Given the rapid and phenomenal advances in technology – especially in communications and media – one’s natural expectation would be that the field of education would gratefully grasp these advances and make rapid strides to improving how education is imagined and delivered to the millions of students in our country.
But one’s expectations would be belied! We are a country that loves technology for its own sake – and not one that seeks to apply it for the betterment of its citizens. Take our roads and the way in which our garbage gets cleared in our cities and towns. It is hard to believe that we cannot do better than build roads that disintegrate in one season or less and that we continue to allow citizens to dump garbage at street corners to be picked up with bare hands by workers toiling to keep the streets clean. Granted that these are not simple technology issues because they are intertwined with the politics of our country and the way our civic amenity systems work. Nevertheless, it still amazes me that with all the smart people we have in our country, these systems continue to languish in medieval era styles of doing work.
My point with this post is that the area of education is no different. The system that delivers some of the finest minds this country produces, is tradition bound and shackled by obsolete content, ideas and methods. I do not think schools use the Internet as a teaching tool as much as it could be. We have mostly shied away from using digital tools in our classrooms and continue to reinforce rote-learning, mechanical reproduction of answers and a blinkered approach to learning characterized by confining oneself to accepting information without confirmation and self validation. Course syllabuses do not reflect contemporary ideas, and so students often have to learn ‘what is really needed’ after they leave school.
Change is impossible without pioneering efforts to introduce new models of teaching and to the using of new tools enabled by the new technologies of today. This requires a willingness to experiment and to discover new possibilities in this space. As with every other arena of life, there must be a commitment and a desire to improve how we teach our children. Otherwise, all technology development and all research and discovery will never reflect their full potential on society.