Thursday, 11 September 2014

Our education system needs a rethinking

Image courtesy - The Huffington Post

Today, in the lift in my building, I met a 4th or 5th standard schoolboy carrying a heavy bulging school-bag on his back. He looked sharp and brilliant. But he was drenched in sweat in a fine weather and had his back bent in a curve because of the weight. He was returning back from school. Normally kids carry typical nonchalance and endearing mood and would unknowingly spread the joy. But that look of him told that he already was feeling the weight of responsibility and school had turned out to be an occupation for him. And this isn't just one kid. It is the same story when I see the others.

That one look of the boy trigged the reminiscent imagery of my own school days. It didn't take me time to understand that India's education system hasn't changed much (except for the instant gratification of giving non-deserving institutions prestigious tags by our government), and if at all, it hasn't changed positively.

I mean... How can that boy be thinking of the new learnings and new hobbies to surprise me and you of his achievements in an astonishingly young age. How can he be picking up a new sports or really understanding the meaning of his being with the pristine brain a child possesses when we instruct him to lead a life under instructions-get up early in the morning, go to school, come back to home, take lunch, do you homework, be obedient, get higher rank in class otherwise you are a waste . How can he be thinking on his own and getting curious of small and big facts that the world bestows on that little mind when we say all that? How can he discover his REAL potential? Let me close the scope of this question within the boundaries of our country. How can we make fantastic citizens of tomorrow who are not made up by impositions like a potter makes pottery but are actually self-discovered and self-evolved like the coral reefs - diverse, rich, health-giving and beautiful. Each one as beautiful and important as the other and not ranked on the basis of how-much-oxygen-did-you-produce-yesterday? I only imagine how can we have a truly beautiful education system where these kids will not be ranked and classified but will be understood and flourished in their unique ways.

May be what I implicitly suggested is a fairy tale proposition. Since the economy needs jobs and jobs needs employees, employees come from colleges and colleges demand certain qualifications and RANKS, the suggestion seems least plausible on first thought. But just for a moment let us think over what I call the Bonsai Model. Consider the economic engine of country be the flora - trees and big plants which actually do the photosynthesis- where all the real work happens. If we shrink all these big trees to a small proportion of their size they become bonsais. Now if the bonsais were children and did all the work similarly on smaller scale while developing and being curious and having fun, the whole bonsai fraternity when normalised into trees will function just right without any fight and without being boring. Each will have his/her important place in the flora.

The outcome of it will be a system in which where there will be plenty of jobs and plenty of fields to work have fun in. The students or employees will be really confident and would upfront know what they are doing and why they are doing. They will all be originals. Another way to look at this said goal is this. Either make more and more fake prestigious institutions or make it irrelevant for a child to join a prestigious institution at all. The prestige should be the outcome of the right choice taken by the right talent, not by the by-product of the MATHEMATICALLY NORMALISED ranking system.

At the end, let me leave you with a dream school where teachers will let students to perform and flourish in the following real world subjects- Lego, music, maths, movies, comedy, astronomy, comics, radio, rock and rap, humanity, machines, computers, nature, animals, oceans, business, robots, acting, poetry, history, dance, gardening, science and sports. Let students fit themselves in amongst these choices and the outcome would be a beautiful coral reef, healthy and happy. That may probably be the most robust act of nation building.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

I, India, Inflection

It's been long since I've written a post. Well, the hiatus is broken by an occasion.

Something has changed. Today, I'm standing at an inflection point. I now formally dive in the unknown, in the dark. I'm starting up. Oh yes, I'm leaving behind a comfortable office, salary and security for 24x7 work, zero package and non-predictability.

It's latent in the information that the decision and occasion must churn some emotional whirlpool within me. But, most interestingly, I feel nothing. Happy-no. Fear-no. Remorse-nope. None. It so happens, while I'm writing this post, I hope to better understand what really I'm feeling. But that is not the objective. This post is not about an introspective analytical me. It's about a situational resemblance between me and my country - India.

In 2014, India chose development over dynasty. The incumbent Prime Minister is a result of a huge wave of hopes and dreams of an ailing population. India has shown so much faith in him that if it doesn't work out in next few years, some say, the hopes will never gather again to such an extent. So, in that case, government will never be decisive; we will never be able to compete with China and US. India, in that perspective, has taken a dive in the unknown, in the dark.

Yes, anything can happen.

If India gets positively Modi-fied we may be able to catchup with China in manufacturing and with US in research. We may be able to attain a negative brain drain and display a technological prowess in the world. We may. Or if it gets negatively Modi-fied, well.... let's just stay positive.

But how exactly it will happen? In one line, it can't be described in one line. The aspirations are so diverse and multi-faceted that no agenda can inclusively lay down the track to be followed. It's unpredictable. (There, India is starting up). But one thing is certain. It will require an emotionally charged up and positively aligned youngistan. And it will require business. Lack of infrastructure, corruption and un-organized markets. You know... there is a huge scope for new businesses to come and contribute here. We have done some good work in e-commerce and IT. There are a dozen of sectors to champion. There is a lot to cover.

And the good news is, the rising has already started. Just see the India Startup Report and you will know. We have started to apply ourselves HERE. ( Just now I felt happy :)  ). Oh it's going to be exciting. Let me also join the wave.

Time to work!