"The direction in which education starts a man will determine what his future will be".
Plato’s observation from around 500 B.C. holds as true today as it did back then. The importance of education cannot be overemphasised, whether for the individual or for society as a whole. However, as the human mind evolves, it is critical for education to evolve as well.
Over the last decade or so, education has undergone a paradigm shift the world over, and especially in the Indian context. Technology has been a major enabler in this. According to a KPMG study of Internet usage, India now ranks third after US and China, with about 200 million people accessing the Internet. The number is expected to reach 500 million by 2018, which, though stupendous in itself, is just a fraction of the total population. This clearly indicates the immense scope of growth. And modern education has successfully leveraged this advancement, using technology as a game changer in the way learning is delivered today.
Beyond Geographical Barriers
An interesting trend that has been catching on lately is that of online tutoring, with a plethora of startups which provide easily accessible, effective learning resources. With the compulsions and imperatives of changing times ‘working smart’ has replaced ‘working hard’ as the mantra for success, and this is where these ventures become relevant. Online and interactive material such as digital libraries, learning, and teaching software, podcasts, and more recently, iBooks, have taken innovation in education to the next level, making learning more accessible and affordable. And this is not only limited to academics - music lessons, language training, lessons in public speaking or presentation skills, etc. have now gone online, thus largely eliminating geographical constraints. Finding the best teacher to learn a new skill no longer means traveling long hours through city traffic - one just needs to harness the power of the Internet.
Raising a Well-rounded Generation
Modern education also places greater emphasis on holistic learning and all round development instead of the traditional exam focused ‘rote learning’. This is a welcome change, with most schools nowadays offering a wide range of extracurricular activities such as sports, creative writing and soft skills training at par with academics.
A recent conversation with my colleague, whose child attends an acclaimed international school revealed how her child was deeply involved in what they called a ‘Library Week’, where they were to each set up a stall and talk about their favourite book or character. The choice of books was left entirely to the child and apparently even the teachers were surprised at how diverse their choices were, ranging from fairy tales to science fiction, to poetry, to non-fiction. They also have other, similar events like Science week, Language week, and Theater week, thus ensuring that every child gets to deep dive into what interests him/her, and also gets exposed to others’ perspectives early in life, outside the structure of the classroom curriculum. The direct outcome of this is a much more confident and well-rounded set of youngsters, with a broader view of the world and the ability to think analytically and challenge the status quo. This culture of encouraging free thought is going to be the real game changer in the days to come and is exactly what the country needs to make the leap from being a ‘developing’ to a ‘developed’ country.
A Global Orientation
Globalization has been yet another driving factor in changing the way Indians look at education. With the world becoming more ‘flat’ in terms of communication and exposure, students and parents are increasingly looking at global standards and trends when it comes to education. Schools following alternative curricula and teaching methodologies such as the time-tested Montessori method, the Steiner method, Krishnamurthy method etc. are garnering more and more popularity. Further, schools offering international syllabi are gaining prominence, and a whole host of options has become available, apart from the traditional ICSE/CBSE/state boards to choose from. As parents and students become more aware, institutions are also working harder to differentiate themselves and appear more attractive, and we can see some healthy competition brewing.
All these developments make the contemporary education sector an exciting field to watch and leverage; we can expect it to evolve and grow exponentially over the next few years. Apple Corporation founder, Steve Jobs, was extremely vocal in advocating how learning institutions are meant to focus, structure, and refine the best parts of life’s journey. It is encouraging to see the focus of the Indian education scenario shift, slowly but steadily, along these lines.
What is in it for today’s parents? At the very least, an exciting new world to explore, to find just the right match for one’s child. Resources such as KleverKid offer most of these options on a platter for parents to choose from, and as a modern parent, it is an invaluable asset to me. In education, as in everything else, one size does not fit all, and it is this realization that is changing the face of modern education, for the better.