Conversations on Teaching and Learning in a Networked World
Those who have read John Holt can appreciate How Children Fail and How Children Learn in school. But now under the dins of globalisation and the rehtoric of Millenium Development Indian schools, mostly those run by governments, seem as though meant to fail its children, both in spite of and because of the implementation of RTE (Right to Education).
How ? The problems range from shortage of teachers per grade to the relevance of the contents, from proper training of the teachers to the language of teaching in particular case of tribal children, from well-planned transactions in the classrooms to administrative supervision of the schools, from adequate amenities vailable to the children to proper conduct of the teachers. The worst losers in the process, of course, are the children from the lower strata of the society. All these are true for both secondary as well as elementary level.
I live and work in Odisha and believe the situation is almost same in all states except a few like kerala. The trend is distressing with no sign of improvement in near future. I invite the readers to react if they think otherwise and share their concern if they have similar experiences in their respective places.
I thin everyone wants our education system to work better and produce more modern equipped students, but its mostly talk. Teaching is hard and until we start paying teachers more money, less talented teachers will remain. Most of the time, any emphasis on education is mostly just talk and little in the way of change and improvement
We have to realize how important education is for the future of our students exiting school. How a difference of a few marks can have profoud effects on their future (program/job choice, etc). We as educators are there to make the most effective use of time in the classroom to educate and prepare our students for the future. We have to focus on our jobs, not extraneous activities and material. We have to condition and prepare our charges for the "real world." All adults have to be realistic with ourselves and our children and not lead ourselves or them with false hopes. For example: no matter how much I try, I do not have the mental capacity to be a doctor, nor the physical capacity to be a gymnast. We all have our place in the world and we have to accept it. We all can't be brain surgeons. We also have to restructure our educational system to begin guiding students in the general direction of what their vocation would most likely be. For example: I work with students who would be suited for the trades and would benefit from an education guiding them into suitable vocations beginning in grade nine. The education we are forcing them through is highly irrelevant to the prospective vocations most of them will enter. Why do we keep doing this. Let them start training to be an electrician, carpenter, etc, and begin on the job training as early as sixteen. This would provide them with an earlier start in life regarding wage earning, paying taxes, and working towards a sustainable future for themselves.
The more academically inclined could continue with formalized schooling in the direction of their prospective careers.
There is nothing wrong with working in the trades, the service industry, or any meaningful job.
I have a basic handyman service to supplement my wages. I find no shame in changing a septic tank pump, changing a light switch, or using a shovel. The job has to get done.
We have to realistically and objectivally look at what the world is like and prepare our children for a smooth entry into that world, (culturally, academically, morally...).
I already know that my five year old will probably not be a doctor or a judge and I will not give her false hope that she will be. Time will tell,
A good earth based book that should be a must read for parents and educators alike is "The Narcissism Epidemic" by Jean Twenge. She really helps put things into perspective.
Sorry for the lond dissertation. I could go on and on.
Thanks James for your realistic comments. Choosing a vocation early in life is far beter than chasing an uncertain dream. But think for a moment why do people want their children to study on and on for some job like doctor, engineer, professor, admoinistrator etc. ? It's because of the lure of high salaray, priviledged position without labour and power to dominate. The system has lowered the importance and money value of jobs like that of acarpenter, a plumber, a sewage cleaner or the like. As if a section ofpeople want the society to remain unchanged and unequal. If a person by choosing a simple trade and a simple life suffer the curse of scarcity, discrimination and domination by the rich and powerful how does he/she reconcile with it?