In the recent years, the enrolment in the schools saw a steep rise but the quality of education continued to go down. The revelations of 2014 Annual Status of Education Report, ASER 2014 are altogether haunting. The report reveals that every second student of Class 5 th in the rural region of the nation with more than 70% literacy rate is not able to comprehend the text of a Class three levels below.
There are two ways to look at the problem. First, the students are seldom motivated to be in the schools in an active learning mode. They are not given the opportunity to express themselves in their own pristine form. This is the reason our buds start to despise the schools. We as the teachers and the policy-makers force our fixed values on them which often results in the failure of education. John Holt in his book “How Children Learn” says, “Children come to school curious, (but) within few years most of the curiosities die or become silent”. This is an obvious consequence of our traditionalist approach to education wherein education is deemed as a mere unidirectional movement of information from a teacher to a child.
Second, our teachers haven’t the guts to be dynamic in the static policy framework of our state. The teachers need to realise every policy the state makes and throws on them is not always going to pay. The policies make their way inscrutably into schools. The problem is that the states in the east adopt the policy of the west after its failure in the west. Similarly, India follows the suit. The 1.25-billion- strong nation borrows the policy from the US after it fails to deliver there. Here our valley sticks to one that fails in the rest of India. Such is the condition our system is afflicted with.
Under Right to Education Act, 2009, the policy of ‘No detention’ was followed. Though 18 states, after a bitter experience with ‘No Detention Policy’, suggested to revoke it, India is in no mood to dissolve the same. TRS Subramanian panel suggested for the discontinuation of the policy as it is responsible for the waning of the quality-education in schools. The fact of matter is not every policy being formulated by the state is sure to be fruitful. The teachers have to keep the point in mind.
To me, a better teacher isn’t the one who sticks to the system but the one who is a better judge; to judge every policy with his own experience and come up with the pros and cons of each policy and decide whether to implement it. A better teacher is the one who is synchronous with the system and simultaneously engaged in punctuating it and struggling against it.
As a teacher in the high and higher secondary schools, one can easily assess the wear-n- tear the no detention policy has subjected our system to. How it has compromised the quality of education and proved to be a pernicious parasite eating away the core essence of the education is clear to everyone. More than 50% students getting admitted into the schools for secondary education aren’t able to either write their name or spell it properly, thanks to the mass-promotion which produces thousands of confused students annually who aren’t in a position to classify themselves into the educated lot.
In the current era, language competency is more important than information. You can feed up yourself with every kind of information if your understanding of language is fair. I personally suggest, in the primary institutes of education, the thrust should not be on the learning of the social sciences or any other discipline, but on engendering the language- competence in the child and an interest in the understanding of the nature. The child will somehow unlearn all the humanities when he grows up and search for his own interests later on.
As a teacher you can diagnose early if your student is good at academics. We have seen so many people achieving greatness who were creative enough to skip their academics to concentrate on their skill, becoming successful artists and entrepreneurs. You have diversity of students with a variety of talents which don’t necessarily superimpose with the curriculum set by the educational boards. A teacher’s role must be to choose the role of the child he can play. Education is not only about books and pens, it is also about skills and brushes!
As teachers, the people are always caught up in the thought of displaying their supremacy over the children. At times you need to show but not always. Not only our teachers but our officers haven’t yet shunned that sense of supremacy over teachers. On inspection of the institutions, most of their time is spared on lecturing the teachers about the dress code and posture to be in while in front of an officer. Had they spared the same time to reconsider the problems of teaching-community and the learners, our system would have witnessed the much awaited change.
The teachers in order to be good ones need to be better friends and empathetic to their students. Their role has to be flexible. They have to come out of the mentality wherein their ego doesn’t allow them to shake hand with their students, hug them or play with them. We live an age of new values wherein the teachers have to play a dual role – to conserve the conventional values and inculcate the new ones.
The educator should not turn into a religious preacher. Not only our children but our adults are no longer interested in listening to mullahs. But in the period of cultural erosion we dwell, we have no alternate choice. The teachers have to find innovative ways to motivate their students towards their religion no matter what sect they follow. You don’t have to lecture them with all the religious stuff but your duty must be to motivate them to turn to religion in a
system which doesn’t provide for it.
One important observation is that the teachers set ideals for students — – Zakir Naik, Tagore, Einstein, Mother Teresa, etc. This is a folly on part of teachers. Look at the children as the ideals. When we teach them to follow any personality and be like him/her, we tend to lose the potential personality who could become the ideal of some different art or sort for others.We can’t a fix a rectangular brick into a spherical frame.
The need is, our policy-makers in education should consult the teachers before framing any policy. The teachers should be given a free hand in choosing what is good or bad for their students. A policy can be fruitful in urban suburbs but the same can’t be successful in rural regions. The educators are to be educated. The education of the teachers is necessary though tough owing to the fact that their ideology is ripe and resistant to the change by thetime they become teachers.
By Aarif Quadir