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Sunday, November 17, 2019
Expert View

Skilling and Character Building in Schools– the Formula for India’s Success Story

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We are at the Precipice of the Fourth Industrial Revolution! India in 2020 will be the world’s youngest nation; the average age of an Indian will be 29!

Two very important topics doing the rounds in discussions around the world!

The 4th Industrial Revolution is evident with the dramatic change all around us at an exponential speed. Artificial intelligence, automation, mobile super computing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements and Genetic editing is all in the here and the now.

In this scenario, the present demographic potential offers India an unprecedented edge with the youngest working force which could further contribute to the GDP growth rate and fuel India’s Growth Story.

But this growth story needs a matched effort from the Indian Education System to skill, educate and enhance the employability of the children currently in its schools while being able to cope up with technological unemployment and thrive in this transforming world.

The need in this era of globalisation is to move away from Knowledge based Classroom Approach to a Skill based Vocational Approach, one that can clearly have a human advantage over the machine world that is parallel forming. The jobs our children will do are those that machines can’t do. While anything that can be measured or is based on rules will be automated, it also means we can automate the work and humanize the jobs.

Three aspects will characterize the careers of the Future –

  • Creativity and Design Thinking resulting in Entrepreneurship, Scientific Discovery and Creative Writing
  • Social Interaction, Human Touch and Subjective Judgement
  • Craftsmanship, agility, physical dexterity and mobility
Creating the Perfect Education System – one that prepares our children for this opportunity.

At the outset it requires Shifting Mental Models in Parents, Educators and School Administrators and Bridging the Education and Industry Divide. It is what it takes to “Not Survive but Thrive” out there in the New World.

What it takes is definitely not scores in Math and Science but a combination of Skill and Character Building– an education that develops human potential.

It is important to understand Teaching is not delivery but it’s the design- one that is suited and personalized to every learner changing needs, unique talents, passions, and interests, one that touches and teaches a Learner as a whole in his entirety. Teaching and Learning is a Social Activity. The current craze of Automated Teaching with computers and programs replacing Human Teachers is all the more damaging as it has taken away the human touch, the social context and the creativity in delivering a curated learning experience. Teaching is hence a design.

A curated learning experience that has the following might as well be the solution:

Learning How to Learn – In times of rapid change in an uncertain future, the most valuable skill would be learning how to learn rather than simply reciting a set of facts and procedures.

Learning and Living as a Community – Parents, Teachers and Community must collaborate to teach each child under their care. Learning should bring Joy and Growth. Learning with a constructivist approach allows children to build their learning by making meaning in relation to the interaction between their experiences and their ideas. This will change the Chalk and Talk Classrooms to become grounds of Doing and Learning, of continuous development.

When this learning is applied to issues of local, global and cultural significance and improves the experiences of the community as a whole within the school and outside, it develops empathy and a sense of Giving.  

While the collaborative approach allows them to recognize, understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, the Community Based Learning Approach also allows the children to communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences by engaging in open, appropriate and effective interactions across cultures.

Learner Centric Approach- Allowing a student to select what she likes to study increases engagement, facilitates deeper learning as it is more likely to align with their own interests and goals. This enables children to obtain core knowledge and skills across a range of subjects while promoting enthusiasm and greater organization, communication, and evaluation.

Strong Cultural and Value Based Expectations- Raising children having a bond with their local culture and values keep them humble and grounded. It allows them to fly high, explore and learn but also return back to their roots, their comfort zones. The social construct, food, music, language, etc., is embedded well and learning is more relevant and close to their hearts. When children are raised thus it is more probable that they will take action for collective well-being and sustainable development both locally and globally while respecting the diversity of people around them.

Skill Based Learning- Helps children master vocational skills along with the life experiences thus putting together a Toolkit for Life. Children experiencing small vocational courses first hand and seeing Occupational Environments and speaking to employees allows children to plan ahead and also match their passions to their careers – one of the sure shot ways to have a successful long career!

Spiritual Connect- The moral growth of children has to match the vast strides in progress in other areas. Children raised focusing on the holistic growth of mind, body and spirit, will be able to “Thrive” better in the changing world. Mediation and Spiritual Discussions will allow children to explore deeper and higher dimensions of human resources so they can successfully work for the fulfilment of their ideal dreams.

Character Building- While the above happens, what builds alongside is a strong Character for Work and Life environments that the children will face in the future. In a self driven approach children learn important skills like self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, gratitude, forgiveness, responsible decision-making, perseverance and self-control that can improve their health, academic achievement, and happiness in life.

In summary the Industry needs people who can solve problems, stay on task, and adapt well. Success in today’s world puts a higher premium on character qualities.

And that is not going to come from the current Academics only Approach sitting behind individual desks and learning to take their individual exam. It is the perfect combination of Skilling and Character Building – the “double helix” of education, one that has our current Knowledge+Testing approach as a subset.

We are here at the brink of a Change. We have no option but to catch up. If we can, then we can ride the wave. Else it’s a silent way to the Bottom.

Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970) posited that “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.

chetana keni

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