Article written by Prasad DhumalCEO and Co-founder Mindseed
While the world has changed and the change of pace is increasing every day, not much has changed in the way we used to deliver education 150 years back. Back then, the objective of education was to train people to work in a factory which explains why we put students in straight rows nice and neat, tell them to raise their hand if they want to speak, give them a short break to eat and tell them what to think for eight hours a day. Oh! And not to forget, make them compete to get a grade A, a letter that determines product quality.
Well, this was the need of the hour during the industrial age of mid-nineteenth century. However as the world has progressed from industrial age to the age of knowledge and now moving in conceptual age, we really don’t need to make robots. Today, we need people who think creativity, innovatively, critically and interdependently with the ability to learn faster and connect.
Every scientist will tell you no two brains are the same and every parent with two or more children will confirm that claim. Albert Einstein believed that everyone’s a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing that it is stupid; however our current education system still treats students like cookie-cutter frames and gives one-size-fits-all solution.
If we observe closely, infrastructure is one the major bottlenecks for this factory model of learning. For years, teachers have been standing in front of 20 or more kids, each one having different strengths, different needs, different gifts and different dreams, to learn the same stuff at the same pace in a same way. This never really works as advanced kids get bored and tune out, lagging ones get lost and funnel out and very soon half of the class is not paying attention. Since the rise of personal computers and technology, schools have invested in classroom technology like smart boards etc. but nothing much has changed in the way teachers deliver education.
So what is the problem and what can be the solution to this alarming situation?
The need of the past was to take education beyond riches and knowledgeable. The idea was to take it to masses and bring all to a level. In the process of doing so, standardized systems were created and with the help of printing press, standardized books were published and distributed. The whole premise of that system was to disseminate the information and bring everybody to a standard level through standard milestones. That’s why we have standard 1 and standard 2 and so on.
In this changing world, every child needs personalized education to be able to learn at its own pace and gain mastery. In order to move away from the conventional mass delivery of instruction, we need to create an infrastructure to observe and understand the profile of every child with an ability to provide personalized and customized solutions. While this may sound like a dream, several countries like Finland and Singapore are doing impressive things and outperforming every other country.
Further, the system needs to move beyond preconceived notions of student, teacher and school, choosing instead to use concepts such as learners, guides, advisors, mentors, domain experts and learning environments. We should leverage the potential of widely distributed technologies, such as cell phones and laptops, to disrupt old ways of learning. Virtual classrooms, online coursework, e-books, multimedia, multi-user games, interactive forums, and social-networking sites can enhance each individual’s learning experience.
Personalizing education in a conventional brick and mortar system is still a challenge and only a handful of educators are scratching the surface. The nation requires more heads to find a way around!