A Perspective from the First Bench

A Perspective from the First Bench

‘Why am I bound to the same curriculum, the same teaching method, and the same classroom that every other student around me is bound to? Why do I come home complaining about massive workloads and bad grades? Why do I sometimes sense that I don’t enjoy school? Why don’t I get space for my creativity- for what I really enjoy doing? Why was there no time to fulfill my passions during high school? ‘. It was never late to shoot these questions to myself. It was nearly the end of my school life when I considered these questions. I know when I consider these questions and suggest changes for the same, I am challenging the masterminds who designed the school system long before my birth and the authorities who are implementing standard schooling boards for students since years. How so ever, as a global citizen, I strongly wish to express my thoughts.

The stairway to students’ official career halts at a college/university. If we specifically consider studying in the USA; what does a student ultimately require for admission in American colleges? – SAT/ACT score, SAT II scores (optional), specific hours in desired coursework, consistent performance in academics, application essays (requiring decent English and an intellectual level); extra-curricular and co-curricular activities are a plus and a must. There is no compulsion of a specific board/diploma course by the university. It is just that few universities prefer students who have graduated from a board that demands rigor and overall development (such as the International Baccalaureate or the AP exams). Is a home schooled student- with a decent score on SAT & SAT II’s, a good application essay, decent EC’s and a burning desire- eligible to apply to Harvard or Stanford? Why not?

Infrastructural changes in schools are so apparent. It’s now time to make changes within the system: The concept of the schooling system. Let there be less of walls, and more of closely-knit communities working together to achieve something. Let there be less of chalk and talk, and more of interaction which can proceed both ways. Let there be less of notebooks and standard syllabi, and more of open research and experiential/project-based learning. Let there be less of a formal schooling structure, and more of sharing of ideas in an open network. Let there be a challenge to every student. The base reason for indiscipline is inactivity or hyper-activeness. If a student can effectively engage in a challenging activity of his interest, I’m quite sure he would behave ethically. Let there be academic enrichment through global awareness and original inquiry.

This goes easy with just saying! There are many institutions across the globe trying to implement similar education models. For instance, The Sudbury Model of Education allows students to have complete responsibility for their education. It’s a ‘direct democracy’. The students plan how to make most of their time, and learn from experience. What they believe is ‘Learning is a natural by-product of all human activity. Learning is self-initiated and self-motivated. ‘At such school, the students and the staff stand at the same level. 30 such schools across the world- and counting. Consider the Big Picture Learning which aims to offer personalized education to each student ‘by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized learning environments that work in tandem with the real world of their greater community.’ The open structures of such schools can actually help in a student’s personal and professional development. A student coming out of a ‘free school’ certainly stands apart from any other student.

This is the beginning of a new debate. Such a change in the education model shall go a long way in implementation. However, it is essential to initiate such perspectives. The world is a short visit, and 12 years of schooling is a big span of time. Let’s grow and innovate!

Shyamal Anadkat
Shyamal Anadkat (a.k.a Zostale) is a student in Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, USA. Innovation, creativity, and the art of critical thinking are few of the ingredients that craft his way of life. For the rest of his day, he enjoys gyming, playing lawn tennis, mixing music, and penning his thoughts even at 3 in the morning. His lifetime motto is 'to learn, progress, and serve’.