“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
Getting an education means learning how to learn, mastering a way to acquire knowledge. Yes, education is not knowledge itself, it is a process of mastering a technique which can be used to attain knowledge and become more productive. This technique also unravel the great curiosities surrounding our lives. Education helps us produce electricity out of wind. Education is the potion which turned cavemen and hunters into settlers. Nature evolved us from apes to humans but it’s education which evolved us from an animal to a man and it is perpetually evolving us even further. Interestingly, use of these techniques helped us extract the knowledge that we were once apes. Does an Indian education provide us with all these techniques? Not completely, as it makes us cram and memorise more and more information until our brain becomes a trashcan.
The Indian education system is contended just with the acquiring of knowledge and rarely focusses on the techniques to acquire it. In school, students rarely study to learn something, they do it only for marks. Like seriously, the fun and excitement has been quashed out of education. If students blame teachers and parents for this, then they are only partially right because our approach towards education is also the culprit. Even for students, education is only something which helps them acquire marks. Education is a massive iceberg but due to our constrained approach, we just see the tip of that iceberg.
In various countries, education is approached with a much broader vision which is not constrained to just textbooks. In America, a 10-year-old girl learns about demand and supply by setting up her stall and selling stuff. She is told that if more than a certain amount of people buy from her stall then she can increase the price to a certain amount and if its the opposite, then decrease the price. When she is finally exposed to the theory of demand and supply in class, she connects with it instantly and that experience of setting up a stall acts as a bridge between textbook content and the practical aspect of demand and supply. While in India, a Class 12 kid may derive a demand curve from utility curve but if the intuitive reason is asked, there is a high probability that they would scratch their head for hours and not come up with the answer.
When students learn about a tree, they are engrossed just by looking at the board with their pens rushing through the pages to jot down each word a teacher speaks. They want to imprint all those words in their minds and use them during exams. Do they look at a tree outside the window? I doubt it. Most of the students in India study to score good marks. There is nothing wrong in that but why not focus on acquiring education-enabling techniques as well as add some semblance of enjoyment in the process? Everyone loves to watch the Discovery channel, History channel and news channels to quench their curiosity but the moment we find the same stuff in our textbook, the fun and curiosity factor goes out of the window. Even our high school history books are nothing more than a compilation of various historical events and reading about these events will only give you the feeling of living in the past.
Despite all this, Indians are flourishing throughout the world and interestingly the credit goes to none other than our Indian education system. It enables students with an extremely important tool. Handling pressure in tough times. A student is exposed to a highly competitive environment since a very young age and that prepares them to succeed in the cutthroat world. Still, it can’t be denied that Indian education is majorly confined to textbook knowledge and a practical approach is lacking. The best way to learn is by doing and that method is the initial phase of having a practical approach to education. So, efforts are needed to accelerate the inclusion of this approach in the Indian education system.
According to the World Bank, India spent 3.8% of its GDP on education while the United States spent more than 5.3% of its GDP on education in 2016. As the US gives a huge importance to education, and its research and development, they are leading in the field of science and technology. Hence, the US is a superpower while India is still just a developing nation. In America, the professors and teachers are like celebrities and their influence in the society is immense. While in India, people fail to give teachers that respect and recognition. For them, teachers are just people who provide knowledge to students.
To become a superpower, education is a very crucial factor. A practical approach to learning is a costly method. Prioritising education and allocating ₹85,000 Crore in the 2018 Budget is a great leap in that direction. At the same time, students should also try to explore the vast ocean of education on their own and not do it just for the sake of getting more marks.