The current form of the Indian education system has transformed into an unrealistic and riddled with a huge baggage of historical blunders on the policies and implementations parts. To partly unset it, the Government of India's proposed Draft National Education Policy 2019 does a systematic effort to correct those blunders and re-connect with some of our antiquities with a sense of belonging. The draft policy also rightly sets its core focus with a historical background of the country's ancient knowledge systems which are universal then as well as now.
Therefore, the current attempt to bring structural changes in the Indian education system envisages a broad-based approach without eroding the ethos of constitutional principles and national interests which have been benchmarked in all of the previous major policy changes since independence. Moreover, for the first time, the draft national education policy has come with a definite timeframe for implementation.
Thus, it is worth to study the entire document before making any judgmental views with pre-conceived notions and isms of failed experiences of the last seven decades. But many people become a bitter critique of the draft policy by misusing their popular forums to voice reservations on the draft policy and that's too in general note without even going through the draft policy. Instead of outright rejecting the draft policy, constructive criticism is more meaningful in public discourse and always helps the vision entrusted in the draft policy to take forward; after all, we all agree that the current education system needed a drastic change. Here is the opportunity after several decades.
The draft policy is a great leap forward and has a comprehensive vision covering all major streams which would embark on a new era of the meaningful education system for all segments of children and students of the 21st century. The concerns would be how dynamic the close cooperation between Centre and State/UT Governments in the implementation of the policy. The draft policy emphasizes the need for greater leverages to provide value addition to the country's economy which is striving for paradigm shifts in societal and economic development glowing with inclusive and equitable distributions among all sections of the society in the globalized era. The knowledge economy is also behind us knocking with huge demand for human capital which should be abreast with the technological revolution and scientific tempers to grape the opportunities available globally.
What is striking is most of the current mainstream debates about draft new education policy has been stressed from merely sociological and economic perspectives instead of a psychological point of view which is the need of the hour for future generations. The principles of psychology and methods of teaching it provides are far more important than the principles of sociology and economics for imparting meaningful education to children.
There are well established proven learning systems through psychological methods of teaching young minds which surely helps children to learn and progress faster than we expect; as well as they would be wise enough to socialize with other fellow children and earn better. Moreover, what permeates the children to learn about is psychological approach rather than sociological and economic methods of teaching which are not followed globally as best models and we have seen the consequence of it in India in the past seven decades.
Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, wrote quite vividly in one of his early books titled Essentials of Psychology (1912), that "The basis of educational theory is psychology. Education has for its aim the Complete and harmonious development of the different functions of man. "What those are and how they develop are problems of psychology. Every educator must have a full knowledge of the nature of the mind which it is his business to bring into fullness and maturity. A knowledge of child-mind is therefore necessary for a teacher. Again, any method of teaching opposed to psychological principles is false. Psychology thus affords the negative touchstone of the true method of teaching." These aspects have been rightly imbibed in the current draft new education policy. But unfortunately, these aspects were ignored in the last seventy years of education since independence.
In fact, in the current B.Ed., course, the Psychology subject has been included as one of the core subjects, but most study the subject for the sake of passing with minimum marks in the final exams! Ignoring the psychological approach to teaching children has reflected negatively in the children's ability to learn about language and subjects. According to the draft policy, at present, the country has 17,000 teacher education institutions, of which 92 percent of them are privately owned with poor quality like any other commercial shops selling some commodities! There is no policy to promote competition among them to improve quality and efficiency in teacher education. To reform the current system of teacher education, the draft policy rightly proposes for the four-year inter-grated degree for teacher education along with two years for lateral entry option.
Indeed, creating an education system to have the physical presence of children is quite different from engaging them to have fruitful learning of things with their keen observations with cognitive skills in the classroom process. Generally, children in schools and students in higher institutions have immense observation potentials for learning of things that matter in life and about different languages and subjects. The teachers, contents, and tools of technology cannot be separated for imparting comprehensive good quality of education to children. Though, the process of learning for children has become more complex with the revolutionary changes in information and communication technologies which have negative implications on children's psychology in their overall growth of learning processes, especially at the early stages.
According to the new draft, national education policy "The learning process for a child commences immediately at birth. Evidence from neuroscience shows that over 85% of a child's cumulative brain development occurs prior to the age of 6, indicating the critical importance of developmentally appropriate care and stimulation of the brain in a child's early years to promote sustained and healthy brain development and growth."
Thus, children's learning would be more meaningful if only we introduce the subject matters to them in a more informal way of narrating and guiding them to grasp it without much difficulty. This is very crucial for teachers who have to approach the subject matters in a psychological method to simplify the pedagogic matters lucidly to attract the cognitive capacity of children to grasp it. Each young mind has its own pace of observation capacity and we should not impose the brutality of matching with one and all.
This method of helping children to grasp needs little more carefully designed pedagogy content with psychological approaches which also helps the teachers to understand the observation capacity of children. A wise teacher often finds no difficulty in explaining to children even the highly complex problems because of their wide experience in teaching the particular subject in a more psychological way of thinking with applications of mind by giving multiple examples to narrate matters.
Sri Aurbindo Ghose (1872-1950) expressed thoughtfully about the importance of the national education system in a book titled A System of National Education (1921), wherein he profoundly emphasizes how to nurture children and three principles of "true teaching" of young minds. According to him "Almost every child has an imagination, an instinct for words, a dramatic faculty, a wealth of idea and fancy. These should be interested in the literature and history of the Nation." And he further went on "Every child is an inquirer, an investigator, analyser, a merciless anatomist. Appeal to those qualities in him and let him acquire without knowing it the right temper and the necessary fundamental knowledge of the Scientist. Every child has an insatiable intellectual curiosity and turn for metaphysical enquiry." Recognizing these aspects upfront in a broad-based process of education system helps the parents and teachers to inculcate the young minds.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) also said more than a century ago "The present system of education is all, wrong. The mind is crammed with facts before it knows how to think. Control of mind must be taught first. If I had my education to get over again and had any voice in the matter, I would learn to master my mind first, and then gather facts if I wanted them. It takes people a long time to learn things because they can't concentrate their minds at will."
Therefore, teachers and the method of psychological way of approach to teaching young minds is at most important than merely having an imperfect content in any education system in which we expect the fine quality of characteristics in grownup children. According to Aurbindo, the first principle of teaching is "teacher is not an Instructor or Taskmaster, he is helper, and a guide…suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupils mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process". However, it becomes quite normal in the contemporary school education system in India wherein most of the parents and teachers invariably imposes on children to learn with rote learning methods without any application of mind. These teachers and parents not only stifle their mind in doing so but also the young minds which have huge potentials for quick grasping capacity.
The second principle of teaching is "the idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. It is he himself who must be induced to expand in accordance with his own nature." And the third principle of teaching is "a free and natural growth is the condition of genuine development….let them be free to follow their bent, but the majority languish, become empty, become artificial, if artificially moulded into an alien form". Unfortunately, the current form of education system does not follow the above principles both in private and government schools nor parents in society understand the importance of children's growth path. The hammering of the child into learning has become riddled with social stigmas which can only be reformed with a systematic approach like highlighted in the current draft new education policy.
Moreover, it is imperative that the purpose of teacher-centric syllabus based mainstream education has to develop the application of mind in children which will pave for acquiring competence with skills of logic and reasoning more than just numbers, theories, and history. These trainings are the ultimate real game-changer for children becoming a self- confident to face real-life challenges and core competencies in their chosen profession to stimulate thinking. In other words, true teachers or parents should show the children how to think with the application of mind and not what to think and should never be judgmental about which ways to think.
Therefore, the proposed draft new education policy would help children to adapt, develop and nurture the application of young minds with skills to become competent enough to face the real-life situations like Self-Awareness, Empathy, Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Decision making, Problem-solving, Creative thinking, Critical thinking, Coping with Emotions, and Coping with Stress. A student who practices any five of these skills continuously would witness significant changes in their life and profession in terms of dealing with personal problems or constructively resolving the professional issues and challenges.
Thus, we need to create a dynamic education system that fosters the application of mind with core competence and multiple skills to take advantage of the ‘demographic dividend'. Indeed, all the above aspects are highlighted in the draft new education policy to take the country into the next level a truly 21st-century education system for the world of thinking, innovation, experimental discovery and a robust knowledge economy. It is our endeavour to be part of it throughout the process of making it work the ideas of draft new education policy.