Educational standards in India have been deteriorating in recent times. Assessments of Indian school students by two different entities are indeed discomfiting. In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test held by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for South and South-East Asia, India was second last — barely nosing out Kyrgyzstan. Incidentally, China topped the assessment.
If that seems like some consolation – wait. The ‘Annual Status of Education Report, 2011′ (ASER) released in January 2012 by NGO Pratham revealed that reading scores across India have declined by 5 per cent over 2010. Worse, only 30 per cent children in Class 3 and two-thirds in Class 5 could solve simple two-digit problems – a 6 per cent decline over 2010.
Rote Learning’s Limitations
Barely two years after the Right to Education Act was cleared, what ails Indian education? The problem: the wrong focus. Presently, authorities are simply seized with ensuring that all children are educated. While there’s nothing apparently wrong with this, it simply reduces education to statistics. The responsibility for ensuring students learn and imbibe what’s taught is missing. Rote learning only works up to a point.
In today’s hyper-competitive environment, rote learning without comprehension won’t take students far. For example, rote learning only works with standard questions. Re-frame the same questions from another angle and students schooled in rote learning cannot comprehend them and respond appropriately.
Fortunately, solutions to surmount such learning problems exist. Simply pinpoint the actual problem and then choose the right solution. Instead of rote methods used in traditional teaching, schools should use modern means such as introducing interactivity and personalisation in education. In this regard, Digital Learning and Interactive Education methodologies can provide solutions. Digital Learning uses modern gadgets such as computers and tablet PCs — something today’s generation is most comfortable with.
Digital Learning Revolution
In fact, students have taken to technology like ducks to water. This compatibility between the students’ receptive minds and the limitless possibilities of digital technology has led to paradigm shifts in the K-12 (primary and secondary levels) education system globally. Where adults were once befuddled by fast technological transformations sweeping the globe, children welcomed these swift changes.
The truth about this transformation is gradually becoming evident as schools slowly adopt interactive classroom teaching and virtual learning systems by using information and communication technology. Of course, the transition from traditional teaching methodologies to modern modules has had hiccups at some stages. The reservations, paradoxically, were voiced by teachers and parents, not students.
But as more schools embraced technology, the sceptics realised the value of what they’ve been missing. Modern education transcends the brick walls of classrooms, as well as the borders and boundaries of nations. As education becomes an interactive voyage of discovery on colourful computer screens, students of all ages discover exciting prospects in studies. Digital teaching modules offer integrated solutions that assist teachers in classrooms via the use of software, hardware and school support services. Once considered just a ‘job’ by teachers and ‘dull and dreary’ by students, interactive learning has now become an enriching experience.
Moreover, interactive learning promotes critical thinking among students, too. Students no longer accept what the teacher says at face value. They are unafraid to pose unconventional questions that cannot be answered via stereotyped responses. Students would earlier think twice before replying. Today, teachers need to marshal their facts before answering offbeat queries. Such interactions fuel the creative thought processes of not just students but teachers, too.
(The author is CEO, Classteacher Learning Systems.)