The Debt We Owe To Society
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Education is the necessary evil that most of us find meaningless when we go through the rigors of early morning school, the drills, and the fitness classes. Ask a student what he or she enjoys the most and the answer, in most cases, will revolve around something other than education.
Our present education system caters to the principle of probability where each student must undergo a number of courses, covering different subjects. These could range from history to biology, from arts to science, from commerce to computers and so much more.
With all due respect, the educators try their level best to help students prepare for various career fields at an early age so each individual could see and decide what interests him/her the most. It has worked remarkably well thus far. However, the Million Dollar question is for how long the same system will continue to work and still feed the growing demand for talent in innovative fields.
We are in the midst of a huge paradigm shift. With the fast-looming changes powered by universal connectivity, Smart Sensors, Augmented Reality, Machine Intelligence, Robotics, Drones, and Self-driving Automobiles, we need to take urgent steps to make changes in the school curriculum at an early stage. The present-day system of Vocational Studies past High School is likely to create a huge gap in demand and supply equation where qualified talent is concerned.
We are already well aware of the technical skills and the super fast learning capabilities of present-day toddlers. These kids are born with technical skills. They do not need to read a User Manual before playing with a Smart Phone or an iPad. Their mother tongue is not what the parents speak at home. Rather, it is technology, more like techno-geek.
The majority of the present-day adult population will remember how difficult it was to have a Personal Computer twenty years ago. Cellular telephones were a huge fad that only the rich could afford.
Owning an automobile was a dream for the teenagers so they could hit the movie stands with their newfound love in their arms. This is the scene from a developed country.
On the contrary, those in the developing world had to struggle to go to the high school. University education used to be a dream that majority could never see fulfilled. Rest everything else was a sheer luxury.
With the change in dynamics, growth in the Internet connectivity segment and easier access to cheaper products, courtesy global competition through e-commerce, we have a large reservoir of young blood rearing to embrace newer technology and run with it to new heights.
It is our responsibility, as caring adults, to ensure they have access to all the necessary tools to exploit the open chest of competitive enterprise where innovation is the ‘Mantra.’
Keeping in view the above scenario, I must mention that I have no intention to ‘overturn the entire apple-cart’ so to say. Where young students are required to study five or more subjects, for a lengthy duration anywhere from five to eight years during schooling, we should look at honing their skills at the Elementary level.
By the time a child turns ten, he/she should have enough technical skills and clear picture of the oncoming changes in mind to decide on the most promising field of study. Of course, the same parents that feel overjoyed at their toddler’s antics shall be obliged to help frame his/her future.
Education for the sake of education may offer a living wage but learn the skills needed for future growth and to tackle challenging opportunities needs a more drastic action plan. It is the responsibility of our administrators to take note of the urgent need for improvisation towards a total change in school curriculum over the next four to five years at best. Any more delay in rising to the call may bear unpleasant consequences that we MUST be prepared to face.
An excellent and very timely quote from Abraham Lincoln comes to my mind at this moment: “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” In such a sweet tone, he tells us to let the oncoming generation care for its own growth. We must STOP imposing our own, at times archaic, systems, studies, methodologies and other beliefs that may not help them at the same pace they absolutely need to thrive.
Let us take a serious note of the changing fundamentals, and start preparing for a more conducive environment for the next generation, so it may also use needed education and prepare for a better tomorrow!