I had originally written this post on Quora as an answer to the question “Given a chance to design Indian Education system, How would you do that?“
I’ll be dissecting the teaching methods employed at school level for different subjects:
Be it English,Hindi or any regional language,emphasis is placed on memorising the lines said by various characters in the different short stories and recommended books(remember the “who said the above lines to whom” questions?). Most questions asked in exams pertain to the speaker of a certain dialogue, the listener, the location and the context of the passage. This is undoubtedly a redundant way of teaching, as it reduces what is a beautiful field of study to rubble filled with facts and figures.
Literature can be a powerful medium to encourage students to think for themselves.Rather than focussing on rote-learning all the passages, students should be encouraged to understand the theme,philosophy and message behind a story/poem. Instead of Shakespeare, students should be made to read(not “study”) relatively modern literature like Ayn Rand,Sherlock Holmes, Jeffrey Archer and the like.Likewise for Indian languages. I’ve noticed that Shakespearan literature can be a huge turn off for adolescents who want to develop a reading habit, and they would be far more interested in reading modern writings.
“You should memorize the Indian freedom struggle. It always comes for 8 marks. ”
We have all heard a teacher utter this sentence at least once.The current system tends to place more emphasis on dates, names and rules and regulations under the XYZ Act of a time long past.Therefore students are made to learn the topics by heart, instead of being encouraged to analyse different events in history.
As a subject, History is a wonderful platform for young minds to learn about politics,strategic planning and of course, our rich heritage. It should enable students to understand the global political landscape, and the cost of history repeating itself.
Does it really matter whether you know or don’t know what sort of forest can be found in XYZ country? Or what is the average height of some mountain range in a country 5000 miles away?
While some aspects of the subject are certainly important, such as learning about important minerals, ports, highways, international borders etc., the extra information about types of forests,land topography etc. serves no purpose.
3.Science and Mathematics:
These might be the few subjects that the system has properly configured to an extent, but work still remains to be done. Science subjects are placed at a much higher pedestal than others, as they are the gateway to the much-coveted science-based streams in higher standards such as engineering and medical. Therefore there is no room for creativity, and all students become embroiled in a rat-race. Creativity should be encouraged at an early stage so as to inculcate innovation-based thinking among students.