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                         HOW EDUCATIONISTS ARE CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF EDUCATION


"I remember the first that a grading rubric was attached to a piece of my writing….Suddenly all the joy was taken away.  I was writing for a grade -- I was no longer exploring for me.  I want to get that back.  Will I ever time get that back?"

                                                   -- Claire, a student (in Olson, 2006)

( this story was mentioned  by Alfie Kohn , a renowned education  reformer  in one of his articles)

Ask anyone what is education and he will clearly state that it is all about literacy and academics.

Most of the Schools across the world are working under the factory model of  nineteenth century Industrial revolution . Public schools supplied factories with a skilled labor force, and provided basic literacy to the masses. This was the education that the vast majority of the population receive everywhere around the globe.

If we look more deeply we can clearly see that Schools operate similarly to ‘assembly lines’. The school assembly line is divided  into years. Students are sorted by age. Every day students receive instruction on specific subject. Every subject is taught during a fixed time period in the day. Students are then tested on each subject to see if they meet the ‘standards’, so they can move along the line. Finally they receive their stamp of approval (diploma) at the end of the line.(a perfect factory model).
                Where is the Creativity by the way ?

Another blunder is the assessment itself; Psychologists Maehr and Midgley studied the effects of ‘assessments on student’s learning’, they concluded in these words, “an overemphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence”.  For me the  joy of reading can easily be taken away by a teacher who always  judge a child by his ‘reading skills’.

The ugliest fact  which gives  school  a complete factory like model  is the fact that the  Term ‘Standardized ‘ is being attached with  assessments. Factories always rely on the standardization of their products, so is the school.  How can a ‘standardized test’ determine the vast differences of talents and imaginations of different children  ? It can’t, so they just ‘kill the creativity factor’ of each and every child on a way towards standardization.

Einstein ridiculed the modern education system with these words, ““Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?” This simple statement is a challenge for our modern day educationists.

What I think personally that there is some value in ‘assessing the quality of learning’ but it doesn’t mean it should be quantified into numbers . Learning cannot be ‘measured in numbers’. How can I quantify a piece of writing which is above spelling mistakes?

 Its doesn’t ends here, ‘Grading’ is the next step to humiliate children. Researchers are proving  that grades kills the natural human  curiosity ,suppress intrinsic motivation ,  invoke a ‘preference for the easiest possible task’ in students and finally  they reduce the quality of children’s thinking from “How can we be sure that’s true?”  to  “Is this going to be on the test?

To kill the ‘creativity’ permanently, schools are praising certain subjects like Mathematics and Science which demand  precision and accuracy at the cost of others like different kinds of Arts which promotes ‘divergent thinking and creativity’. Now the world economy is thriving towards ‘creativity’ but the schools are busy suppressing it.

The book published last year “One Size Doesn’t Fit All; A Student’s  Assessment Of School” by Nikhil Goyal  took into account the ‘Prison –system of schools and how it is damaging the young brains. A 17- year old Goyal indicates bluntly, “we are forced to sit at desks, shut up, listen, and raise our hands to speak. By the time we make it out of high school, we have been taught to think just like everyone around us, and our ability to think critically or creatively has been squandered. What’s worse, we fail to ask questions and we fear risks, because all of our formidable years were spent spitting out “right answers” instead of being taught to inquire and think for ourselves to solve problems”.

Maria Montessori reveals it in these words,
"The basic error is to suppose that a person's Will must necessary be broken before it can obey, meaning before it can accept and follow another person's directions. Were this reasoning to be applied to Intellectual Education ,we should have to destroy a person's mind before we could give him any Knowledge".
(THE ABSORBENT MIND)

After a short survey of the schools in my local area, I came to the conclusion that Educationist needs to Re-define Education, they have to change the mindsets, they have to bring the ‘Paradigm shift’ and that’s what we need it desperately.

 The new definition of education will not be accepted until it caters the individuality and creativity of each child without Stamping him ‘passed’ or ‘failed’.

I love the TED TALK of Sir Ken Robinson released last year on You tube. He said boldly challenging the mainstream education ,“The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.”
Ken Robinson, in his book, ‘The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything’.
 
 
 
 
More  can be said and written but I would love to end up with the brilliant words of one of the most amazing Educationist of the world, Maria Montessori.

"How can we speak of Democracy or Freedom when from the very beginning of life we mould the child to undergo tyranny, to obey a dictator? How can we expect democracy  when we have reared slaves?  Real freedom begins at the beginning of life , not at the adult stage. These people who have been diminished in their powers, made short- sighted, devitalized by mental fatigue, whose  bodies have become distorted,  whose wills have been broken by elders who says, “you will
 must disappear and mine prevail! How can we expect them when school life is finished – to accept and use the Rights of Freedom?"
 Maria Montessori -  Education for a New World.

Last but not the least are the words of the Vice president of Google, Marissa Mayer, “You can’t understand Google, unless you know that both Larry and Sergey were Montessori  kids.” She’s referring to schools based on the  philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who believed that children should be allowed the freedom to pursue their interests. “In a Montessori school, you go paint because you have something to express or you just want to do it that afternoon, not because the teacher said so,” she says. “This is baked into how Larry and Sergey approach problems. They’re always asking, why should it be like that? It’s the way their brains were programmed early on.”
 
     
                                     
                                           Written by Erum
                                           Montessori Directress