The Challenge of our Education System

Sir Ken Robinson in his pertinently titled Ted Talk, “Schools Kill Creativity” declares “All kids have tremendous talents — and we squander them pretty ruthlessly.” (Read – ‘in schools!’)
Seth Godin in his Stop Selling Dreams quips: “The current (educational) structure, which seeks low-cost uniformity that meets minimum standards, is killing our economy, our culture, and us.”
Godfrey Canada in his Ted Education Talk, “Our Failing schools: Enough is Enough”, asks vehemently, “Why is it that when we had rotary phones, when we were having folks being crippled by polio, that we were teaching the same way then that we’re doing right now?”

ted_schoolskillcreativity-800x332

Many thinkers have gone hammer and tongs about the ails of the present day education system. I think this is especially because the percentage of very passionate teachers in our educational system is miniscule. Therefore the killing of creativity.  Therefore the mediocrity. Therefore the one-size-fits-all approach. And therefore we don’t create thinkers, creators and problem solvers but create conformists in plenty.

Today while at a our corporate strategy session we were overwhelmed at the requirement of the number of passionate teachers we will need in the next ten years – a modest 320,000! We find it difficult to fine one good hand – how will we find so many inspirational teachers? This set me thinking.

When we look at schools around us, there is one thing that simply bamboozles me. In many of the Indian curriculum schools, we plan career mapping sessions for our pupils. We introduce them to people from different walks of life. Doctors and Engineers abound the list – the Indian parent clientele have not outgrown that, sadly. Computer specialists, Researchers and Scientists also are not left far behind. Some of us do have a passion to bring in those from other professions – from designers to pilots, psychologists to lawyers, and representatives from the Armed Forces and the Services – IAS, IPS, IFS and the journalists. Some of us venture a little more further and bring those from off beat professions to expose those to impressionable minds – singers, actors, dancers, forensic experts (we did this at our school) and even conservationists. However, do we ever speak about our own profession, Teaching? No wonder then that even a teeny weeny number (not even one per cent of the total number of Class XII students) ever want to try their hand at one of the noblest of professions: Teaching! Whom can we blame but ourselves???

Today Teaching is taken up not by the passionate and those who have an aptitude for facilitating learning. It is embraced eagerly by those who want to have a comfortable job.  Your children can be in the same school; you will have the same holidays as your children and (a candidate at an interview candidly put it across to me), “In which other job will I have a two month vacation in summer and nearly a month long in winter?” (That the said candidate got rejected immediately is beside the point!).

To all passionate teachers out there: Can we spell out the pleasures and joys of the teaching to our pupils? We must be advocates and advertisers for our own profession. I am ashamed to admit, I am also one to be blamed. For it is most rightly said, “Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” I guess I will start with my own school. Correction starts from me.

Resources and links:
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/stopstealingdreamsscreen.pdf
http://www.ted.com/talks/geoffrey_canada_our_failing_schools_enough_is_enough.html
Doodle Courtesy: http://sunnibrown.com/doodlerevolution/showcase/ted-schools-kill-creativity/

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