Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his interaction with students spoke about the importance of a joyful childhood, of children experiencing joy and thrill of learning something new, of children being children. A few days ago, one of my articles on education focusing on this very aspect of bringing joy back to the school was published in a news-magazine.
Do a small experiment. For a week closely watch children walking to school or waiting for their school buses in the morning. You would have a slim chance of seeing bright young faces enthusiastic about school and learning.
Where has all the joy gone from education? Has school become an institution like any other? Have schoolbags with weighty books and notebooks for subjects that most children will never find real-world applications become a burden? Has pressure peaked to score in exams to launch professional careers? And is there additional constraint to compete with friends to get ahead in a cutthroat world? Perhaps it is all these things and more.
The results are appalling. At an age when children should be joyous, curious and questing to know, the system sucks out all the happiness of learning. Today’s education follows an industrial model synonymous with training. Learners are trained; “good” schools and colleges train rather well. Primary considerations are acing in exams, sailing through job interviews, and winning promotions. What about training for happiness? Sorry, that is not on the curriculum.
It should be. Schooling is a critical aspect of childhood and adolescence. It should be blissful, nurture the spirit, and lead to the discovery of life and the world. Reasoning, insight, creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit derive their early foundations there.