It breaks my heart and brings me to tears when I think that as I was wrapping up my previous articles on how as parents we can support our children in school works and what would make us a good parent in today’s world, two of our teenagers from our own city were breathing their last to leave the world behind.
A world which they had just started to explore, a world in which they had dreamt to live, a world in which they had aspired to accomplish so many unsaid, unexpressed goals, a world which gave them so many promises, a world which they fantasized, a world where they wanted to be happy and above all a world in which we wanted them to be happy.
Then what went wrong?
For a moment the news made me feel purposeless, I couldn’t find a meaning in me writing about supporting the children in school works or any other parenting article for that matter. I could not stop myself from from being engrossed in the thoughts of what could have led those children to QUIT?
Whom can we hold responsible?
Parents? Teachers? Schools? Friends? The system? No matter what the reasons are but I strongly feel and believe the responsibility is ours. When I say ‘ours’, I mean it is a collective responsibility of Parents, Teachers and Schools and together.
If we feel our systems are responsible, the systems are made by us, and it is high time we bring about a CHANGE, if that is what is the need of hour and if that’s what takes us to provide a peaceful and happy living for our children. End of the day, are we not the same parents who boast about our children’s happiness being the only goal of our lives??
Off late a very close friend of mine, who is not a native of India but is settled here and has been observing the Indian education system, have been telling me that we must look for an alternative education system for our children, it is not correct to put all our children through the same level of learning, each one has a different skill and a different talent and we need to bring the best in them.
I have always been telling her, it sounds good to talk and seems music to ears but not sure if we can ever see the changes being implemented. But then incidents like I mentioned above are scary and forces us to think for an alternative system of education where LIFE is a priority over EXAMS / MARKS / GRADES.
What is alternative system of education?
Alternative schools are being accepted in many parts of India, more often than not they have been started by people who have believed in CHANGE and who have felt that there are better outcomes of Education than just the RESULTS and MARKSHEETS.
They seek to bring about changes in the way we teach, and the way students learn, by moving away from the ‘rote learning’ factory type system of education that has been so prevalent not only in India, but all over the world for the last two hundred and fifty years.
As audacious as that sounds, alternative schools usually look to teach in ways that are varied and that involve the learner fully - not only using a blackboard, with a teacher standing at the head of a class of 30 or 40 or even 60.
A lot of learning happens through activities, role play, experiments, discussions, group work etc. This might include the use of technology, live projects and experiments, innovative use of the immediate environment to teach mathematical and scientific concepts, games, group discussions, role play, music, movement and more. It really is down to the creativity and nous of the educator.
As far as philosophy goes, alternative schools usually mean it when they say ‘each child is unique’. Given that they are smaller in size, with smaller class sizes, children usually get a lot more individual attention, and are allowed to move at their own pace. This is made possible because the educators don’t expect all children in a class to level up to one standard as is the case in mainstream schools.
Anyone who has taught in a class, or even been part of a class, knows that there are multiple skills and abilities in any class — and alternative schools understand and use this dynamic so as to ensure all children are getting an appropriate level of challenge. So, children who need more support are given this support, while those who need more challenge are given this challenge.
A question I would like to ask all elders is
Were you happy with your school and did it prepare you for life?
If your answer is NO, then it’s possibly a time to look out for an alternative education system or bring about necessary CHANGE!!
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)