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Celebrating the School

By G. Balasubramanian

The K-12 system of education is currently under pressure from different directions. While at one end, the content, pedagogy, and assessment patterns seem to be transforming to new perspectives, the current narratives that describe lifestyles, the conflicts that arise through human thought dynamics, the impact of digital approaches to redefine relationship models appear to contextualise the needs and purposes of educational processes to new paradigms and patterns. The socio-cultural evolutions expect from educational systems learners who are more integrated, more competent, current, enterprising, and productive. These requirements seem to demand a more broad-based approach to the way the schools shape and structure themselves for the future, brand and celebrate themselves.

The schools need to refocus the way they organize and impact their learner’s growth process. Some of the ways they should address the emerging needs could be:

1. Celebrating Ideas

The schools need to understand that repetitive content and their assessment through exercises that promise and promote rote learning would no more be appreciated in any learning environment. A potential learner is a treasure house of ideas. It is necessary to tap these ideas, nurture them, navigate them and celebrate them and the school communities need to make a conscious and positive commitment to this. Every learner comes with a fund of ideas both during the process of learning and as an outcome of learning. With the human brain processing the inputs of information both in a synergetic and synesthetic manner, the students may come with a galaxy of new ideas. Of course, some of them may be fanciful but even those are worth examining without rejection. The celebration of the ideas of the individual learners puts them more on a progressive pursuit of new knowledge oftentimes facilitating construction of new knowledge. Celebrating ideas of the learners would also help in meeting their existential identity needs and enhance comfort and confidence levels to a more adventurous journey in learning.

2. Celebrating Curiosity

Curiosity is the bedrock of the growth process of life systems. The search for knowledge and experiences starts right from the time of birth. Unfortunately, the curiosity of the individual is oftentimes silenced, overpowered with the existing dominant ideas thereby forcing them to accept what is already prevalent. Curiosity, sometimes, is considered as a threat to formal learning or as an interference to the normative learning procedures of classroom indulging and promoting mediocrity. There should be a process in place in schools to observe, understand, record, nurture and facilitate the domains of curiosity of the individual learner. This is a phased process, and the schools need to have a window where the learners could showcase their curiosity, even if it is to a limited extent. Celebrating the curiosity of the learner is a gateway to their future genius.

3. Celebrating Enterprise

Several students in formative process exhibit a sense of enterprise. They come with questions of ‘why not’ in preference to why. Nurturing the sense of enterprise gives enormous scope for finding their identity, their ability to develop problem solving and decision-making skills, their ability to analyse date and seek opportunities, their ability to take risks and manage them effectively, their aspiration to do a thing differently or creatively. The schools need to have a workstation for learning, planning, exhibiting, and parading their sense of enterprise. This goes alongside with idea creation and idea management. This not only enhances their self-confidence but provides an opportunity for positive approach to life and understand not only business but the dignity of labour.

4. Celebrating creativity

Not all ideas or entrepreneurial attitudes might be linked to or leading to creativity. Creativity is a much more broad-based process encompassing several domains of knowledge. This helps in capturing, nurturing, hypothesizing, testing, and piloting the ideas. The universe of creativity extends its horizon to several abstract areas of learning including fine arts and poetry. Schools need to have separate centres for creative engagement. Creative thinking and engagement need to be recognized and appreciated. Children with creative mindsets need to be developed as role models for others. It is important to ensure that there is no bias in respect of disciplines of learning. Bias should also not exist depending on the utilitarian value of the creative outcomes.

5. Celebrating Quality

The concept of quality is vital to any productive process, whether concrete or abstract. Unfortunately, several compromises are made both in defining quality or certifying quality either due to social compulsions or due to resource limitations. Pursuit of quality must be integral to any learning process so that it becomes a second habit. Opportunities do exist in every pursuit of learning to position quality both in content and processes. This can be realized only if one has a right mindset to breathe quality in whatever they do. In an increasingly competitive and consumerist environment, the focus on quality will be significant in the future. It is important for schools to develop a generation of learners with the right mindset for the pursuit of quality.

6. Celebrating Values

Values form the core of any purposeful thinking and living. Understanding and pursuing values is the outcome of the wisdom of any evolved society. Understanding the role, implication, and practice of values by any individual is critical to the personal and social growth. Opportunities to engage with value propositions and practices in a school system is important for a healthy futuristic society. In a world haunted with competition where value as an instrument of righteousness is negated, it would be injurious to the national and universal health. Plans and programs need to be put in place on a continuous basis to empower the learners with values. As such every discipline of learning holds values central to their heart.

7. Celebrating Heritage and Culture

Heritage is what a country passes on to its posterity as the treasure assimilated over the past. It introduces the learners to the struggles by which the past generations have unravelled the unknown vistas of knowledge. It puts the current generation on a more comfortable pedestal to travel towards the future. It helps to understand our relationship with the entire biosphere and the ecosystem. It helps to understand how acceptance and celebration of diversity facilitated to promote and pursue diverse perspectives and seek a common meaning to the diversity. Schools should open more avenues for celebration of heritage and culture so that the learners see the harmony as the undercurrent in diversity and conceive the ‘one world’ idea.

8. Celebrating the Planet

The proverbial statement “In search of trees, the forest is lost” appears true in the field of education. The issues relating to global warming, depletion of the ecosystems, disturbance to the balance of nature, deforestation and resultant weather challenges seem to be creating problems to the very existence of the planet. No amount of education is sufficient to promote the urgency for saving the planet. In trying to focus on data and the irrelevant concepts which have no concurrent value, we seem to be handing over a half-dead curriculum to the learning community. The SDG 4 goals need to be realized without delay and hence the schools need to put in place appropriate plans for enriching this idea of ensuring a sustainable planet.

The vital issues enlisted above appear to be the most critical requisites for any futuristic educational process. With the new NEP in place, the time is ripe for envisioning the schools with a third eye. It is time for the schools to examine their processes rather than showcasing their examination results.