Take any two children in the world. They are completely different from each other. Aren't they? One of the fundamental truths about human beings is their diversity. Human beings are inherently diverse both in aptitudes & intelligence. Diversity is the common currency of being human.
All children are born with tremendous talents. but we squander them ruthlessly. The purpose of our education system should be to create conditions where these talents show up themselves. Paradoxically it seems that the fundamental principles underlying our present education system are inherently at odds with the purpose of exploiting those talents & fostering creativity..
Every education system is based on a hierarchy of subjects based on their relative significance in an industrial economy. At the top is the mathematics & at the bottom is the arts. This hierarchy is based on a principle that most useful subjects for work are given a higher status. This is because our education system actually came into being to meet the demands of industrialism. The policy makers designed the system to produce workers for that economic era. There is no education system that teaches dance to the students the way we teach them mathematics. So most often than not children are forced away from subjects they had apptitide for because they wouldn't get a job.
The present system dislocates people of their innate tendencies or aptitudes. That is why most people go through their entire lives never knowing what their talents might be or make poor use of them. They never enjoy what they do. Simply what you were good at wasn't valued in school. The system allowing children to chose between a narrow range of subjects educates them out of thier creative capacities. Both research & experience has shown that students flourish in broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents.
The second problem is that our conception of human intelligence over the course of time has came to be dominated by our idea of academic ability & those who do not get better scores in a narrow range of subjects offered at schools are not valued & sometimes stigmatised. That is precisely the reason many of our extraordinarily talented children drop out of the system thinking they aren't talented at anything, no matter how much financial allocations you earmark for it. This is because human flourishing is not a mechanical process . It is an organic process resembling principles of agriculture. You can't predict the outcome by merely spending money, providing infrastructure. Human resources are like natural resources. They are often buried beneath. What we are supposed to do is to create conditions like a farmer whereby the seeds of possibility sprout to life. Given the right conditions life is inevitable.
Every child who drops out of the school has a reason for it. The curriculum offered may not resonate with his spirit. It doesn't speak of his most authentic self. He might find odds with the life he spends outside. One of real challenges is to innovate fundamentally in education. At the heart of this challenge is to reconstitute our conception of ability, intelligence & human capacities. We know many things about intelligence. One is it is diverse. We think of world in every way we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound , we think kinesthetically, we think in abstract, we think in movement. Second is it is wonderfully interactive & it is distinct. Today we talk about multiple intelligence. Our education system needs to be revolutionised to accommodate this diversity in human intelligence & creativity.
One of the principles of present system is the idea of linearity. The system of education offers you a linear path that is if u follow the path memorise facts, get good grades in annual examination or a job entrance you will appear settled for the rest of your life. It seems that the whole point of present education system is a protracted process of job entrance. Perhaps the pinnacle of of that accomplishment is to get you to IAS. Aspirants seen spending sleepless nights, adopting rote learning methods to memorize huge factual information only to regurgitate it in civil service examination. A pernicious trend of everyone crazy to get on to the bandwagon of securing a rank in IAS not giving a dmnn thought to what their talents and passions might be. We shouldn't hold IAS officers as high watermark of all human achievement. It is just a form of life. Life is not linear it is organic we create our lives symbiotically as we explore our talents in relation to the circumstances that help us to create. We need to recognise that human communities depend on a diversity of talent not a single conception of ability..
Picasso once said all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as one grows up. To me all children are born scientists.They are natural explorers. They are instinctually curious & inquisitive. Their natural approach to learning is practical. They will take a chance inquiring about anything. They are not afraid of being wrong. Nobody can come up with anything novel if he isn't ready of being wrong.
A common trait between the scientist and a child is curiosity. It is a real achievement in education to put that particular ability out or to stifle it. If teachers ignite the spark of curiosity in students, they will learn & innovate without any further assistance. In place of curiosity our system puts emphasis on the culture of compliance. When we rebuke a child who bangs on our household pans we are squashing an experiment in acoustics.
Another principle in present education system is the culture of standardisation. There are two types of systems to quality assurance catering. Fast food restaurants where everything is standardised. Restaurants where everything is not standardised but customized to individual customer needs. The whole point of education should be to get children to learn. Instead of focusing more on learning, the focus is on testing. Standardised tests do have a role. But they should not be the dominant culture to determine winners and lossers. They should be be diagnostic. We have sold ourselves to fast food model of education that is depleting our talents in he same way fast food is depleting our physical bodies.
Unless given autonomy, support, respect & high status we can't expect to bring highly competent & professionally committed people into the system. I do believe that high status & professional development of teachers is not a cost . It is an investment. Because the whole ship of education with entire society on board that is meant to take us to the future we can't predict at the moment is under their steering, it is indispensable that we treat them with extreme caution if we are to guarunte a safe journey to the destination..