Wednesday, December 26, 2018

LET 2019 BE THE EPITOME OF CREATIVITY AND SELF RELIANCE

LET 2019 BE THE EPITOME OF CREATIVITY AND SELF RELIANCE
“January 1, 2019 is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
Penning down thoughts and ideas has been an utter source of pleasure and expression for people around the world in various fields and professions. My write-ups have been a way of connecting with the students, parents and teachers. They give me the space to show my concern, share my thoughts and ideas and motivate and encourage my students, who are the source of my pride and a reflection of the coming future. Around thirty articles this year showcased an assimilation of the above mentioned. Encouraging my students to look into their hearts and define their success through their passion, I shared with them the significance of freedom, Indian culture and values. I also got a chance to express my concern towards the deteriorating state of Indian universities. Through a few written pieces I was able to reach the parents, teachers and students regarding certain important topics such as importance of discipline, opportunities, how dirt (outdoor activities) is good and the need to understand privilege. Another set of articles focussed on issues such as role of teachers, how they can learn from their mistakes, self directed learning, importance of basic concepts, problem of brain drain, importance of mother tongue etc. Certain unfortunate events around the country which involved school students shook me a little but when it comes to the faith in the innate goodness in children, I stand undeterred and hopeful. I got an opportunity to share with my readers various parenting and teaching styles and the importance of raising self sufficient and reflective kids. Through a few of them I tried to constructively criticize a few educational policies like possibility of reduction of syllabus by 50%.
With each passing year the scenario of education in our country has changed. The year gone by was the reflection of the same. It is no longer implicit on a student to transact everything in the classroom, we could support the learner to reach other sources of knowledge, and in the process, learn how to sift information and extract knowledge and skills out of it. As a part of educational reforms, the HRD Ministry is also in the process of scrapping the two-year B.Ed course and plans to replace it with a four-year integrated programme. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have been initiated under the SWAYAM scheme and online degrees have also been approved. A single testing agency has been setup, called National Testing Agency and has successfully conducted one national level exam.. The new education policy, which is in the making, may be finalised before 2019. New Higher Education Regulatory Council (HERC), subsuming all current regulatory authorities, such as University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is underway. But we are still struggling. While adult literacy rates are rising, only six per cent of Indians graduate from college, though in absolute terms, the numbers enrolled in colleges and universities are about 31.56 million. Dropout rates are also on the rise. Moreover, it is frustrating for the youth who come out of colleges and don’t get jobs. (Source: TOI)
Speculating all the reforms and persisting problems, my focus still remains on inculcating skills and nurturing creativity through classroom teaching, extracurricular activities and sports. If the students are taught to be self sufficient they would be able to find their calling with confidence.
In the Indian tradition of the knowledge quest, ‘yavadjeevait adhiyate viprah’ was propounded much earlier. Teachers of today and tomorrow would do well if they recall the wisdom of Socrates: “I cannot teach anybody, I can only make them think.” Essentially, teachers need to be prepared to comprehend the imperatives of assisting the learner in the development of total personality and comprehensive abilities to enable him to contribute creatively in socio-economic, cultural, political and technological sectors. This would be feasible only when teacher preparation institutions realise their transformed role to help student-teachers acquire the skills of developing, what is now known as ‘multiple intelligence’. Teachers thus prepared would not only complete the syllabus in time but will also make it interesting and enjoyable. I believe that the focus of the educational arena in 2019 should be emphasis on skills and creativity.
“A good classroom environment always has some elements of creativity which makes the lessons more interesting and interactive. The right mix of creativity along with curriculum helps students to be innovative and also encourages them to learn new things. Students can grow up as good communicators in addition to improving their emotional and social skills.” Creative classrooms can really transform the way students acquire education and how they apply it in their real life. In fact, creative expression plays a key role in a student’s emotional development. Whether it is debate or classroom discussions or field trips, students have the chance to come out of their shelves and become a part of it. “This freedom of expression gives them a sense of goodness and happiness. Making some contributions in the learning sessions gives them a sense of satisfaction too. It can stimulate imaginative thinking capability in students. That is why teachers should promote activities such as open-ended questions, creative team building activities, brainstorming sessions and debates amidst busy curriculum schedules. This also triggers group problem solving and shared learning that gives them a feeling of togetherness. Creative persons have an upper hand in triggering future opportunities than those with a mere academic skill set. They can express freely during knock out rounds and the way they present themselves really matters in this competitive phase.” (Source: Pioneer)
During a TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson raised the utmost significance of creativity in today’s education when he told “It is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” Every child has some inbuilt creativity in them and proper guidance from the teacher coaxes and cultivates it to help them grow up as creative individuals. In school, those who can write a good story or draw beautiful pictures are considered the special ones who are creative. But research shows that all people are creative. In fact, it is one of the most important characteristics of being human. It is one of the main traits that make us successful as individuals and as a species.
The world is changing so rapidly now that just learning a specific skill set and following it exactly won’t get us very far. What prepares students for life beyond the classroom is learning how to be more creative, which includes flexibility in perception and execution of tasks. Schools have started acknowledging the importance of creativity in classrooms. Courses in creativity are now provided by academia because it is now common knowledge that only creativity can help students succeed in the 21st century. It is no longer relegated in the classroom to subjects like English, art, or music. Teachers and professors are beginning to emphasize creativity in the sciences, as well.
Hans Zimmer, the Oscar winning German composer apparently was an unruly child at school. He was thrown out from eight schools. When his parents took him to the ninth, the head teacher figured out how to get Zimmer involved in education just by talking to him. The head teacher organized for him to study music because Zimmer said he liked music. This led to his successful career. Not just Zimmer’s music but the teacher and her teaching methods are also creative. This again is proof of the importance of creativity in educators. Zimmer was lucky as the head teacher was creative in her teaching methods. The world needs more such teachers.
The need of the time is to inculcate in students essential skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, agility, adaptability, taking initiative, and effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination, ability to network and empathize, build resolution rather than resentments.  
Let us allow our kids to be the best version of themselves rather than being best in everything. Rejection, failure and unfairness are a part of life. It is time to teach our kids that no matter how tough or unjust their circumstances are they can always take positive actions. Motivate them to focus on what they have to offer the world rather than what they can gain from it. Let’s teach them how to face their fears head-on and come out of their comfort zone. I would request the parents to change their approach and involve the kids in decision making while giving them appropriate duties. This will help them gain mental strength which they need to become responsible citizens. So, Let us start the New Year with a new approach filled with positivity and acceptability.
“A New Year. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams and hard work give birth to change.”