The National Policy of Education 2019 has arrived at a time when India has to respond meaningfully to the current and futuristic challenges. One of the fundamental challenges in the design of the policy for a country, as large as India, is to understand the multiplicity of cultural, linguistic and geographical designs it has. However, in spite of its huge differences in terms of its geography, the country has nurtured and nourished some fundamentals in its educational processes and practices for centuries – based largely on the social ethics, individual freedom and pursuit of excellence through integration of intellectual, emotional, physical, psychological, social and spiritual domains. However, interventions in its historical timelines through external rule, impacted the fundamentals negating a healthy growth and refocusing the purpose to myopic visions and short-term fulfilments. Several of the human skills nurtured through ages were marginalized for mass productions through imported machines. The paradigm shift in education from "Learning to Be" to "Learning to Become" brought down the glory to mediocrity.
Therefore, it appears that it is right time now, to reinvent our understanding of education as a process of facilitating human excellence through personalized learning, celebrating the individual learner, appreciation of talents rather than achievements, realigning competition to cooperation, focusing on "Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram" – pursuit of Truth, Perfection and Beauty. Celebration of quality as a way of life has to be encouraged so that it becomes a second habit and a mindset of a nation that seeks to lead.
In order to address the fundamentals without losing connect with the current and emerging scenario in which ‘multi-layer’ learning would happen more informally than formally, when learning would be set free from the clutches of infrastructure that have ensured the process of ‘transferring’ learning through a process of structured teaching, we need to review the basics that would be inputs to the emerging curricular architectures in education. Given that the knowledge dynamics is fast and the speed of irrelevance of knowledge in increasing in magical time capsules, it is necessary to relieve the frames and disciplines of knowledge (rather content) from the definitions of learning. The following points needs to be understood before articulating the curricular architecture.
1. The humans will grow more harmoniously than ever before, in spite of the existing differences and the urge to nurture the basic differentiators.
2. There would be more intense and compelling interactions between humans as well as nations more out of necessity rather than for other considerations.
3. The concept of wealth will be getting redefined from time to time based on the emerging priorities; nevertheless, the planet earth and its holdings would become the common wealth of the entire universe and the individual wealth would be defined by their closer proximity to Nature.
4. Man-machine interface would increase to alarming proportions promoting generational and emotional gaps between the individual self and the social self.
5. Learning as a continuous process for survival will force time-space free learning systems at affordable costs to evolve in short time capsules. Any authoritative approach to imprison learning to defined frameworks of policy makers would face natural death.
All these and much more, demand a much broader approach to curricular framework rather than the traditional models. The fundamentals of these would be based more on skills which are open, inclusive and generational.
The following ten concerns appear to be important for consideration to the policy makers:
1. Positive Mindset: Given the challenges of the present and the future, we need a generation of people with a positive mindset, who not only foresee the future, but are willing to grow with challenges and accept the realities of emerging times. Curricular inputs empower this positive mindset.
2. Curiosity and discovery: As the world and its offerings, both natural and otherwise go on unravelling themselves, it would indeed need people who are curious to know, investigate, experiment and discover. We would need people who would question more rather than those who accept the listed answers. Discovering mindset has to be a second habit.
3. Sense of Enterprise: We need a generation of people who see opportunities in threats and failures. Ability not only see opportunities but are willing to seek opportunities with empowered skills of risk management and growth mindset.
4. Adaptability and flexibility: The curriculum should focus on developing a generation of people who are willing to continuously adapt and change – to technologies, skills, geographies, social and international concerns. The ability to transfer one’s skills to newer domains will define the quality of learning.
5. Fitness and Quality: Fitness is a concept that promotes quality. Fitness is basically a discipline with which a human being should decorate oneself. It calls for organization, system, process consciousness and a mindset to quality. Ii is a commitment to the health of the self and the processes we seek to practice, establish or one that would lead to productivity. Quality is an assurance one gives for one’s one best self. It is an autograph of the self, one records on one’s existence. These ideas need to be nurtured as a part of the learning spectrum of the leaners and thus find place in the curricular architecture.
6. Wealth generation: Wealth has to be understood in its larger context – not as money or material possessions – but health, knowledge, skills, self-esteem, Relationships with physical and human nature, happiness and the like. A mindset for wealth generation in one form or the other would help the learners to grow from being good to becoming great.
7. Ethics, Human & Constitutional Values: Ethics has to be one of the strong fundamentals of any curricular architecture. The last century has ushered in an unhealthy competitive trend wherein destructive practices has played over practices of peaceful co-existence. Excessive consumerism has promoted unethical practices of marketing, hoarding, exploiting and eliminating. The curriculum should rehabilitate the humans to their natural traits of living with goodness, cohabitation and peace.
8. Appreciation & Aesthetics: Appreciation is indeed one’s ability to acknowledge and celebrate others in as much as one would do it for themselves. It calls for a sense of empathy, understanding and celebration of the human potential wherever it exists and in whatever form it exists. It is an expression of one’s humility for a greater purpose of life. An eye for aesthetics enlarges the human cognition to finer aspects of Nature and its relationship with the rest of the universe. It is an attempt to communicate and position ourselves with intangible expression of divinity in the cosmic exuberance. Creating sensitivities for appreciation and aesthetics would help in assimilating happier moments in life and conquer over the trivialities in which a normal human being is immersed.
9. Scientific Temper: Scientific Temper is an expression of Viveka – the power of discrimination gained through immersive questions that challenge belief systems and decision making by differentiating the right and the wrong, the good and the bad. Scientific temper empowers purposeful pursuits in life relieving us from the burden of ignorance. It is an exercise in evidence-based consideration of known facts, oftentimes, revisiting and revisiting the earlier evidences by fresh experimentation and observations. Scientific temper is critical not only for the pursuit of science, but for a well-organized life.
10. Social Intelligence: Social intelligence is an important emotional and life skill required for a society which is increasingly becoming inter-dependent and collaborative. It is a design thinking for a positive interaction with a dynamic and vibrant community to position and grow personal skills as a part of the social skills. It develops nobler approaches to empathy and to celebrate relationships that bring happiness and development. In one way, it helps in articulating personal peace and diffusing conflicts, contradictions and confrontations. It helps in destressing aggressive interactions and ensuring a common code for mutual respect and thus empowers the personal growth profile of the learner.
In the interest of a nation that seeks to lead the world by educating its younger generation, it would be appropriate if the investors in the new policy of education take a serious note of the above.