It is said that we are all victims of our own ignorance. Those that will venture to go out and discover themselves and their full potential will experiment with things that are completely out of the way, away from the mainstream.
Today after having accepted the first batch of the students at Auro University, I want to share my experience of living life on the edge in the field of academics. It has not been an easy journey but then I was not looking for an easy way out on anything in life. I have been a lone fighter hoping to make a difference in the field of education. I had all the opportunities to join the mainstream and become part of the government sponsored education mafia. Offers came to me to be part of committees and commissions but I refused to sell myself to the status quo. I was branded as arrogant by those who sold themselves at a cost that is national loss for the generation X.
Sometimes it seems that I am fighting a losing battle but there is something within me that says that the whole world rest on hope and if I give up hope there will be no change. I introduced new methods of teaching and learning along with colleagues who believed in the philosophy of transforming the educational landscape of this country. There has been a lot of success in the new models that were introduced. But still there is a long way to go to make it a popular means through which education reforms can be introduced.
Even today I find myself fighting a losing battle but my enthusiasm and energy are as high as they were 14 years back when I returned to India from the United States. The biggest challenge today in education is the commitment of the teachers. While saying that I would also like to put on record that there are still some very good teachers left in this country. However, most of the teachers seem to have taken the easy way of considering teaching as a job to make a living. Unfortunately this is very destructive to the whole culture of academics. We as teachers have to carry the responsibility of training the next generation of leaders of this country. This requires teachers to go beyond the call of duty as they are bestowed the responsibility for the future of India.
Over the last several years I have been trying so hard to convince policymakers to look for new solutions to old problems in our education system, but they don’t see that there is any problem at all. I am listing the steps that need to be introduced in our educational systems to make it more robust and to align it to the realities of the new economy.
1. Move away from percentage system of examination to credit based examination. The completion of a degree program should be based on completion of the required credits rather than the number of years of study. This will allow hard working students to complete their degrees in less time than the normal time it takes today.
2. Introduce general education as a requirement in all degree programs irrespective of the area of study. It is important that students have a good understanding of areas such as Indian culture, India’s Intellectual traditions, History, sciences and mathematics. These provide students a holistic academic experience.
3. Let us get over from the concept of teaching, nothing can be taught today. We have shift gears from teaching to learning and this can be achieved only if we engage the students in a learning process. Students need to learn by doing things rather than to hear lectures in a classroom environment.
4. We need to experiment with new system of examination. Do we know why we are examining students; the need to focus on application of fundamental principles should be emphasized in today’s environment. We as teachers have to accountable and transparent. Students should have the right to see their examination scripts and get feedback on what went wrong so that the same mistakes are not made again. They need to be given an opportunity to learn even from the mistakes they make in an examination.
5. New methods of delivery are more required today than ever before. Hearing, seeing and doing have to be incorporated in our educational delivery in the classroom environment. We are not pushing our students to think, we are just forcing information into their heads which is already available on the internet.
6. Teachers need to walk the talk. They are good at telling what are the right things to do but very poor at being a role model to students. It is all visible to the students in the world we live in.
There are so many other issues that can be discussed but I will hold it for right now. I will still continue to live life on the edge and keep trying to make that small difference that we all need to make. As teachers it is our responsibility to ensure that we have done enough for our children and that they will be able to lead a good life when we are not there.
It is ok to live life on the edge in whatever you do in your life…. Just keep making that small difference..