Over the years, education has been polarising the growth of the people- ‘you should become an engineer or a doctor.’ But the purpose of education is not to drive children to become achievement machines in life. Life is about being in synergy with the environment in which the child lives; the environment that includes all factors like social, ecological and geographical which help the child to develop.
Today, when we analyse the rote-learning method, it is nothing but the after effect of pressure from the society, parents and community that the child has to achieve something in life as if those who don’t achieve a rank are not good enough to be a part of the society which is extremely wrong. Achievement levels differ depending upon the aptitude and other socio-economic or geological factors. That’s where our policy of education and our initiatives should move beyond technology. Technology is a vital instrument for the future. But it’s just an instrument to enhance the quality of living. Here the sociological and the political thought process should reorient itself to facilitate children to grow the way they would love to become which will be in synergy with the sociopolitical environment.
Q. What is the root cause for lack of innovation in India?
Innovation doesn’t start at the University level. It is a trait which is encouraged right from the kindergarten level. Freedom to think and freedom to experiment have to be inculcated right from the primary level in the school. The major problem in Indian education system is the ‘right answer syndrome.’ Whatever the teachers, the elders and the academic leaders have studied, they have accepted and normalized. They think that’s the only right thing. Science is one where every fact is questioned. Innovation comes only when things are challenged and things are questioned. Unfortunately, we don’t let the child question and when the child does something wrong, we have a method by which we discourage him conveying ‘you are wrong’. The fact is, when a mistake is done, learning starts. It’s time to focus on ‘error analysis’ which is the basis of all future learning.
Q. What will you suggest as a robust classroom pedagogy?
Pedagogy refers to the skill of enabling a concept in a classroom. You have multiple styles of pedagogies because learners are also classified as visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. The way a visual learner learns is different from the auditory learner and the kinesthetic learner. Today, the children come with different types of intelligence’s but you cannot ‘teach’ any intelligence. We can only facilitate an environment where multiple intelligence’s are pursued by the child depending upon the individual’s choice. So, whatever pedagogy you choose, it has to be diverse, contextual and which would address the specific need of a child. For that, the early classroom teacher is the best person who can deliver that kind of pedagogy.
Q. Please describe the responsibility of school in teacher training.
When a teacher enters a classroom, all that has been learnt in previous training will only be useful for 10-20%. As experiential learning plays the major role, every school must start with pre-enteral teacher training to contextualize the teacher into school’s social and ecological environment. That is the responsibility of the school. Subsequently ongoing teacher training is very important. If the schools are the centers for knowledge excellence, the teacher has got to be an ongoing learner irrespective of the years of experience. Evidently, teacher training-teacher empowerment is very critical ongoing exercise. Lot of investment has to go across the country both at the government level and at the private level to keep the teachers empowered, contextual and relevant to the classrooms. You don’t need a principal or anybody to say if a teacher is good or bad. The child has to say- ‘my teacher is relevant’.
Q. What is the backbone of a successful school leadership?
I would call a school leader as a chief learning officer or chief happiness officer of the school. Today, we talk about the happiness curriculum. The whole objective of the schools is to make the children happy. Finland is doing well because it’s a happy nation. The happiness index is very good. We need to focus on happiness schools. Therefore, the school leaders should become chief learning officers and chief happiness officers to create an environment of happiness and learning in the school.