"Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of mind to think"
- Albert Einstein
Education encompasses all those processes which promote learning or helping an individual in acquiring knowledge, which further translates into development of skills, values, beliefs and habits. It also extends to inspiring individuals to think about what they learn.
If we look into the history of the education system in ancient India briefly, we discover that it started from gaining knowledge from spiritual texts in the Gurukul system to the emergence of the world renowned universities like Taxila and Nalanda. It is of special mention here that education methodologies adopted by both these systems included critical analysis wherein students could differ with their teachers, who constantly encouraged them to express their ideas, opinions and views. Thus we can very well conclude that our ancestors developed an impeccable education system which when adopted today coupled with modern technology can truly transform our nation and restore its erstwhile pride.
Education is the major support system on which a country’s economy thrives as creative thinkers and innovators are invariably required to fuel the economic growth. Additionally, as the world faces new challenges like climate change, environmental pollution and depletion of non-renewable resources, innovative solutions are required to effectively tackle them. Hence, in the present day context, education needs to be redefined as a means of knowledge creation rather than knowledge acquisition. Educational systems should promote skill generation which is of paramount importance to prepare the children for the future. In this light, it is high time that the educators should focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which has the potential to shape ideas into innovations. A positive development in this regard is that as an outcome of the government’s policies, schools across the length and breadth of the country have initiated steps to foster the spirit of innovation. Students are not only being motivated to develop critical analysis techniques but they are also being provided access to latest technological tools to fulfill the dual objectives of skill generation and promoting innovativeness.
The new techniques being adopted to make learning effective include the increasing usage of audio-visual aids like smart boards, computers and tablets to explain otherwise complex concepts in science and mathematics. Further, in order to promote active participation of students, a new practice coming to light is that teachers limit their roles as a facilitator by arranging resources for the students. Subsequently, students are encouraged to amass concepts and extend it to creation of knowledge. This is followed by group discussions, presentations and debates to fortify participation and overall quality of learning. It is a well-established fact that team work is the best platform to promote learning and creativity. Accordingly, many institutions encourage students to execute collaborative projects, which always have better outcomes due to creation of synergies. Another practice which is gaining momentum is that schools routinely organize trips to renowned centres for excellence in the area of STEM, across the country, with the objective of making the students experience what they are learning and hence develop deeper insights.
As discussed above, along with the development of soft skills, access to latest technology is being proactively provided to students. The Atal Innovation Mission has been launched by NITI Aayog with the objective of promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship. Under its aegis, Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) have been set up in schools across India with the objective of fostering curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcating skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc. (http://niti.gov.in/content/atal-tinkering-laboratories). ATLs provide a platform to provide innovative solutions for issues being faced by the Indian individuals and community. These laboratories expose young minds to recent advances in STEM, encourage them to think out of the box and ultimately create unique solutions. Students are prepared to become innovators and creative thinkers by promoting:
- Digital literacy: Learning basics of computers, internet search, e-mails, social media platforms and cybersecurity.
- Ideation: Learning to think above everyday activities, identify problems by community interaction and develop a range of ideas for the identified problem.
- Design thinking: A methodology for providing a solution-based approach to deal with problems.
- Computational thinking: Individuals are exposed to various kinds of hardware as well as software which would help shape up an idea into a model.
- Physical computing: Here, the participants are provided with hands-on training on the hardware as well as software.
To conclude, the recent developments in educational systems towards fostering innovation and creativity, though at a nascent stage, are exciting and the future definitely holds great promise. They have kindled hope for the emergence of new innovations from India, and continuous efforts in this direction will be required to effectively shape our future.
Nimisha Srivastava (PGT-Chemistry
K.V. New Meharauli Road, Old JNU Campus)