Is Education the biggest loser?

Learn about Education with Nana Patekar

Movie Case Study

The above scene is from the movie Paathshaala, here the principal of the school is conflicted between doing what is right or making the school profitable. He believes that education today is commercialized. Schools are being converted into 5-star hotels and real education suffers. In this blog, learning Perspectives explores whether education is the biggest loser.

Is Education the biggest loser?

My early education

My formal education, like many, began in a classroom however my real journey towards education started when I was in my college. At this time, I saw small children covered in mud sitting at construction sites. My heart said these children don’t deserve to be here, yet they were there.

So, I decided to find them and teach them. It wasn’t easy, many workers wouldn’t send their kids, however, it was great fun teaching when these kids showed up. I could see, how each child was unique and had a different view of looking at the world. This was mostly due to their environment.

Since this is what I loved, I started teaching the unprivileged section of society. Initially, I taught them under a tree and later found a space in a temple. I started visiting many NGOs and teaching students English. I loved the whole process.

This experience carved my understanding of education. I understood how education cannot be restricted to classrooms. All kids would come running looking at me even in scorching heat, they recognized the value I was giving them. I would be drenched in the joy of it. I recognized how scarcity of resources leads to an understanding of opportunity.

Soon, life happened, I went on to do my Master and a job was offered. Like everyone, I began my corporate career. I completely forgot about my rich experience. But life had other plans, after 8 years in the corporate with no joy and fulfillment, I finally decided to pursue the education sector.

I had no idea how to do this, so I began studying to qualify for a professor role. After failing for five years, I was able to qualify. As I went to the college to teach, I could see a huge gap. Students did not want to learn.

Who is Losing?

However, they wanted to sit in the class for attendance, they wanted to pick up certain words, and wanted some answers for the assignments. And some attended the class for grades in the examinations. I could see a very big loser in all this. It wasn’t just me, the students, or the institute. It was Education. Education lost its essence. It was the biggest loser.

Shouldn’t learning occur for the joy of it? Rote learning was involved for the purpose of writing the paper. Joy was sapped from the whole process. I could also see a stark difference between the privileged and unprivileged sections & how the privileged section lost more than the unprivileged.

I thought to myself that schools and universities are producing robots who aren’t learning anything for the joy of it but rather rote learning for attendance, assignment, grades, and degrees. I came back feeling exhausted, tired, and sapped of my life force energy.

Some difficult questions?

Where did we go so wrong? What can an educator do in such a scenario, when the underlying goals are different? Why would education be important when a pot of gold (such as a job) is more important? The E-learning industry was a boom during covid. Everyone made a lot of money, but who was losing?

Are we seeing what’s happening? Can we recognize the state education is in? Some say the commercialization of education has made it so. That could be a factor, however, this is happening before commercialization started. Many generations have lost the battle to it. I read the new education policy and it comes from some of the finest minds in the country. It will be implemented in phases. I do see a ray of hope. However, the state today scares me.

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & learning is the heart of education. Even if one component is missing then the heart bleeds. Radical changes in education are needed. Especially a mindset shift. This is to be done at all levels of the society.

Learning for the joy of it creates many leaders.

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