Let’s make teaching and learning more experiential, meaningful and inspirational to motivate teachers and students to respond better to life’s challenges, writes SWAMI SHANTATMANANDA

More than 130 years ago, Swami Vivekananda undertook a Bharat Parikrama on foot, and was appalled by the poverty, illiteracy and superstition prevailing in society. He said that education is the panacea for all evils. Today we have education, but is it the right sort of education? Does it encourage us to become innovators or mere imitators? A large number of students don’t feel connected either to the school, class or teacher. Only those students who are good in academics are encouraged and appreciated. So we look forward to reforms in the education system that will inspire students to have original thoughts, be better connected with society and become confident and solution-oriented.

We must ensure that every student benefits from education, not just as a means to a career but as a guide to face challenges in life and to stand on his own feet, come what may. Swami Vivekananda wanted Indians to get that education, which would instil a tremendous sense of atmashraddha, self-belief.

A student with self-belief would never feel inferior to any other student. He will know that he has immense potential and with the right awareness and effort, he can create his own destiny. Swamiji said education is the manifestation of perfection already present in the student.

We tend to think that knowledge flows from the teacher to the taught — that is, the teacher is a repository of knowledge and the student is fed this knowledge. This implies knowledge comes from outside to the inside. But, Swamiji was emphatic that knowledge is inside and needs to be brought out through right guidance. If a good mathematics teacher teaches 50 students throughout the year, she is imparting the same knowledge to all students at the same time. If knowledge flows from teacher to students, then at yearend, all students should score the same marks. But, we see variation in marks from zero to hundred. In those students where this knowledge was in a seed form, the teacher triggered the manifestation, and with the right effort those students performed well. This idea of inside-out education completely changes the dynamics of learning. If students are made aware that within them exists infinite power, knowledge and goodness waiting to be unearthed, their whole approach to education, school and teacher would be revolutionised. Every student would be a bundle of energy, full of hope, positivity and enthusiasm, irrespective of his academic capabilities. Students would love coming to school and interacting with teachers. They will be taught how to think, not what to think.

Lack of motivation in teachers leads to their indifferent teaching. In the ancient gurukula system, students lived with teachers and imbibed not only academic knowledge, but also noble character traits, which made them ideal citizens. Today, students have little contact with teachers. Further, many teachers take up teaching because of lack of other opportunities and, hence, have little enthusiasm to actually influence impressionable, young minds. The system rewards them for academic results and they consider any extra assignment as a burden. Hence, there is the need for extensive reforms in the very foundation of the education system.

Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi, has developed a programme titled ‘The Awakened Citizen Programme’ for middle-school students — a three year secular, graded programme in which there are 16 interactive modules for each year. These cognitive learning modules are provided free of cost to bring out infinite knowledge, power and goodness in students. Through personal and peer learning, ably facilitated by the teacher, students discover the immense potential within them and the various universal (character) knowledge and physical possibilities that they can bring out and improve upon.

This programme has been adopted by more than 5,400 schools countrywide, including Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, some government schools in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as well as many private schools. More than 41,000 teachers have been trained and the programme has so far touched the lives of more than ten lakh students. With education reforms in the news currently, a cognitive teaching and learning programme, which will build a firm foundation of values in education, is of paramount importance. Then, Swami Vivekananda’s dream of a new India, where Indians will discover their lost individuality and surpass even the glorious achievements of our ancestors, will become a reality.

The author is Swami Shantatmananda, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi

Courtesy : Speaking Tree Home / Editorials / New Vision Of Shiksha:

Aug 07, 2020, 23:56 IST