant for individual thought, opinion formation and development. It is sad that our education system has not progressed much since the post-independence era, with only a few and occasional exceptions  

A good education summarized in the words of 15 experts I interacted with in the form of a structured open-ended interview was that A good education should be one that can be applied to real-life situations, should be learning-oriented rather than job oriented and should create students such that the society becomes a beneficiary. 

It is time for us to think If our education system is getting geared up to fulfill these expectations and the inability to do so is causing our brilliant minds to escape to foreign countries as that is where they are able to learn in a more innovative way.  

Time for us to put on our thinking caps on and our Institutions to rise up to the occasion of providing a better pedagogy and methodology of teaching. 

Now, that we are moving towards online learning and distance education, where the personal contact with faculties may become partially or wholly restricted, the slow process of transformation from being theory-based to application-based learning needs a booster dose. Those Institutions which adapt to this evolution are the ones who shall remain relevant to the very sharp and inquisitive young minds. 

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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