Can Einstein help reform our system?
Albert Einstein, the German scientist who gave the world the theory of relativity, had famously said about himself, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” This ‘curiosity’ quotient is most relevant today for the education sector. As students appear for final exams, we must reassess our over-emphasis on cut-offs and scores to re-look at a scenario where our kids may have learnt the answers but have forgotten the art of asking questions. It is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. As a generation, we are so obsessed with the ‘utility’ of education that we seem to be losing sight of what all it should include and how it should be delivered.
NEED FOR PRE-ASSESSMENTS IN CLASSROOMS
Einstein had once remarked, “Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I see the same phenomena in classrooms today. Everyone wants their kids to be not only better but faster than every other kid. However, in the classroom, we are spending time teaching learners what they already know, instead of using that time to build on the prior knowledge. We keep forgetting that we live in the information age, and children already have an existing knowledge base.
NEED FOR PERSONALIZED LEARNING
To quote Einstein again, he said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” The problem with assuming all learners to be having the same ability is that it means that we are ignoring the fact that different learners have different paces of learning. When the child has not grasped a concept, and we have rushed to the next topic in the classroom without plugging that gap, we are leading to a false start.
We are forced to revisit earlier topics in terms of revisions and remedials because we never assessed the child while the learning was happening and took a one-size-fits-all approach.
NEED FOR HARDWARE AND HUMANWARE FOR SUCCESS
An oft-quoted statement from Einstein ‘you can’t blame gravity for falling in love’ rings true in the context of tech-tools in learning. When the tools don’t appeal to the learner, the pace and effectiveness of learning slows down. Learners spend more time learning something simply because the tools don’t talk to them.
While the education sector has been excited about the use of cutting-edge technology with buzzwords such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Extended Reality, we must differentiate between the future of education from the future of technology in education.
Education is a complete ecosystem, and technology an enabler of it. For education to evolve, all key sub-systems must evolve simultaneously. What is happening currently is that technology is moving much faster than anything else. Assessment needs to keep pace with technology. Imagine creating a VR journey taking the learner inside a plant to see the cellular structure, how photosynthesis happens, how leaves wither and regrow.
The learner goes through that VR lesson, and in the term-end exam, all the child is assessed on is – “Name 5 parts of a plant.” Clearly, technology alone cannot improve the learning effectiveness yet it may be the biggest catalyst in achieving it. Similarly, the over-emphasis on the ‘right’ teacher which is constrained by a global human resource challenge must give way to a focus on ‘right’ teaching. Evolution of our learning tools with the help of technology in tandem with the evolution of our assessment framework and teaching will together spell success for the education sector.
We need to create an education system comprising content creation, assessment and teaching methodology that grows holistically and together.