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Reforms in education: A sine qua non

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As pointed out by the legendry Henry Ford, “Education is pre-eminently a matter of quality and not amount.” But this turns out somewhat as a paradox to what the present education system demands from us and what it actually provides. The relics from the past help us trace through the evolution of education, honestly a bad evolution. The lexicon of modern education has a constitution of words and phrases like rote learning, homework, not-so-frequent contacts with nature, a little holistic development etc. You might get a tone of criticism and complete dissent to education here, but this is backed up by evidences, squeezed from the past and still dwelling in the present.

Let’s finally trace the evolution of education system in India after much denunciation. This article provides an insight to the ancient systems of education in India, the theories on the idealistic perspective of education by legendary thinkers, the evolution of education through British rule and then ultimately, the crevices in the present system of education on a positive note, asking us to Catechize the present system.

The foundation of education was bolstered up with the establishment of oral and visual education when sages narrated tales of history, statecraft, knowledge, astrology, scriptural grasp. This was simply passed on from one generation to the other, complementary with the sensitivity towards nature and geography as it evolved. This gives us an inkling to the type of umbrella development that children received. Polishing it further, came up the concept of ‘Gurukuls’ where the teacher directly taught either in his monastery or a community temple, this wasn’t just circumscribed to the knowledge of scriptures, but children were trained about true human behaviour, you could hardly ever see any type of violation or humiliation in the ancient society and maybe that was why we never required any happiness index there. The subjects weren’t limited to just philosophy or rote learning, there was real application, something that we literally yearn to include in our curricula today.

There was learning among, learning with and learning for nature, but let us ask ourselves and maybe the authorities governing us, do we have an ‘n’ for newfangled learning or an ‘n’ for narrow learning? The basic gist of education and learning floated in the corridors of legendary universities like the Takshashila, Nalanda and definitely the Benarus Hindu university. Indian grammarians like the panini with their bulky knowledge and demeanor have evolved out from inside these institutions, known for their teacher prowess but a matter of “quality” and not “quantity” this wasn’t just confined to children of one class, this was education that provided knowledge to generations. Macaulay’s theory of disregarding traditional scriptures and education system was described as a beautiful tree that was destroyed under the British rule.

This gradually led to the concept of rote learning becoming more and more prevalent and soon this trend was embossed into the minds and attitudes of educational institutions where imparting education became merely a business, where children recognized the benefits of just mugging up, where true ideas had no venerable place, and where doing homework became even more important than the personal development of the child, something that was well awarded with marks, instead of knowledge. The emergence of cognitivism, constructivism and behaviorism were introduced for the benefits of learners, but the interpretation or the implementation rather was lukewarm.

Also, this wasn’t just the beginning of the fading away of human and cultural values, but an inclination towards what really was not the forte of a human mind, a pliable and a dynamic one at that. Modern education has vehemently failed to realise the long term effects this system might have on the future of children. At a time, when people are not running for interests but for universities, we ought to rethink where we are failing.

The theory of modern education is arbitrary, not flexible. It is undeniable that schools and educational institutions have today become the most supreme areas of a child’s development, but there’s a lot to it that needs to be taken into spotlight. Schools, knowingly or unknowingly synonimise mental development with how much load a child can bear, and at what age. It is not the result of a board exam on your marksheet that measures your intellect, but your insight over things.

Unfortunately, the present education system makes us realize that at an age, where already, at least once, we have fallen victims to our own expectations and that of our mark-sheets, for instance, is not what we really need. This paints a dire picture of the education system and necessitates the need for reform: a sine qua non.

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