Wednesday December 12, 2018

The real goal of education is man-making, not rat-race

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By Nithin Sridhar

Rajasthan’s promising city of Kota, which has emerged in the past decade as one of the most prominent destination for education and for coaching children who are preparing for competitive examinations, may shortly end up being tagged as ‘city of suicides’.

With the suicide of a 14-year old boy who was in Kota studying in class IX and enrolled for science coaching classes, the number of students in the city who chose to take their lives this year reached 30. Most of these suicides are due to a combination of stress, pressure from parents and teachers, separation anxiety, and depression. The increasing number of suicides, though scary, is merely an outer manifestation of the deeper problem.

Education, as it has become manifest in the present times, is merely a tool to gain a sound and financially secure future. Though financial security is a necessity of life, it cannot be an end goal of education. The end goal of education is man-making i.e. material, intellectual, and spiritual development of an individual. Mahatma Gandhi had written (in Harijan, 22-6-1940): Man is neither mere intellect, nor the gross animal body, nor the heart or soul alone. A proper and harmonious combination of all the three is required for making of the whole man and constitutes the true economics of education.

The Gurukula system of ancient India was designed such that each student was allowed to transform himself into a man of learning, discrimination (between right and wrong), courage, and rooted in ethics, in addition to learning the knowledge and skills required to lead a prosperous life.

On the other hand, the modern education system, which traces its roots to the secularized education system of the British, successfully uprooted education from all its elements of man-making and has reduced education to a mere exercise in gaining ‘literacy.’ As a result, though children are learning math and science, they are not being trained in ethical and spiritual values that would equip them to tackle the challenges of the outer world, including handling pressure, anxiety, depressions, etc.

The system of education has more or less turned into a rat race for securing seats in the best colleges so that they may become placed in the best companies when they pass out of their graduate courses. This is demonstrated by the fact that for around 10,000 IIT seats, over 13 lakhs people compete with each other. This is not to suggest that children should not strive to get into the best colleges, nor that the simple opening of more quality engineering colleges will solve the problem. This heavy competition, which has more or less has turned into a rat race, has placed children under tremendous pressure to deliver. This pressure from teachers, parents, and peers in turn results in enormous stress and depression. The ideal goal of education is to make students blossom and never to force them into a do or die situation. Thus, Swami Vivekananda defines education as the manifestation of the perfection already in man.”

The blame for turning education into a rat-race and putting children under intense pressure lies not only with the secularized system but also with the parents and teachers who often impress upon their children that landing up at particularly high paying job is the end of education. The issue is further complicated by the fact that streams like arts and pure sciences do not hold an attraction for the students due to the fact there is not much scope for employment.

Just a hundred years back, the arts stream had immense respect among the public. But today, especially in South India, the arts have come to be perceived as an option only for those who fail to secure engineering, medicine, or pure science streams. This is in contrast to countries like the US where the arts and pure science departments are flourishing.

It is high time that the central and state governments took notice of the condition of science and arts streams and take steps to make them attractive, employable and respectable options for children. More importantly, there should be long-term efforts to slowly drive education towards man-making, so that this rat-race put to an end. The spiritual and ethical elements must be reintroduced into the education system and the parents, teachers, as well as children should all be sensitized towards the real goals of education.

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  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Good sketch of this Rat Race industry hub in Kota where the stressful selection and training is to become a high figure EARNER and not a good team player in holistic growth of all stakeholders.

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  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Good sketch of this Rat Race industry hub in Kota where the stressful selection and training is to become a high figure EARNER and not a good team player in holistic growth of all stakeholders.

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Conventional vs Unconventional Classroom

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

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online Training
Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online training makes the content available for students digitally. Flickr

Learning is the process of acquiring new skills or knowledge and for quite some time students have followed the process of enrolling in an offline centre to learn and study from the material provided but now, there is a new and an unconventional approach to upskilling yourself and that is through online learning.

While I was growing up, if I ever wanted to learn a new skill, I had to travel a minimum of 2-3 kms to the nearest learning or tuition centre to enquire and then enrol for the desired training. Though there were interactions with the teacher, but inhibitions got the better of me and with time, because of all the unresolved doubts, the learning started to become monotonous and I lost interest. But online learning has made that journey for a student interesting, fun and a cakewalk. You can relax in your seat while the knowledge is displayed on your screen and ask all that you wish to.

To begin with, what is online learning?

Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online learning makes the content available for students digitally. Students can learn online, anywhere and anytime. Instead of physical copies of books, e-learning uses visual content and gamification.

To help you understand the differences better I would like to compare both the classrooms and the learning associated on the basis of parameters that are essential for an overall learning.

1.       Affordability: 

In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly.

Whereas in online learning, students’ aim is to learn so companies spend resources only on developing the content and thereby lowering the cost of the training.

From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly. Pixabay

2.       Flexibility and convenience:

In a conventional classroom, if you miss a class it gets difficult to grasp the topic and understand what is being taught. The classes have to be attended on fixed days
and timings, offering almost no flexibility. Whereas in online learning, the classes can be taken as per your availability and thus giving you an opportunity to design your own curriculum. You could also watch the classes over and understand the topics in-depth.

3.       Answers to your questions:

While learning, doubts might arise about the topic being taught but students usually hesitate in asking questions in a classroom. Whereas in online learning, you are an anonymous user and your doubts, as frivolous they may be, can be asked without any hesitation.
4.       Practical experience:
The learning journey in a conventional classroom is about reading and grasping, it involves little or none practical applications of the learnings. Whereas in online learning, the training is designed in such a manner that the content is informative and involves practical applications as well. The test and assignments in the module are made to ensure that the student has a holistic growth.

Also Read- Apple Watch Helps Users in US Take ECG

Only 20 percent of the five million students who graduate every year get employed, industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a report, published last year.

The competition is stiff and is going to get worse with time so It essential to make yourself stand out from the rest to increase your chances of getting hired. The certificate you will receive at the successful completion of the training will help in making the employer realise that you have relevant skills and in-depth knowledge about the subject.

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

About the Author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the Founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and trainings platform. (Internshala.com)