Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are we getting our children ready for the future?

1970: The Year I was born. My parents would have probably dreamt of me becoming a doctor or an engineer at best. And then they embarked on that long journey of providing me the best that they could afford. At the same time, I was offered the most respectable education anyone could have afforded then. Hats Off to those two individuals who helped shape my life.

1982: I went to Modern School, N. Delhi to study on a scholarship that would ensure any child a future that he could dream of, or at least he was capable of. Hats Off to my teachers who put in that effort in making me the way I am.

1993: I passed out of Indo-Swiss Training Center, Chandigarh with a job in my hand that would ensure that I could "enjoy" my bachelorhood with friends watching movies and just having a good time. Hats Off to my instructors at the college who made me learn everything the hard way!

1999: I passed out of Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, again with a job that was roughly five times my salary before the presumably prestigious MBA degree. Hats Off to my professors who made me worthy enough to earn more than I deserved!

2009: I wonder if for a teacher/ mentor that I am now for a lot of students and colleagues, am I truly equipped with all the skills needed to groom them. And as an after-thought, did my worthy teachers in my lifespan know if they were actually getting me ready for a life two decades hence. Or were they getting me ready for a life post school/ college!

One of my favourite videos (thanks to Tushar Tamhane for showing this to me) actually delves deeper into these questions:

I also wonder if the skills taught in our Management Schools should have been taught in school, or even pre-school. Skills like team-work, problem-solving, emotional intelligence etc. My history teacher who wanted us to remember all dates like Akbar-Shahjehan's birth and death years, couldn't have imagined in late 1980's that there could be a device sitting in my hand that would deliver these answers and many more with just a few finger movements. My nursery teacher who insisted (thankfully) on good hand-writting and spelling, couldn't have possibly imagined that I wouldn't be touching my pen on paper for more than 200 characters a day, and my spellings could be checked automatically. And who cares about spellings anyway in the age of twitters and smses!

The point is this: Are we, as mentors to the latest generation, doing justice to them by teaching them from the same (ok, with some changes) textbooks and subjects (ok, similar looking subjects) that we used to learn from 3 decades back?