I recently came across a very interesting analogy in a discussion between esteemed educator Sir Kenneth Robinson and mystic Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev. (Check out the full discussion here)
Sir Kenneth Robinson says that modern education is very much like the industrialization of agriculture. The main focus there was to increase crop output through artificial enhancers like high-yielding variety seeds, pesticides, weedicides and several other chemicals. This did meet the objective of increasing output but it came at a great and irreplaceable cost to the farmers, to native species and to nature itself. A more organic approach of enhancing the soil quality would have sufficed as nature is perfectly capable of servicing man’s needs.
What we are doing with our children in the name of education is quite similar. There is an increasing focus on the infrastructure, funding patterns, technology, assessment and grading. All for an increase in end economic output. This has only resulted in an academic inflation in terms of the number of degree holders. Education must primarily focus on providing a conducive environment for the child to realize his/her inherent intelligence.
This is what I call the concept of Humanizing Education. What I mean by that is there is a need today to infuse humanity and a certain profoundness to the process of education along two specific lines:
Why are we educating?
And How are we educating?
When we look at our objective of education today, it focuses mainly on the gathering of facts or what we call intellect and this is purely memory based. What we must be focusing on is to see education as a means by which teachers encourage and inspire children to find their inherent intelligence. This is what we need to live as complete human beings.
That brings us to the question of How do we educate?
This relates to the constructivist view of learning which is possible largely through informal education where a child constructs his/her learning by choosing what, when and how to learn. This is a solution to several problems plaguing education today like – focus on only enhancing left brain functionalities, increased stress due to limited options and most importantly the economization of education.
There is a lot of work being done in this space to infuse learning with creativity and joy. But the problem that persists is that of scalability. How do we take this model of personalized learning to a larger scale to cater to the needs of the growing population?
The answer to this lies in increasing the investment in our educators. The best of people have to choose education and in large numbers for this change to take place. And this cannot be done through limited practices like academic teacher training. This must come as a wave of awareness of the utmost need to be human and to value life that surrounds and dwells in us.
The future of education needs to therefore focus on the organic growth of humanity. Let us not be so caught up with the economics of life that we ignore the humans that we are. To put it in more relatable terms, let us turn things around before the opportunity cost of choosing the mechanical over the organic tides over our expected returns from humanity at large. Let us choose to humanize our education.