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18 Apr 2024, Edition - 3201, Thursday

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Educators must keep up with ‘digital natives’

Dr.K.K.Ramachandran , Director at GRD


How does education need to change to accommodate everyone?

Education must be understood, appreciated and committed to what it really is — a lifelong process. I frequently point out that part of Buddhist philosophy is that you must begin preparing for your death from the moment of your birth. Even the very last moments of your life are teaching you something. So between school and college, the prime education should be that education must never stop. The moment we stop educating ourselves, the forward propulsion of our lives comes to a halt. The idea that you are done with education when you are out of the ambit of educational institutions is rubbish. So an entire system must evolve, an edusystem, if I may, that feeds everyone learnings of all kinds. After school and college there is the added advantage of opportunity as per your convenience. Coming to inclusive education, the same thing applies: students who cannot afford an education must be given access to it by imaginative provisioning by the government and private institutions.

Are we getting the right amount of exposure through education in India?

Exposure to what? If we know the what, the how will manifest itself. At this point there is a fair amount of exposure to school, college, higher learning and the like. But there is the fact that with 12 million Indians entering the workstream annually are they all educated in being professionals? We know the answer is No. As for students who are in the education system, it all depends on the wherewithal of the institution, which depends on what kind of fees they can collect, so it is a bit of a seesaw.

Is the engagement factor used in right proportions while teaching students?

Engagement has evolved to accommodate new possibilities, like the digital ones. There are pockets of schooling that are doing a commendable job, but they are too few and far in between. Students are exposed to tremendous novelties today via digital platforms and many schools are adopting these means to ensure that the student does not experience a horrible divide between real life and the classroom.

How can stress be avoided in education? Is the education system in India adding novelty in teaching?

Teachers should be given extensive EQ training. That will solve a great deal of the stress because when a teacher is EQ savvy, the student will benefit from the new power in the teacher. As for stress from the sheer prospect of textbooks and exams, students find them stressful anyway, as they have always done, because of the lack of imagination in their path to the textbook and the overwhelming importance the world at large gives to scores.

What role can a management school play in encouraging social ambitions?

A total role, not just a powerful one. A management school can help you locate the right social expression for your talents, then teach you how to carry management skills over the bridge to fulfilling social goals. All social workers should be given complimentary management education so that they are empowered to succeed in this critical dimension of service to the country.

Would you call yourself an educator with a futuristic vision? And why?

I am committed to spending an extraordinary amount of time keeping myself abreast of everything futuristic about education. I watch for indications that it works; while many people are very complimentary about my extensive and vigorous social media presence, I repeatedly say that that is the very least an educator can do. I have pointed out before that students must be engaged with their educators and that educators need to go where the students are. The digital universe is where the students are today, that is why they comprise such a large percentage of the ‘digital natives.’ Besides, students are born early adopters of technology and the sheer plasticity of their minds makes them frontline digital natives. The faster educators adopt all technologies, the fuller their ability to impart an education.

You are a management school head. Do you think modern education is driven only by technological and economic perspectives?

Yes and no. I have personally observed that universities in other countries have more discussions in the classroom, more of research-based education and the faculty is a lot more disciplined in all parameters. Plagiarism is a huge disgrace and is roundly penalised. They also have learning outcomes on each topic and a lot of group work. Their evaluation systems are also remarkably insightful. Their classes are not as crowded as ours. (Maybe because they don’t have a population of 1.3 billion!) They keep innovating with new courses. The recent ones which are quite a big hit seem to be sports marketing, luxury marketing and climate related courses. All of them are being driven by technology. And yes, when an institution has flush funds it can adopt new technologies but to get to that flush funding, fees have to be raised so there is that challenge, again . The matter of an economic perspective is the key element because it releases the funds to buy the new technologies that the students have already been using.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own

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