Today’s Education – A Holistic View

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Swami Vivekananda says that education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested all your life. We must have life building, man making and character making assimilation of ideas. To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind and not the collection of facts which enables a person to stand on his own feet. In other words, education should aim at bringing out the excellence in every human being. Renowned philosopher and former President Bharat Ratna Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan asserted, “The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature.

According to the new education policy, education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development. Providing universal access to quality education is the key to India’s continued ascent, and leadership on the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation. Universal high-quality education is the best way forward for developing and maximizing our country's rich talents and resources for the good of the individual, the society, the country, and the world.

Is the ground reality in tune with what is enunciated in the new education policy and the views expressed by great thinkers like Swami Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan?

During the long duration of the lock-down and unlocking situation due to Covid-19 pandemic, the students couldn’t attend their class (which of late is being resumed gradually) and as an alternative, online classes were started during this period. It helped the students to remain engaged with their studies and periodical examinations during this critical phase of pandemic. It was good that students did not bear the loss of a session or a complete year and somehow the process of education continued, of course with certain compromises which were mostly unavoidable.

Now it is time to look back and look forward as well to ensure the journey ahead with best of online (Virtual) and offline (Actual) classes in the best interest of students in particular and all other stakeholders in general keeping in view the growing dependence on digital technology world over. Yes, to put the whole issue in right perspective, it is pertinent to enumerate certain important points in favor and against the new concept of online education which some experts are advocating loudly for continuance even after full normalcy is restored Post Covid-19.  

Talking about advantages of online education, we find that it allows for new techniques of learning particularly in an abnormal situation. It has brought education to students keeping indoors in a flexible way. Yes, it is a welcome change for students from strict schedules and hassles of long-distance commutation to attend actual classes. Online learning also offers teachers an alternate way to take classes even from their homes. It offers accessibility of time and place to both students and teachers besides exposure to technology and cost cutting.

So far the disadvantages of online education are concerned, students feel that online education is non-interactive and impersonal. It is found that teachers are not so attached to their students and also not particular about following the set process of online classes. Moreover, the chances of distraction are reasonably high. Students easily lose track of their studies in online education since there are no face-to-face lectures and nobody to remind them about assignments. Students didn’t have the opportunity to attend courses that required the facility of a laboratory. The outdoor sports activities, an inseparable part of the present education model, necessary for keeping fit and consolidating the sense of empathy, camaraderie, mutual appreciation and team spirit are badly affected.  The health issues related to prolonged screen exposure are matters of grave concern for students and their guardians. Network sustainability, availability of electricity and affordability of smartphones and internet connection, especially in rural areas, are few other concern areas that need to be addressed. 

Albert Einstein says, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” It is right that every student is in his impressionable age and hence learns more from the nature, parents and family members, people in the neighborhood, teachers and seniors in the school-college, the happenings around him, the daily dose of struggle, failure and success, the ideas and actions than by mere classroom learning and reading the notes and prepared answers that too online at times. All this accelerates the thought process of the students and enhances their thinking level. In fact the creative and innovative faculties get wings in an open and competitive environment. The most successful experiment of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore of teaching his students under the trees and open sky in Shantineketan vindicates the point beyond doubt. Keeping the students indoors and compelling them to be glued to mobile or laptop or computer screens most of the time is bound to create more than one social, cultural and health problems. To say precisely, the class room and face-to-face interactive classroom education is a must for ensuring all round development of students, notwithstanding the need to get proper exposure to new developments in digital space.  Surely, the teachers must play the befitting role in this direction as Ever Garrison maintains, “A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge and wisdom.”


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