Are schools restricting knowledge?

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Is our education system really educating our students? It sure equips them to ace exams, but is that the only goal of education? asks A. Hari, as he bemoans this obsession with exams to the detriment of diversified learning.

AT present our schools are functioning almost like a factory, equipping students with required skills to only get the maximum possible marks in the examinations. Very often, we hear the news that even students with top ranks are finding it difficult to get admission in the colleges of their choice and later, suitable jobs.

We must understand that companies do not give any importance to the academic performance of candidates during recruitment, and they assess the standards of students by conducting their own examinations. Even admission to reputed institutions like the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) is being done only by conducting a separate entrance examination.

The top ranks have been secured by students only due to their ability to perform well in the examinations. The academic performance by no means reflects the knowledge level of students. The present schooling system has forced students to totally concentrate their efforts on scoring high marks and as such the knowledge they have acquired is mostly restricted to the contents of text books. This article discusses the need for revamping the concept of school curriculum in view of the dynamic changes in the trends of education.

Why must a student learn outside the curriculum?

A decade ago, students had time to read novels, non-fiction books etc., when they had spare time. Now they don’t have any time left to engage in such casual reading. Their reading is only restricted to their curriculum, that too only the portions from where the questions are expected! Great inventions have happened due to casual reading or exposure to related or unknown subjects.

Either the students do not have time or they do not have access to resources which will facilitate their learning in subjects which they like. If a student is interested in ‘space science’ during his schooling, it will be very difficult for him to get required information from the school. If a student is interested to read further in a particular subject beyond curriculum, he must be encouraged and facilitated to do so. Additional credits must be given for such attempts. Interested students may be allowed to study a few additional subjects which may or may not be related to their curriculum.

Make education user friendly

A revision of the curricula, keeping pace with the tremendous progress of knowledge is of utmost importance. Very often we find committees are formed for revision of curriculum and only a few minor changes are announced by them after a great delay. After objections from stake holders, the so called ‘tough’ portions are deleted from the syllabus. A complete revamping of the curriculum duly involving students and parents is very much required in tune with international standards.

Other changes required are:

  • Be child centered: A child centered and activity- based process of learning should be adopted at the primary stage. Modern curriculum should carefully consider the specific need, interest and capacity of the learner in different stages of development while framing the syllabus.
  • Need for a flexible approach: Higher educational programmes have to be redesigned to meet the growing demands of specialisation, to provide flexibility in the curriculum and facilitate a combination of courses from different streams. Students may be allowed to read a combination of subjects from science and commerce streams. Easier migration must be possible between streams. This will ensure that students learn what they like in their higher studies. Such flexibility will also ensure that there will not be any dropouts during studies.
  • Need for customising the curriculum: Some students may be weak in particular subjects and may perform exceedingly well in other subjects. In such cases, there is need for support with additional tutoring. Similarly, advanced lessons may be prescribed when a student performs outstandingly in any particular subject.
  • Be relevant to society: The curriculum has to be responsive to meet the needs and aspirations of a society. The concerns and priorities of the nation should, therefore, be suitably reflected in the curriculum at all levels. The curriculum should be varied according to the needs of the community in a specific region.
  • Need for inclusive curriculum: An inclusive curriculum is meant to afford all learners equal opportunities for lifelong education. Curriculum modification is necessary for learners with special needs even when an inclusive curriculum is being followed. Keeping the children with disabilities in mind while adapting the curriculum, changes in learning content, learning friendly environment, appropriate learning approach, adaptation in learning aid and evaluation should be done.
  • Need for updating knowledge: Earlier, text books used to be the only source of knowledge for students. The internet has made access to information very quick and real time. Efforts must be made to gather available resources on given topics and make it available to students, especially those who don’t have access to internet.

Education is much more than schooling and it’s an ongoing process. At present, the schooling revolves around the prescribed curriculum and the focus of teachers and students is restricted only to get maximum marks in the examinations. This situation must change.

I would like to leave you with this quote:

‘Thinking precedes literacy and numeracy, but nowhere in the curriculum is that recognised.’

– Mc Gavin, Glasgow University


A.Hari

A Hari

The writer works as Chief Commercial Inspector in Southern Railways. He wishes to project a positive image of Indian Railways through his blog www.indianrlynews.wordpress.com. He is passionate about inspiring youth through his website: www.inspireminds.in

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