When did the first world war occur?
What was Constantinople formerly known as?
When was the battle of Plassey fought?
We have such an obsession with facts that it puts our memory to the test. Our examinations in subjects like history and geography like to encourage rote learning and reproduction. Students who are good at cramming find it easy to vomit it all on the answer paper. Memory is important but it should not form the basis of our education .
Is this real education? Or should our children be tested on their understanding of the subject, thinking skills, teamwork, speech and drama, elocution and other skills that may come more useful in life.
In some schools, teachers are given an answer sheet to mark and sometimes answers that are different but correct are marked as wrong for the only reason that they do not match the answer sheet. Students are taught from a tender age to follow standard procedures, and even told to reproduce exactly from the book.
All this talk of developing creativity is just an eyewash. In true fact, few schools are taking the lead in inculcating and developing students who can think on their feet and out of the box.
Sometimes in life it helps to unlearn all the things that we have learnt, so that we do not hold preconceived notions in our mind when we are faced with problems. We can then think in our own unique way and find our own solution to problems.
Even in our everyday lives we have to remember so many things:
- Your wifes birthday (better not forget that unless you want to be ostracised)
- Your anniversary
- Your grocery list (don’t forget this either unless you like to do a second round of shopping)
- Your passwords (nowadays there are so many email accounts, online banking that there are so many passwords to remember)
- Appointments, schedules, meetings
Today there are so many gadgets that there is no need to exercise our memory. Our smartphones can manage all this information and we can retrieve all these at the tap of a finger.
Here is an interesting TED talk on how “Rote learning fragments the world”" by Sanjoy Mahajan:
A leader lives a life of purpose
Working from dawn to dusk
Serving the community
Living steadfast to ideals
Empowering the populace
Bringing education to them
A leader awakens the masses to
Truth, courage and love
A leader serves the needy
Cares for the orphan
Feeds the hungry and
Clothes the destitute
Breaking bonds of slavery
Ending years of servitude,
A leader frees society from
Fear,poverty and illusion
A leader leaves a legacy
By bringing lasting change
Knowledge breaks caged walls
A nation wakes up to freedom
© copyright skm, 6th July, 2011
Every time I see a child, I am amazed at their sense of wonder, curiosity and their insatiable thirst for knowledge. Leave a child alone with a toy and he/whe will have a great time…they are so immersed in the moment that nothing else matters. And if you snatch that toy from them, they will scream. Children live with so much energy and vigour that by the end of the day they have a sound sleep.
I think the schools of today make education a boring experience. The rote, bookish knowledge that we gain in schools cannot substitute for life-skills. What use is an education in the classroom if it does not teach us to respect one another, if it cannot teach us basic courtesies, if it does not teach us empathy? What use is such an education if it does not inculcate in us the need to help one another. If all our education is just to get a job and earn a living then I think it does not serve its purpose.
Our education has not found a way of creating a fun environment wherein learning can become an enriching experience. Our classrooms like places of work make it mandatory for children to sit on desks and tables in a classroom. Wouldn’t a colourful place with lot of games, pictures make learning more enriching for children?
Today’s teenagers show total lack of basic courtesies – like offering seats to the elderly or pregnant women. They get involved in gangs and exhibit uncontrollable anger. This can be attributed to the lack of a well-rounded education. Our education has to instill the right values from early childhood. These values have to be reinforced at home too so that it becomes a part and parcel of growing up. If we have not learnt to wish our neighbour, to exchange pleasantries and enjoy living with people of different backgrounds then our education has not served its purpose.
In my view, our education should bring out the leadership quality in us. It should give us
.. the strength to act in accordance with your own values amidst obstacles
.. the sense of what is right
.. confidence and enthusiasm
True education should bring about social cohesion, communal harmony and entrepreneurship spirit. It should help us to unite for a common cause – like the alleviation of poverty, removing corruption and other social ills like gambling and addiction.
Ken Robinson on TED talks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY