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The 21st century has been quite volatile so far, and the first 3 months of 2020 are a prime example of the uncertain times in which we live. From threats of war, to raging bush fires to the Corona virus pandemic, life seems less predictable than it used to be. Things are in flux all the time, and many of us struggle to keep up with the fluctuations. As is famously said, the only constant is change. 

In a time defined by constant change, examples of rigid and antiquated systems stick out like a sore thumb. The education system is, unfortunately, an enduring symbol of an outdated system that is resistant to change. A system which resists change even when its own value and efficacy depends on it constantly changing to meet the needs of the modern learner is something that is vital to the future of the world. Rote learning and forced memorization  are used as a means to quantify a child’s ability to perform from an early age. Even in the face of results that are contradictory to such methods of teaching, the education system rarely engages in dynamism or innovation. 

What is taught to students is not engaging and frankly, boring especially because what is taught does not have relevance to the world they are about to enter. Outdated curricula are the enemy of the education system, but the system is too large and  rigid to revitalize and modernize the existing curriculum. Institutions are cognizant of this fact yet oftentimes they are in a hurry to “finish the syllabus”. Low pay and pressure from the management demotivate teachers from trying anything new in the classroom which makes job satisfaction particular hard for teachers who want to make a change, it is not a surprise then that quality teachers are in low supply in countries like India. 

The inaugural webinar of the School of Meaningful Experiences was a topical discussion on the state of our education system and the future of work and careers in the 21st century. Dr. Rakesh Godhwani, founder of the School of Meaningful Experiences, spoke about why it is relevant to understand these shortcomings and revamp the education system more attune to the needs of 21st century. He shared his views on the three major problems that plague the education system today. 

  • Bored Learners: 
Calvin and Hobbes bored of education

The plight of the modern learner

The Calvin and Hobbes comic above shows how frustrated the modern learner feels– trapped inside this system which slowly kills their creativity.There is a famous TED talk everyone must watch by Sir Ken Robinson where he talks about how schools systematically destroy a child’s natural curiosity and creativity. Being bored in class should not be a common example of the education system in the first place, yet there are definitely many who resonate with this comic, but ideally, no one should! There should be a way for everyone to be engaged with what is being taught, and this is partly achieved by revamping what is taught and focusing on the learner.

  • Disconnected learners: 

The picture of a man in full scuba gear above trying to survive in a desert perfectly exemplifies how prepared the modern learner is when they enter the 21st century workplace, where you are expected to send out a report on your KPIs by EOD without really knowing what KPI’s or EOD really meant. The list of expectations is endless and so is the hope for the work day to end. Something is clearly wrong.

The complete disconnect between what we learn and what we do as our work is clearly apparent when you look at in demand job descriptions that exist today and dint exist 10 years ago. If you were to tell someone you were a social media influencer a decade ago they would have looked fairly worried about your future. Yet today such jobs exist and continue to flourish. What we learn in school has remained the same since the industrial revolution, for which the education system was initially designed for.

  • Faulty testing systems

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

In  a system where marks and numbers on a report card are used as a symbol for competence and credibility you tend to forget that you are comparing apples to oranges. This is the only thing that the system does fairly well, testing to select the best apples and oranges of their lots and creating a sense of doubt in young inquisitive one which dont fit the count. 

The result is a bored, disillusioned and lost learner, who is overwhelmed by the constant barrage of information, is misunderstood, misguided and worst of all, unable to communicate this to the world around them- creating a massive internal conflict withing them which goes unchecked for several years. Looking up unto the likes of Nandan Nilekani and Raghuram Rajan as role models, the aspirations of the youngsters are really high though they are not taught how to deal with even the slightest bit of failure.

All of these issues and the drive to fix them are the core inspirations behind the foundation and the work of the School of Meaningful Experiences- where we have designed a new curriculum based on our SIX Cs- confidence, creativity, curiosity, communication, collaboration and competence. Please join us on our next webinar on 29th March 2020 where we will have two special speakers with us where we speak about “How to motivate your child to self learn”. Please reach out to us at [email protected] to join our subscribers list to receive emails about what we do and suggestions of topics you would like us to discuss on our webinars.