The fact that we have critical problems in our education system is a very well known fact.
We also know that the fundamental problems permeate into bigger problems in schools, where almost all of us have faced them directly. And they are not limited to rote learning, heavy bags and homework.
The problems are often subtle yet they affect us in a bad way. Deepak Mehta answered the question What is the worst thing about Indian schools? on Quora in a different way.
In today’s post, “Everything wrong with Indian schools 101”.
- What is being taught: Everything. Without any thought about its relevance to the job industry. An outdated curriculum. And an inflexible one. “Read this”. “And this too”. “No, you don’t get to choose your subjects, not at least until the last 2 years of your schooling”.
- How it is being taught: “Take notes, kids”. “Copy everything that is there on the board”. “Reproduce it verbatim in the examinations to get full credit”. 90% of the ‘teaching’ happens in closed classrooms where all students face the teacher who delivers hour-long monologues.
- The dangerous obsession with scores, grades, and benchmarks: There’s the class topper. And then 2 more kids in the top 3. That is what you should strive for. To be the ‘best’ among 50 other kids and outscore your classmates. To mindlessly memorize facts and figures and solve questions in the books because the same would appear, verbatim, in the examinations. (Because teachers don’t want to go the extra mile to come up with questions that truly test if someone has really understood a particular concept).
- The student-teacher dynamic. Or the lack of one: The teacher dictates. The students listen. Questioning the teacher’s methods is wrong. After all, they know better. “Don’t ask stupid questions.” Learn to keep quiet. Follow the herd.
- All work and no play makes Jack an ideal student: You will only get one ‘sports’ class every week. And that too can be grabbed by your Chemistry teacher because playing is a waste of time. Plus, we don’t have the money to buy decent sports gear.
- “Of the students, for the students, by the administration”: The lack of student representation in decision making is appalling. Even the student body comprising of the various representatives (overall, sports, cultural, academics) is a farce. They are nothing more than a communication medium for the administration. Like the rest of the world, schools are run by old, senile people deciding the fate of the young ones.
- The perverse incentive structure for teachers: Teaching is indeed a noble profession. Perhaps the noblest of them all. Yet, we continue to pay our teachers the bare minimum. For most teachers, it isn’t their passion. Just the last resort. The stellar students go on to make a career in a high-paying industry. The average ones migrate to academia.
- Parents: Student suicides are a reality. A disturbing one sure, but a reality nonetheless. Everything wrong with the Indian education system has finally, over the years, festered into a metaphorical demon that demands the occasional blood sacrifice. Instead of recognizing that different kids have different developmental needs and aptitude, our society still treats everyone with a common yardstick. Kids who are not able to live up to the (exorbitant) expectations of their parents, and having no other support structure, often choose the devastating option of ending their lives.
It is way past the time we should have changed the way our schools teach students. After all, they are the grassroots of the education system.
If they put aside their profit-making attitude and focus on making every child realise his/her potential, the future will be very different for India.
A good future.
This answer is published after taking appropriate permission from the Quora author.