March, 2017

Ashoka University hosts Annual School Leaders Summit of 2017

By Gauri Jhangiani

The major part of my school education was at The Shri Ram School – Aravali in Gurgaon. My school laid emphasis on education outside the classroom. We didn’t have exams till standard 8th and had classes which involved activities rather than just reading from a book. However, how many schools were actually like mine? Many children are often forced by schools and the system to write exams from a young age which will have no impact on their lives other than causing stress which is absolutely unnecessary.

On the 24th of February, Ashoka University hosted its Annual School Leaders Summit of 2017. School principals and vice-principals from all across the country came for this prestigious event. There were two panels, of which I had the prestige of sitting through the second, which was on ‘Conventional and Contemporary Ways of Education: Learning as a Two-Way Street. The hour-long session was conducted by Madhavi Menon, Professor of English who was in conversation with Aditya Natraj, the CEO of the Kaivalya Foundation; Mr. Alok Mathur, the director of teaching education at Rishi Valley Schools; and Ms. Divya Bhivedi, the vice-principal of Mayo College Girls School.

Some interesting points came up in the conversation. It was all-around agreed by the panelists as well as the audience that the current education system in schools is dissatisfying. There was also a general consensus that board exams and inflation of marks were damaging to students and stifled their creativity and natural curiosity. Teachers questioned how they could make material interesting for students and were told that in order to do so they had to change the entire dynamic through emotional education and relating to the students. The question we need to address is how can we have an education system which blends the conventional and contemporary ways of education.

For an effective student-teacher dynamic, the panelists suggested connecting with students on an emotional level and allowing a relationship of comfort to develop between students and teachers. There are methodologies of dual-learning which allow both students and teachers to learn. However, not many schools apply a method in which students have an equal right to speak. I have worked with children as part of community service and have found that very often, they do not know concepts of their level because if they do not understand a concept in school and ask their teachers, the teachers are not very supportive.

While all the teachers agreed that the board exams are a problem, they were not in favour of eradicating them from the system. I see my brother, who will give his class 10 ICSE exams in a few weeks, going through the same struggle of having to constantly recollect information verbatim. It bothers me that schools have the power to change this, but choose not to.

The Summit was important as it questioned the current education system and ways of teaching. Education is essential to growth and development of both the individual and the nation and India desperately needs to work towards a brighter future in which there is equity of opportunity and an enriching education for all.

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