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?


Sumit Mehta said…
thought provoking.. i hope indus is doin something about it..!!
Anirudh Phadke said…
Well, we are definitely trying to...but its not easy to resist most parents' thinking.
Sojo Varughese said…
Hopefully, our teachers will eventually learn to incorporate student-talk and collaboration into their lesson plans. But they will need a lot of support to do this. As a teacher, I know, I teach the way I was taught. May be we should make our teachers experience the new ways of learning and help them be reflective practitioners. I think this will help us address the issue of children learning the basic social skills early on so that we can take our professional courses to the next level without them having to waste their time focusing on teaching people social skills. Hoping for the best.

Beautifully written. I wish lots of teachers read you.
I wish we could redefine certain terms we use so often and so recklessly.. 'Teaching' 'Social skills' 'mentoring' etc etc.. The author is lucky... to have been groomed in a good school & college.. the real story of the millions of children in the lesser known schools following the most outdated stuff are very different.. and probably product of the very education system we have.. the effort required to change a teacher's mindset is tremendous.. and exhausting.. it is a person with extraordinary passion that can take on a journey like this.. :)
Anirudh Phadke said…
Sojo/ Sandhya, the argument mostly remains that if IITians are what they are with what they learnt in school, why should we change at all. And the answer lies therein. There is a change whose rate is largely a multiplier of what it used to be. A current student will have to foresee all the changes, and the teacher is perhaps the most powerful entity to make her realize that! The challenges are plenty...but then there are enough people out there to take them on. We only need to enable them.

Thanks for the encouragement!
prajyot said…
Superb Post Sir,
I liked the recent post a lot...
Dear Sir,

We are a teacher training and school support organization. To make interaction between teachers from different schools possible, we have launched a Page on Facebook. Please do visit the page and join us. Link to our Facebook Page

The Teacher Foundation, Bangalore

Lokesh said…
Succinct and yet rich in content! Awesome post! the first half took me to the memory lanes. I don't have a extra ordinary profile, but still its product of my parents and teachers effort.
In secondhalf you have said it all about our education system. its good that visionaries like you have actually taken steps forward to bridge the knowing-doing gap. Thanks to people like you in decades to come India wil be better place to live.

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