Let education uplift society and instill thinking in young minds

By Shantanu Baruah. Shantanu is a writer living in Somerset, USA. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

The effectiveness  of the education system has been debated by scholars and academics for a long time. Critics have lambasted educational institutions for their sole focus on preparing students for the future job market. They blame the education system for curtailing innovation, biases towards select subjects, and confine learning to some pre- set boundaries. There are numerous researches done, many books are written, and several experts condemn the modern learning curriculum. While from time to time scholars have demanded to overhaul the education system, nothing substantial has been achieved thus far.

I am a firm believer that our future generation should be trained not just to make them capable of finding a job, but to broaden their thinking. We need to train pupil to make them socially responsible, we need to open their minds so that they can think beyond the curriculum assigned to them. We need to encourage them to be observant, to be curious, and to challenge every status quo. Only then we will see a progressing world and a developing society.

In today’s education system, we have made learning a medium to succeed in life. The grades indicate how students have exceled and scores become tickets for a better tomorrow. Sir Ken Robinson in his TED talk “Does Schools kill creativity?” brings out some disturbing factors about the education system. Through his talk, he highlights the perilous of developing a generation that is curtailed from thinking. He divulges an interesting fact about how the British invented the schooling system. According to him, during the industrial revolution, schools were created to mass produce future engineers to operate the sleuths of machinery. Though at that time it might have some sense, unfortunately, that tradition has continued ever since. Sure, some alterations are done but at large the schooling system have not undergone any radical change. Even today if students chose to take arts, music or humanities as their preferred subject, the society looks down upon them. The reason is simple, with such academic qualification it is hard to find a respectable job. Besides being prescriptive today’s education system also impedes innovation. Schools lock young minds with a set curriculum and a series of assignments and test. They work like robots to score a perfect GPA and in the race to academically excel they miss on everything else. Sir Ken Robinson further eludes to this points and states that most of the unconventional innovation happened before structured education system was set. For innovation to flourish, the shackles of structural education need to be broken and minds have to be set free to bring the best creativity to bear.

I am not against the education system in entirety. We do need to learn the grammar, mathematics principles and science experiments. We also need some mechanics to build the foundation for pupils to explore and innovate. What I detest is the extremity. We have compartmentalized thinking and ensured that at the end all that matters is the score.

Students have found creative ways to ace the exams and the learning process has taken a back seat. The syllabus based learning challenges the students only in confined boundaries and restricts the art of possibilities. Students are trained to know what is known to the world, and what is unknown is least explored. Amanda Ripley in her book “Smartest Kids in the world” explores the education system in three nations (Poland, North Korea, and Finland) where learning is imparted to make complex arguments, develop analytical abilities and impose skills to think. With her experiments backed with groundbreaking research, she finds that the country such as Poland who were devastated during world war II has risen from ashes purely by focusing on transforming education. Giving freedom to teachers to mold curriculum, or making students focus more on aptitude, they are paving the foundation for a brighter tomorrow.

I remember it was summer of 2016. A friend of mine wrote a book on marketing. The book became popular and it was trending to be one of the top sellers on Amazon. I knew another colleague who went to school with this friend of mine. He was abrasive on his success and fuming with anger on all the accolades he was receiving. According to him, this friend of mine was a third rated student, who barely made out of undergrad school and couldn’t finish his masters, has no right to author a book left alone being successful. He was unable to fathom that a person who couldn’t excel in school succeeded in real life. Though one could say he is envious, there was more to his jealousy. It is the mind-block majority of the population have: to be successful in life one has to be successful in academics too.

In conclusion, I would like to quote a story from Sir Ken Robinson TED talk. A teacher enters into a Kindergarten class and declares to her students that today they will learn how to draw an apple. She then draws an apple on the board and instructs students to copy it on their notebook. As the students drew she started making round to check her pupil’s work. Everyone was drawing the apple expect one girl. She was drawing anything but an apple. The teacher stops by her desk and asks her why she wasn’t drawing the apple. The student states she does not want to draw an apple. She insists her to draw the apple but she ignores her request and kept on whatever she was drawing. Frustrated the teacher asks her what she was drawing. She replies that she was drawing God. The teacher responds back and says what she was drawing doesn’t come any closer to the picture of God. The girl responds, wait for five minutes and I will show you one.

I would like to conclude by stating that while we need to have a systematic orientation towards learning, the freedom of mind and focus on aptitude is critical for the growth of minds. We need to break the confinement and let student challenge the learning process. We need to make them inquisitive to make a better world for tomorrow. A world where people are more socially responsible, compassionate and have innovation in the fulcrum of growth. Creativity cannot be measured, nor could be imposed. When we train the mind to think critically magic happens.

 

28 comments on “Let education uplift society and instill thinking in young minds

    • Shantanu Baruah on

      Thank you, Charu. With the world we live, I think it is high time we create a socially responsible society – liberating young minds is one such mean. Appreciate you taking time to read and comment

      Reply
  1. Jayshreee Solanki on

    As always splendid post. Every aspect of schooling is covered from history to reality check. Its high time we use education in it’s right direction and teach children how to think and not what to think. We certainly need more humans for better society and not robots. Loved it!

    Reply
    • Shantanu Baruah on

      Thank you Arun – I earnestly believe that every kid is born with immense talent, but than trifle reasons cage their thinking. We all need to help liberate their mind for a better tomorrow. Thank you for reading and commenting

      Reply
    • Shantanu Baruah on

      Thank you Akshay – appreciate your lovely comment. Being a father of two kids – I try to enthuse the concept of learning and how they can celebrate learning instead of chasing for only grades. Thanks for taking time to read and comment

      Reply
  2. Ana Daksina on

    Boy, does this ever tell it like it is!

    It’s my understanding that there have been experimental schools in England which make no demands of their pupils at all, but do have all the resources and assistance they need to go in any direction they choose.

    Apparently when these kids decided it was time to get serious they completed 12 grades of learning in as little as three years, and went on to an enormous percentage of scholarships, honors degrees and notable works.

    I wish I remembered a school name to give you.

    Whether or not you find the ones I mention, in my eyes this piece is brilliant both in style and message. Bravo!

    Reply
    • Shantanu Baruah on

      Ana Thanks for your comment. If you come across the name of the school please do let me know. It will be great to learn what experiments are they doing. Also, if you get time Please Amanda Ripley’s work – Smartest Kids in the world. One story that was very intriguing was the Korean one – where there is a pressure cooker impact on learning – students spending over 16 hours just to get in a good school. Yjanks for reading and commenting

      Reply
  3. Astha mishra on

    Wonderful, but its not just article ,its reality of our society .thanks for articulating it so nicely i personally beleive that education system suggeted by gandhi ji nd rabindranatha tagore needs to be implemented again .

    Reply
  4. Asmita Bajpai on

    I think we’re preparing children for the middle of the 20th century and not for the 21st. And by that I mean we are not equipping them with the skills and the attributes and the competencies that they need.

    Reply
  5. Aby Kumar on

    Our hunger for better education in our country never stops.
    It is the foundation of what makes a country great and the key ingredient for global competition.
    Children are being left behind and the statistics are overwhelming yet worth repeating.
    Shantanu, I think you covered it very well, it is imperative for us to transform the overall education system and make it more empowering for our children.

    Reply

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