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April 19, 2009

Schooling… Sucks !!! Problems with modern schools.

Filed under: education, perils of modern schooling, social change — neosurya @ 20:54

I looked up a friend’s podcast, a talk by the writer, Paul Goodman. The podcast can be heard here. At about 26:30 (time remaining), he talks about the compulsory system of education as he had observed in Puerto Rico.

(I was) Sickened to ask myself – what do schools do about their claim to educate. It was quite evident, that after 10 years of intensive development – students who came from poor families to compound the native poverty – schools produced dropouts, more drop outs… Their life was stigmatized as inferior. Why was this counter-productive effect being overlooked. They could not learn on their own – promoted a new kind of self-inflicted injustice.

Creating a requirement for a society based on consumerism. For example, making you believe that learning could be quantified, it can be sliced up to pieces, for which you need a process where you are the consumer and someone else determines the organization.

Jyostna and I were reminded of our visit to the Center For Learning a few weeks back. A few related documentaries are: Vignyan Ashram (YouTube has a nice video on Vignyan Ashram at this URL), Schooling the World. Vignyan Ashram was started in 1983 by Dr. Shrinath Kalbag at Pabal in the Pune District of Maharashtra. He had a PhD in Food Technology from Univ. of Illinois, Chicago and came back to India to work for the Central Food Technological Research Institute till 1963. He also worked in Hindustan Lever Research Center till 1982, and later retired to start Vignyan Ashram. In his own words:

We want our students to start their own enterprises in their villages and thus reduce the migration to cities. There are many, who have done that, and are running their industries successfully. But these are not my success stories, they are their own. My success story will be when the system runs without me.

Schooling the world is a very interesting documentary that echoes some of the sentiments expressed in Paul Goodman’s radio interview. It is about how the modern schooling has bred a specific type of consumerism among children. One of the poignant lines that I remember from the documentary is a statement given by the founder of a popular NGO that works in the area of education. Cant recall the exact words, but the message was:

When I go to these villages, and talk to some of the elders there, they tell me –बेटा, हमें तो कुच मालूम नहीं है, आप हमारे बडे बेटे से बात करें. य़े पढा लिखा है. (Son, I do not know anything, please talk to my elder boy, he has studied in a big school). Somehow, education has instilled into people that someone who has not been inside the four walls of a classroom is incapable of any thought. People also introduce themselves as fourth fail, seventh fail and so on, and it has made more losers out of people than any other system.

The documentary also had these interesting interviews with Ladhaki parents, who lamented that their children are growing without an identity, and are being lured into a consumerist society. This section of the documentary showcased a prestigious school in Ladakh that focuses on English education, and forbids students from speaking in Ladhaki on campus. What was surprising is that several of the interviewed students (both teenagers and kids) also agreed that they cannot speak their own language and seemed extremely concerned about that aspect.

In reality, almost every system produces failures and successes. Schooling the world does not offer any solutions, but it does outline some of the ill-effects observed by people. I also feel that while the schooling system we have right now is not perfect, it was a good start; It has successfully allowed several people to break free of societal dogmas. As alternative schooling (vignyan ashram, CFL, Valley School etc) grows and improves, society will embrace the new and better.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] am reminded of a video that I saw long back on “Vignyan Ashram”; I had blogged about it here. There is a video about the school in youtube, and the founder of the school “Dr. […]

    Pingback by Plagiarized work – honest work is dead??? « Back to Bharat — August 12, 2010 @ 23:12


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