Wednesday 25 April 2007

On education, learning and training...

Once again, I refer to a post on Atanu Dey's blog today, where he makes a reference to a series of three articles (Intelligence in the Class Room, What's Wrong with Vocational School and Aztecs vs. Greeks) by Charles Murray in the WSJ editorial pages. Excellent pieces of work that, as the author as well as Atanu point out, set the stage for more questions and research rather than trying to make a point. In an Indian context, it leads one to ask some questions and make some observations of our own, like -

  • In our educational system today, are we punishing students with an inherent lack of intellectual ability (what Murray might refer to as a low amount of 'g') through lower grades and failures, while rewarding those with structurally stronger abilities through higher grades? (It's sort-of the eternal 'talent' vs 'training' question that we often tend to ask in sports). Shouldn't the focus, therefore, be on what education is 'appropriate'?
  • In a society like ours, aren't we considering some types of jobs as 'elitist' and many others as 'common'? Shouldn't we head towards a scenario where the value of each job is truly understood and therefore respected? As a corollary - how many of those jobs we consider as 'common' are really so, today? What was basic carpentry for middle class homes a couple of decades ago is now a much more evolved discipline like 'interior designing'
  • If we have increasing specialization and maturity in disciplines and jobs, isn't it time we try to move into a stronger focus on vocational training straightaway, rather than go through the charade of getting a basic college degree? For instance - if I choose to get into interior designing as a career, why should I waste three years getting a bachelors in commerce or science? Especially when I am not really learning anything useful during that time? What's with the whole 'college degree' thing?
  • We seem to be increasingly teaching our children the sciences, the arts and management. What about values and ethics? Time was when Indian education through the gurukul system focused on an all-round development which included enabling the student to take wise and just decisions. Given our lifestyles today at home, the chatter and noise of modernity and the technically oriented curricula at schools and colleges, are our children getting that focus at all anymore?
Clearly, one of the forces that is going to propel our country into large-scale development and progress over the next few decades will be the power of our people. And education, as well as training (a word I use as different from the first, in that it's got a more hands-on and vocational aspect about it), will play a key role in this. Asking ourselves such questions and trying to answer them is vital!

1 comment:

Grandebelf said...

U can do a bachelors in interior design from NIFT. Ramya did masters but these days bachelors are available. But these need to be more vocational.. but increasingly institutes in india offer vocational stuff. India will do itself a world of good by reforming the ITI system and taking it to more rural areas