Everyone of us cherish the memories of our schooldays. Over the decades every generation has had its own advantages and disadvantages, but there has been an advancement in nearly all streams like agriculture, science and technology, sports, administration, etc. So, the education system and the students nowadays have a lot of advantage.
Some of the advantages that I have observed are :
Advancement of Science and Technology
Science and technology has brought an electronic revolution into the present. Computers, laptops, mobiles and other gadgets have changed the lifestyle of people. Computers and the internet have made the lives of students more comfortable. Any information required is available in abundance on the net.
I remember in my schooldays when I was in 9th standard, we were given projects to do. We used to run from library to library and from one book to another spending many hours looking for information. But now with ‘one click of the mouse’ (as it is said) we get vast measures. You needn’t photocopy all the pages like before, you just need to copy exactly what you need, paste it and print it.
Another advantage of the net is, you have communities e.g. Photographers, adventurists, teachers, etc., which you can join and ask questions and share your views and opinions (these are not chat rooms). Some of these communities have experts in their own stream who give some of the most invaluable experienced information which you may never read in books.
In the U.S.A. and the U.K. all students, graduation and above have to own a laptop. All their notes are keyed in, which makes the information easily accessible and transferable because its electronic. All their college campuses have Wi-Fi technology (wireless internet), so students have access to information all the time.
Openness and vast scope available in the education system
There is a tremendous openness in the education system. Many new schools, colleges and universities have been started. Open Universities, correspondence studies, evening colleges and foreign Universities have emerged. Education has become vast, many streams which were not so familiar some years ago have begun to show their importance e.g. as men have become health conscious, para medical studies have grown. Some of the other fields are interior designing, apparel designing, hardware and networking, biotechnology, tourism studies, ceramic engineering, etc. There are so many fields available nowadays that even your hobbies can earn for you e.g. photography and philately (stamp collection). Students can choose the field that they are interested in, because if you excel and show your skills you are capable of earning a good salary.
Parents and teachers should never compare students and never despise a student as “dull”, because he is bright in another area. You cannot and should not try to make all students into doctors and engineers. If everyone becomes a doctor or an engineer who will be the teacher, scientist, biotechnologist, politician, etc. God in his supreme wisdom has made individuals unique to serve their own particular or specific task. Every individual is unique, there is no person on earth exactly like the other, even among twins (the iris and the thumb impression of two individuals never match).
Role of the Government
Rules are made by the govt. for the protection of school children. Corporate punishment, harsh words and other punishments that humiliate a student have been banned. New plans, reservations and rules have been introduced for the benefit of the girl child. Vacancies and opportunities are created in all sectors for woman.
Involvement of newspaper
Newspapers like the Times of India, which has started the ‘Education Times’ brings about a lot of information for students. It also has a question column where students can ask any study or career related questions.
Now, some of the shortcomings faced are
Lack of a role model leader to follow
Students do not have role models to look at and follow. Generally speaking, many of the teachers are not respected by the students because they do not practice what they teach. They impose rules and demands on students but they themselves disobey the rules. There are very few teachers who have sound principles and values in life. Children are very keen observers, they watch our character more than our teaching. They may not tell you their opinion, but their innocent attitude towards you shows their respect for you. We need teachers who can challenge them.
Influence of television
Television has a great influence on the young mind. Students spent a lot of time glued to their televisions. One of the outcomes of the influence of television is the westernization of our culture. In the west people have a great respect for their fellow humans which are not portrayed on the screen, 90% of what we see and learn is negative.
In London, if there is a pedestrian who wants to cross the road at the zebra crossing the vehicles plying on the road stop and wait for the person to cross no matter what the colour of the signal is.
Buses have no conductors because people don’t cheat.
Bus drivers get down from their seat and help commuters put in their luggage.
Do you see any such thing in a film or show? All that you see is competitions, music, violence and romance. There are exceptional channels like Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geography and all the sports channels. But tell me, how many students spend their time watching these? Many of them waste their time watching television or listening to music rather than playing some outdoor games.
Moral and Social values are to be taught
Since the govt. supports students, it is a tough time for teachers. We still need to imbibe into our students moral and social values. We need to bring forth a good character in them. We need to teach them appreciation, respect, thankfulness and consideration.
As teachers, I feel our job is to make good citizens of our students along with teaching our subjects.
Parents and teachers should give children the freedom to choose their field. We must guide them, tell them as much as we can about the different career opportunities available right from school days, so that their goal is focused. Never compel them to choose a particular field, tell them your opinion and why you feel so but give them the option to choose. A very advisable thing to do is, to let the children interact with people already in the field that they want to choose, so that they can get first hand experienced information and have their doubts cleared.
I recently read in a book that, many parents complain that their ‘children are careless’ but the writer said that ‘children are cared less’. I feel that this is an absolutely true statement. Caring just does not involve providing all their needs and making their lives comfortable. Spend time with your children, speak to them, make them your friends, know their goals and tell them your plans. I remember once the director Karan Johar said that, “In India there aren’t many fathers who hug their grown up sons or put their hand on their son’s shoulder and talk to them”. The relationship between the father and the son diminishes as the son grows up.
LET US CHANGE.
(This is an article that was written for a magzine in October 2007, when I was working for the GLS group of Schools, Ahmedabad)