Friday, December 26, 2014

The Seven Myths of Highly Ineffective Education Systems – Myth # 1 of 7

Or
The Seven Myths That Make Education Difficult To Improve

Have you ever had the experience of failing to open a lock till you discovered that you were using the wrong key? That's a little like discovering after years or decades of work that perhaps some of the things we've been taking for granted all along don't necessarily hold true. There are probably many such notions, but here are what seem to be the seven most crucial ones. Each one of these is elaborated upon in a separate post, and followed by a note on what we can do - all over the next eight days.

The Seven Myths:

1. Children are homogenous
·      All must learn the same thing, in the same way, with the same material.
·      All must learn the same amount
If someone falls behind, something must be wrong with them – they don’t conform to the norm!

2. All children must attend school every day

3. There is one form of knowledge and it belongs to the ‘educated classes’.

4. Students learn mainly by listening to the teacher.

5. Teachers can improve by following instructions given to them by their seniors.

6. Stakeholders are concerned about education (as educationists understand it)

7. The education system exists to improve education.


Myth # 1 – Children are homogenous
·      All must learn the same thing, in the same way, with the same material.
·      All must learn the same amount
It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? What daily observation and commonsense (backed by vast, vast amounts of in-depth research) tells us is that children are very different from each other. That it is indeed difficult to expect all of them to learn the same amount in a year, that all ‘averages’ are mere guess work, certainly in terms of subject-related expectations after the early years. In fact, even the idea of putting children into classes or grades may not have sufficient basis – it is more management friendly than learning friendly. The question is not ‘How can the teacher teach if all children have to learn differently?’ but ‘How can naturally diverse children learn if the teacher teaches the same thing and in the same way to all?’

As a result of all this, if some children fall behind, it is assumed something must be wrong with them – they don’t conform to the norm! The ones falling behind are actually often those from under-resourced backgrounds – because the ‘norm’ and design of education is such that you are likely to do better if you are from an economically better background. Which is why it is actually news if a child from a poor family does well in a board exam!

And of course if you happen not to be able to learn the way in which you are being taught (you might be from a privileged family) even then something is wrong with you (though less wrong than if you were poor). You may not like school, but you can be sure the school does not like you too.




This myth is so common, so prevalent that it’s hard to imagine there might be other ways… what do you think?



Tomorrow, Myth # 2 of 7

1 comment:

Akshat Tewari said...

It reminds me of a poem by Rumi:

God never gave
His bigger beasts a sting
He gave it to a bee
With an invisible wing

And the skill of storing
Sweetness in the hive.
The silkworm spins its gossamer
In order to survive

However large, the elephant
Has no such subtle skill
God gives to each his powers
His wonders to fulfill.