Is an adult a reflection of the experiences he or she has accumulated during their childhood? We generally tend not to associate the two in a coherent meaningful way, but recent research in neuroscience tends to point in that direction – that we weigh our current options with the network of connections built by our past experiences. So one of the questions that led to this article is ‘how can we help create meaningful experiences for children during their formative years that would help them be valuable patrons of the community and society they find themselves in.
Education is a lifelong process and the process is as important as the end result. Life itself is a journey of personal growth and development and therefore the classroom curriculum should reflect the world around us. It should help the learner understand what’s going on around him/her. Education should be about studying to learn and not learning to study. If we can help a learner understand the process of learning to learn, then, as teachers we can don the role of facilitators and help in truly enhancing learning outcomes. This takes more precedence now than ever before as we move into a decade that does not resemble anything that we have witnessed in the past. This raises the question, how do we prepare our students for a future that at best seems ‘unpredictable’ and at its worst ‘alien’. Education, just like us, needs to be dynamic, responsive, and open to new ideas and change.
Schooling is a very small part of the education process. Schooling today doesn’t prepare you for life outside of school but for subjects and examinations. Learning in schools tends to happen in silos although real life does not work that way. We have become an over-schooled and undereducated society, and this is something that needs to change. Education needs to help learners self-actualize their potential. Education systems should impart social and relationship skills to individuals while also equipping them with skills to regulate their emotions and resilience. Values such as integrity and rigour too need to be inculcated. Education should help learners navigate the world that is in front of them.
In trying to answer the above-postulated points, I find asking myself whether our current model of education is geared towards the (w)holistic development of an individual or does it have a very narrow focus? The purpose of the education system should be to challenge you to an appropriate level. This will vary from learner to learner and the robustness of an education system can be gauged by whether it can accommodate individual preferences while not losing sight of the larger picture. Education is like a tasting menu and therefore traditional education is not all bad. It is a platform for you to understand what suits you and what doesn’t. We don’t know what our best is unless we stumble upon it, either intentionally or by chance. Learning in the classroom should facilitate learning outside the classroom. The accelerating pace of technology in the 21st century and the disruption it is causing in varied fields across the spectrum should be a valued indicator of the significance of ‘learning how to learn’. In the current context, machines seem to be learning from their mistakes and experiences and performing better at many tasks than humans. This learning gap in humans has come about because of how we decry failures without realising the important role it has to play in helping us be a better version of ourselves. This is one of the instances where the focus on the Five Areas of Development plays a significant role. Rather than focus merely on the Cerebral development, which is equally important, a similar substance is placed on areas such as Emotional, Physical, Spiritual and Social. This ensures that a learner is able to cope with success, failures, stress, collaboration and negotiation.
This brings us to the need for each one of us to come up with a personal philosophy. Education should empower children to think about their personal philosophy. We need to make the idea of having a personal philosophy appealing. Our personal philosophy is dictated by our experiences, geographical location, values and the people in our lives. There are no limited elements to developing a personal philosophy – The most important aspect for us is that we should have a philosophy. We need to ensure that learners develop positive personal philosophies and apply this through day-to-day life. Developing personal philosophy at a later stage is very disheartening; it should be developed from the start. This is one of the more genuine ways in which we can help create meaningful experiences for children. For. a child who has understood and internalised the rationale and the meaning of his or her personal philosophy, her action will stem from an elevated thought process. A series of such well thought out and acted upon processes will help in ensuring that that child grows up to be a committed and contributing member of the community he finds himself in. A collection of such individuals in a community will tend to raise the game of the community to greater heights.
While we are thinking about the changes needed in the education sector, we must also think about how prepared the world is to accept these learners. By age 18, you should be able to get into the world of work if you want to. The existing scenario is vastly different. Not only do learners who graduate from institutes of higher education not get jobs but those who do not have the skills. This results in the organisation employing them having to skill them appropriately. Over the course of the past year, many companies including the world’s biggest have started employing learners who do not have a degree. These learners have the necessary skills that the organization values and hence prove to be a bigger asset to them than someone who has a four-year degree but lacks the necessary skills be it social, emotional, physical, spiritual or cerebral skills. Hence, the need for a new learning framework that helps actualise a learners’ potential and help them be the best that they can be.
The author has conceived a learning framework that has received international acclaim and if interested, you can read more about it here – https://hundred.org/en/innovations/5-areas-of-development