Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Learning Process

- By Ankush Saha (MA Economics, II Year)

“The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one's person .”

- Greek concept of 'Paideia' as explained by David Orr.

The School Education reforms, as proposed by Mr. Kapil Sibal, Honorable HRD minister of India, reflects the holistic approach to what 'education' should actually provide for than what it stands for in India at present. The education system as it exists today has ample opportunities for a teenager to be on a scale of comparison based on extensive evaluation of their power to assimilate and reproduce textual knowledge. But does it develop one's cognitive ability? Does it allow appropriate space for creative processing of the acquired knowledge beyond the textual context? Does it challenge an individual to juxtapose one's point of view (based on instinct or experience or sheer ingenuity) against what exists? These questions form a relevant aspect of the learning process for an adolescent but more often than not, India's education system fails to touch upon them.The focus of education stays restricted to building memory power, employable skill development and acquiring apt communication skills so as to survive in the competitive market.

Indian school students has a rigorously set system to survive in, primarily dealing with the ability of an individual to outperform one another in terms of marks obtained in annual exams – which effectively excels at creating mechanistic beings capable of survival. The two main propositions of the reforms: Making 10th Board exams optional and replacing marks by grades for IX and X standard, aims to shift emphasis from a quantitative to qualitative aspect of the learning process, which is an essential directive towards strengthening India's future human capital. The relentless efforts put in by a school student to attain a perfect score can be rather diverted towards unfolding and understanding one's productive potential through a more constructive learning process – a process which involves accumulation, analysis and employment of the available knowledge in the world for moulding oneself into a thinking, confident and productive individual. This in turn requires a unified, well structured and supportive curriculum where the third proposed reform for unification of the school education system under one Board comes into play (India has 23 State Boards and 3 National Boards at present).

Being a developing country, India has its drawbacks in terms of provision for infrastructural and financial support for the huge population. Also, as a nation, the priorities of reducing unemployment, poverty and illiteracy stands supreme. But at a critical juncture of staying at pace with the developed Nations, India cannot but substitute the qualitative aspect of education with mere skill development. A combination of learned skills and individual potential is a necessary for a progressive future.

However, given a country as diverse and large as India, the practical glitches awaiting the implementation of proposed reforms are innumerable. Hence, the change in the system may require adequate expertise on behalf of the policy makers but the idea of a holistic education system underlying the proposed reforms needs to be addressed eventually. And Mr. Kapil Sibal has just provided us with a start for the same.

You can see the salient features of all the proposed reforms here. (Editors)

No comments: