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Have you taught survival skills to your child?

Have you taught survival skills to your child?

In my course of research with hundreds of schools across the country, i have conducted numerous workshops with parents and teachers. While they share their concerns and success stories, I usually ask them, “What exactly do you want for your children?” The unanimous answer is “Success.” My next question is what do you think is the best way for them to have it, and they say “quality education”. Nobody has ever said that we want average performing students and average education for them. Everybody wants the kids to have the best education. The problem starts when we begin defining what exactly is quality education. This is where the picture becomes visible, different ideas come up about quality of education and the real purpose of education. The central question that we need to answer is that ‘what exactly are the learning needs of any century and how do we impart these skills to our children?’

To answer this, let’s explore how education has evolved over thousands of years, where are we standing today and where we might want to go from here. Let’s search for an insight into the key defining points of education today and tomorrow.

Education before we measured time

Education is a basic necessity for survival. The primitive man must have first taught himself, friends, family and later offspring, on what he kept discovering while hunting or gathering. The purpose of education, of course, would have been completely different than today. They would be learning about survival techniques and how to live another day. And this education, I believe, would have defined who they became as people. While there wouldn’t have been any classrooms, or formal assessments, there always would have been knowledge sharing sessions, and practical experiential practicing for everyone to bring the newfound knowledge to usage. There wouldn’t have been any formal report cards, but everyday of survival would have been equivalent to good marks and enough food to eat would have been equivalent to being a leader.

Education with advent of time

With agriculture revolution, the nomadic nature of man started shifting towards more settled habitations and structured living styles. People then started focusing on specialized skills to produce what they are good at and use a barter system (against produce or money) to get other things required for a living. This shift led the education towards specialized skills first by family members and later on via a more focused and systematic education system. The focus moved from survival skills to the development of knowledge. While education before the systems, identified an educated person as one who was able to lead a safe life, this era brought the notion that education means a system to gain information and make informed choices.

The most significant change that has been noticed between the aforementioned two kinds of education is the focus of the education outcomes. While in first case education was mostly focused inwards on self and survival, it is focused outwards towards the world and the possible explorations. What it means for me as a teacher? Now, instead of me being worried about teaching someone what to do to survive, the complete effort has been to help one to connect to various concepts and use them in life successfully.

Education in 21st Century

With a much more connected world where research in technology has surpassed any other research, where one can sense and feel to be in a completely different place than where they are physically (Virtual Reality), where finding a way in an unknown place is just a matter of a few clicks on a device and where food has reached not just the shelves of a store but the screen of a smart phone, and where the cars have now started driving themselves, the learning needs are changing at a much faster speed than ever. We don’t need to learn how to be safe against wildlife and we don’t need to learn what a civilization means, we will not need to remember tables and we may not need to memorize history, so what would education look like.

It’s pretty clear that with innovation in ed, tech & edtech; learning will become more personal. The need of the hour is to examine and redefine our teaching goals. The learning outcomes need to be defined more specifically and the teaching outcomes need to be designed with the learner at the center. The biggest goal here would be to understand individual needs and plan prospective education. Every learner will want his or her learning needs to be catered to efficiently. Probable learning outcomes could be like, ‘the students would be able to discover their innate potential’, ‘the student would be able to understand the importance of physical, mental, emotional wellbeing’, ‘the student would be able to make a difference and will be able to lead a meaningful life’.

So, what has changed in these three era’s. The difference can be clearly seen in the need of education. The need has moved from ‘being’ to ‘being human’, to ‘being an enlightened human’. The success for us has been that we have always identified our needs and have fulfilled them. The fulfillment of our needs have, of course, led to new needs but that’s what makes life beautiful.

Survival, now has a different meaning, everyday!

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