December 30, 2011

I am feeling sorry for the students of India burdened with intellectual workload

There has been discussions on reducing the learning burden of school kids; but the learning burden is just increasing. This is because the educational administrators, the teachers, the parents, and the public are aimless on the goals of the education system.

The school curriculum is framed by educationalists who are 'arm chair intellectuals'. They are not economists, psychologists, sociologists or planners. They are just teachers who have been teaching all the time and know nothing else other than teaching. So they follow what has been followed traditionally. They do not have the capacity to think what the society needs.

In my view, the school child need not be intellectually overburdened. The school curriculum need to expose the kids to various fields -that is all. Their natural skills and capabilities should not be suppressed. Rather they should be identified and promoted, if possible. Otherwise opportunity for developing their varied skill need to be provided.

The present day curriculum makers assume that every child must be an intellectual after going through the school course. This is sheer nonsense. We do not need to develop intellectuals; those kids who have such attitude to become intellectual will naturally become so in due course.

The contents or the curriculum imposes intellectual load on the kids. The fact that many kids fail in the exams or get low marks indicates that the curriculum is overburdening them. With teachers who are of poor quality and standards, the kids become overwhelmingly burdened to the point of harassment, and sometimes leading to emotional breakdown.

All kids entering school are not going to be blue collar workers or engineers, doctors or professionals or civil servants. Only a certain percentage will reach these professions. And only a certain percentage who does reach these professions are satisfied or are earning enough to make them feel contented.

Only 10-15 percent reach the engineering colleges or medical colleges and later on get jobs considered as high in social and economic status in the society. The rest majority end up in other professions -as shopkeepers, workers, skilled workers in different fields, teachers, nurses and supporting staff.

The school curriculum creates a huge competition among children for reaching the plum posts after a quarter of century, in the job market. The majority of kids fail in this competition and are left behind, feeling depressed. They are not going to become engineers, doctors or civil servants. There aren't so many posts in these professions in the society.

Then why should school curriculum be made so tough and oriented to drive kids to these professions? Why cannot we accept that the society needs a lot of workers and shopkeepers too, not just engineers and doctors and intellectuals?

The obvious answer to this would be 'how can we deprive opportunity to kids in order to reach the top jobs?'. Yes, we cannot do that. We cannot deprive the poor man's kids, kids of workers the opportunity to climb the social ladder and economic ladder by acquiring qualifications.

At the same time the question remains -is it worth driving kids so hard when we all know that only a small fraction will reach the top posts?

The issue that we started discussing relates to the curricular burden of kids but it expands into larger areas of philosophy, politics, sociology and economics ultimately. The curriculum thus is not an ambit of teachers alone, but it is an area of serious thoughts for intellectuals of other fields.

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