Education

The importance of ‘Why’ question

The importance of ‘Why’ question
G S Madhav Rao
Young minds brimming with curiosity are being trapped in the knowledge cramming trends. Can we expand our teaching capabilities and embrace the new age learning?
Our schools kill creativity. Our education doesn’t employ the sense organs that the early man (includes both man and woman) used effectively to collect data, analyse, infer, learn, create and innovate. They were parents of early development of several branches of knowledge that were needed for human survival and quality of life.

The need is to facilitate cognitive and key skills including ME skills-intrapersonal intelligence, WE skills (I and You)- interpersonal relations-people skills through increased social interactions, communication and collaboration, Why and how skills, I will and I can skills- gaining intrinsic motivation, creativity, design, innovation and walking through problems and finding solutions, adaptability – to new and challenging changes including if I fail what do I do, what if skills -thinking of possibilities, use creativity and innovation to find new possibilities.

I watched Grade three students involved in theme teaching where they were discussing about some inventors. When asked to vote for what they would consider times of great inventions- early man’s times or now, most voted for present times, I was surprised when one girl said early times. I asked her to tell me why she thought so. The little one said that early men and women had no previous knowledge of any research, innovation or tools like we have today, still they made new things. We know that it is in the early years that children are besieged with WHY questions. Full of curiosity and inquisitiveness, they seek answers. Do we ignore this interest to find or discover in children? Yes, we strap them and teach knowledge!

We now know for sure that such education will not empower our children with creativity and skills that will be most needed to wobble and stay in the face of disappearing jobs and redundant skills.

There are some children (countable on fingers) external to school system who attained extraordinary proficiencies and became famous by creating and innovating in the areas of their interest. There are many more in our schools waiting to be Ramans and Hargobinda Khuranas. They need new opportunity; new way of learning.

New Paradigm
Several studies point out a shift from activities that require only basic cognitive skills to those that use higher cognitive skills. Indeed, “the decline in work activities that mainly require basic cognitive skills is the largest.”

“Demand for higher cognitive skills such as creativity, critical thinking and decision making, and complex information processing, will grow through 2030 at cumulative double-digit rates.”

“The growing need for creativity is seen in many activities across jobs.”

When we talk of creativity, we essentially see it possible only in science and technology. Not true, critical thinking and creativity goes across all-languages, humanities, arts, business, marketing etc.

Future needs:

IQ SKILLS (Cognitive)
1. Deep learning- much more than memorization with ability to self- learning;
2. Owning knowledge- more than google-Knowledge; It is interdisciplinary and the new knowledge that is created and owned by individual(s)
3. Creativity and innovation. It’s about imagination and making abstract to real
4. Mastery of technological including digital skills
5. Problem Solving proficiency

KEY SKILLS (Non-cognitive skills)

  1. Adaptability: A skill that has to be learnt in young age
    Adaptability is a critical quality that employers seek in new age employees. With rapid changes in technology, diversity and society, companies need employees who are open to new ideas, flexible enough to work through challenging issues, and generally able to cope when things don’t go as planned.
  2. Relationship management that includes Emotional quotient, empathy, resilience, social, collaborative and communication skills, require for leadership, people management and for collaborative efforts.

Skill Based Learning

How should schools change
Fundamental to initiate any transformation is to understand that;

  • Syllabus completion and success at examinations should be by-products to learning than being the first choice.
  • Schools are masters who can lead innovation in teaching and learning till Grade-8.
  • Acquiring evolving curriculum, initiating innovative approach, using of creative strategies and research to facilitate new learning and teaching is the need and profound responsibility.
  • It is equally important to apportion 25% of time for engaging our children in creative and skills- based activities- different from sit, listen, look and learn; central to the core is why and how questions that children answer through exploration and discovery.
  • Collaborative projects seek critical thinking to find solutions to most difficult problems and provide opportunity to enhance social, people management and communicative skills.
  • Understand what a child from birth to 5 years, from 6th to 8 and finally by 14 years can learn and do- in fact become empowered.
  • Understand that teacher’s role must change from being master of textbook knowledge and exam expert to self- learner, researcher and thinker.
  • Understand that Schools should invest in knowledge and skill infrastructure to stay above competition- redundancy and complacency kill institutions.
  • On this Dr Spencer Johnson’s ‘Out of the Maze’- a sequel to his earlier ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ is a revealing rendition to what if our believes are wrong.
Who moved my Cheese?

The belief that the maze was treasure of cheese (a good job, loving relationship, money, possessions, good health or peace of mind) was shattered when cheese disappeared threatening the very survival. That was a change and challenge!

Our children must learn to move out of maze and be ready for their future challenges and times unpredictable!

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