Re­dis­cov­er­ing ed­u­ca­tors in the changed class­room and teach­ing environment

India Today - - EXPERT SPEAK - AMIT BHA­TIA Founder and CEO As­pire Hu­man Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment

For years, we have grown on the im­ages of Guru-shishya en­gaged in teach­ing-learn­ing un­der the learn­ing tree. From times im­memo­rial, from Dronacharya to Rad­hakr­ish­nan, we have revered and ro­man­ti­cised the su­per­hero sta­tus of a great teacher. Their stu­dents in turn made the teach­ers proud, giv­ing the men­tor-mentee re­la­tion­ships an al­lur­ing charm.

To­day In­dia has 320 mil­lion stu­dents in over 1 mil­lion schools, 30,000 col­leges and 500 uni­ver­si­ties. The gross en­roll­ment ra­tio in col­leges is a measly 12.4 per cent. Em­ploy­a­bil­ity rate is es­ti­mated at 25 per cent. 25 per cent of teach­ers are ab­sent from work. Only 50 per cent of teach­ers are ac­tu­ally en­gaged in the act of teach­ing while at work. In­dia faces a short­age of 1.2 mil­lion teach­ers. We have 30,000 in­sti­tutes of higher learn­ing and not one in Top 100 glob­ally. Some­thing has go­ing hor­ri­bly wrong. To break the vi­cious cy­cle, we will need to start with the gar­dener, who must sow the vir­tu­ous seed—the teacher.

The class­room has evolved tremen­dously. Af­ter ar­rival of var­i­ous writ­ing sys­tems in an­cient time, horn­books came in 1400 in Eng­land and US. The black­boards in­vaded class­rooms only in 1801. In­struc­tional TV and Ra­dio ruled the roost from 194090 when per­sonal com­put­ers and in­ter­net took over. What next?

The class­room of the fu­ture will be wire­less. Stu­dents may choose not to carry books; they won’t leave home with­out the tablets. Yes, the tablets will be all-per­va­sive. From KG to PG, a stu­dent will be con­nected real-time to his teacher. The con­tent de­liv­ery will be au­to­mated. The as­sess­ments will be online and the class­room will of­ten be out­side the four walls of the in­sti­tute. The good news is that we can pro­duce the rock­star teach­ers of the fu­ture.

Con­fu­cius rightly said, I hear and I for­get. I see and I be­lieve. I do and I un­der­stand. We need to bring back learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to the class­room. This re­quires as, Michael Bridges from icarnegie, says, seven prin­ci­ples of learn­ing; prior knowl­edge, or­gan­i­sa­tion of knowl­edge, mo­ti­va­tion, mas­tery, prac­tice and feed­back, stu­dent de­vel­op­ment and class­room cli­mate and metacog­ni­tion. All of this boils down to a stu­dent-cen­tric learn­ing. This tran­si­tion from teacher­centric teach­ing is not just im­mi­nent but an un­stop­pable re­al­ity.

A teacher is train­able. The fu­ture does not need foun­tain- heads of knowl­edge and su­per-hero teach­ers of yore. The knowl­edge will be digi­tised on the tablet, avail­able on call. But syn­the­sis­ing and or­gan­is­ing that knowl­edge will not be easy. For ef­fec­tive and pur­pose­ful syn­the­sis­ing, the good-old teacher will al­ways be re­quired. Only the teacher can start the vir­tu­ous cy­cle with an in­spired stu­dent want­ing to be like his teacher, lead­ing to bet­ter stu­dent out­comes. Bet­ter life skills and em­ploy­a­bil­ity skills will lead to greater suc­cess of these stu­dents lead­ing to more chil­dren in­side schools and col­leges, more fees and rev­enues and even­tu­ally higher wages and grow­ing teach­ers. The search for ex­cel­lence in the In­dian Ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem must start in­side the class­rooms—with the teacher.

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