A learner-centred environment needs to be created in the classroom to make the students thinkers and innovators. Life-skills education should be well integrated into the ecosystem of the schools
Mankind is at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. There has never been a greater urge to ‘learn on the go’. In the words of Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. Is our present education system preparing the students to be life-long learners? Are we preparing the students to adopt ‘disruptive technologies’ with ease? In other words, are we teaching our students that change is the only constant, so they should learn to adapt and innovate?
The current system of education places a huge emphasis on marks with little or no emphasis on life skills. Is this lopsided emphasis on scores preparing students well for a future brimming with unforeseen challenges? Indeed, the craving for marks among students, parents and teachers is so intense that the students are in a rat race at all times. Hence, instead of focusing on understanding concepts and comprehending them well, students, unpretentiously and naturally slide into the whirlpool of s coring high marks. They want to memorize the content to be able to answer all questions.
The desire to be in the top ladder of the marks race gives students, parents and teachers sleepless nights. To satiate the desire for top marks, students join coaching classes or the so-called Tuition Centres. Tuition centres are mushrooming all over the country. Most Tuition centres do not focus on developing critical thinking and problem-solving ability. In fact, they do not focus on developing any kind of life skills, like decision-making or creative thinking. Instead, many of these are shops where students are spoon-fed answers, so as to help them secure high marks. Also, parents pour in their hard-earned money for students to take tuitions. Unfortunately, the aim is just to score high marks without any emphasis on developing the thinking ability of students.
It is seen that children who are successful in life and grow up into well-balanced individuals with amiable personalities are not necessarily the ones who were toppers at school. Are school toppers really successful in life? Students who have shown average performance in school are the ones who take time to understand concepts better themselves in classroom situations. Most of these students understand the philosophy of ‘learning how to learn’ and are truly lifelong learners. They struggle to understand the concepts on their own and in the process develop better cognitive abilities for analysing and assimilating information. They have better psychosocial abilities and interpersonal skills, so adjust better in society.
Our schools need competent facilitators who instead of being ‘sage on the stage’ are ‘guide by the side’. Instead of giving ready-made answers, students should be allowed to think themselves. A learner-centred environment needs to be created in the classroom to make the students thinkers and innovators. Life-skills education should be well integrated into the ecosystem of the schools.
According to UNICEF, “Life skills are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are loosely grouped into three broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others.” Hence, the need of the hour is to amalgamate cognitive skills, personal skills and inter-personal skills well into the pedagogy so that education programmes are effective and meaningful.
Undeniably, it is pertinent to give more emphasis during the school hours on developing life skills among students than just focussing on marks. It is vital and crucial to effectively integrate critical thinking and problem-solving ability in the scholastic domains of the teaching-learning process. Unless we stop spoon feeding the students with ready-made answers, they will never develop the ability to be rational thinkers. Our content-driven education system needs to evolve further to integrate life-skills among students at all levels of teaching.
India needs to learn from the success stories of the education system of other countries if it wants to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of children attending school. School education is the foundation of growth of society and nation. It is the fabric which is well-woven into our community and needs to unfold and mature further. Only then can our nation become a truly developed nation.
-Dr Pratibha Kohli,
Principal of Agrasen Model School, Pitampura, Delhi.