21st Century world order makes it imperative for the survival of each country to ensure access of quality education to everyone, everywhere. The quality of education is a subjective term and to much extent has become a limited term which is measured mostly in the suffocating confines of grades and assessments.
The progressive today are not the ones amassing grades and laying them all down on a mat for accurately counting the number of As, Bs and God forbid Cs. Progressive today are the ones who are acquiring the skill set for the world of tomorrow which relies heavily on teamwork, leadership, change management, compassion and empathy for others. Where collaboration is the key and competition is obsolete, the educationists of today need to unlearn, relearn and adapt to the needs of survival for tomorrow which has almost reached today.
Educationists need to realize that we no longer need to create standardized models which think alike and work alike. Where EQ has taken precedence and IQ lags behind, the ones who can work together are needed more than those who are even excellent independent workers. Assembly lines which anyways robotics could take care of, we need more people who are ‘humane’ who possess their unique characteristics and are creative enough to visualize a black light… something which ‘Siri’ would not only be not able to register but also reply to the question as, “Are you okay today?”
Today we need learners with high moral values, peacemakers, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and communication experts. We need those who reach beyond the lid of their box and create the unimaginable. We no longer can measure education from the standard of a 3 hr assessment programme which compartmentalizes humans in groups and then adds labels which are not only biased but no longer hold any precedence in their futures.
The world that needs grit, perseverance, sustenance and change management cannot rely on examinations which are devoid of measuring any of the above skill set and hence we mostly observe that those whose grades are high, usually are not players of a team and tend to remain isolated from the society. These high achievers wearing neck breaking bands of medals and carrying a handful of trophies many times lag behind the mediocre students in their practical lives. They are the ones who are obedient of the society who have been programmed in the best possible way things to do the way they ‘should’ and not dare to ‘think’ of the variety of ways it ‘could’ be done. We have created and are brutally continuing to create robots that will not anyways stand a chance against the machines of the future. We need people who can do what these machines can’t. We need leaders who can manage these machines and bring them to their service while making the best of use for the mankind. Analytical skills, inference, decision making and dynamism are the elements crucial for the students of today to excel in.
Schools when chained to the mere idiosyncrasies of a principal, and not to policies and system in place, are bound to collapse. In Pakistan most schools need to unlearn, relearn and implement the change required in imparting education. Drilling a fish to climb a tree can ruin the true potential of the fish which is to swim all the while harming its confidence and killing its innate self and skill. Teachers of today need to identify the unique abilities of the children and develop them until they are capable enough to recognize and channelize themselves their energies towards their true potential.
We need to have more reflective practices which focus on teachers’ role in developing the future that lies just before us. Inability of the next generation to survive the times of tomorrow will lead to psychologically damaged youth with ailments such as depression, which is already rising at an alarming rate. It’s high time we involve meditation and counselling programmes in our systems. We indulge in dialogue and resolution of issues rather than tagging, name calling and detention.
Teachers and parents need to stop self victimizing themselves causing the child to remain confused forever. They need to take up the responsibility to create compassionate adults, involve and encourage questioning and curiosity as the great Socrates preached and practised. We need to think about praise as to give rewards and penalty as taking them away. It’s not important to punish by derogatory remarks which may not help in making the child any better and in fact many end up getting things worse.
Feedback is essential for a student’s development as mostly we see the teachers brutally marking the scripts, judging them with grades, however depriving the students of individual feedback. Feedback helps give direction, not only of why they attained less grades but how and what they need to do to climb further the stairs that lead to better preparation of acquisition of knowledge and success. Information, Evaluation and Guidance (IEG) are the key steps of effective feedback without which to expect improvement in a child’s performance is ineffective.
Collaboration and connection are the pre requisites of success, and perfection that never existed, to date remains vague and pointless.
Health, Safety, Security, Engagement and Challenge are the 5 essentials of an acceptable school. We as Pakistanis need to see in these realms how well we stand and in which direction we are moving. Are we really engaging the children and challenging them enough to explore, inquire and adapt? First we need to connect with them and convey the requirements of the novel age to convince them to work towards a sustainable future for them tomorrow.
Not only teachers but parents play the pivotal role in upbringing of the children hence it’s the added responsibility of the learned to impart the ability to think learn and communicate the same to the generation next. Without educating the parents of the new world order, our efforts may confuse the child rendering them futile and fruitless. For it is said all geniuses have one thing in common, and that is “an educated mother”.