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Tuesday, July 10, 2001

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Where teachers become friends

EDUCATION HAS always played a vital role in human society. And as human society has been progressing, education has been recasting itself to meet the new demands and challenges.

In the 20th Century, the pace of human progress was phenomenal. It had therefore cast exceptional strains on the educational system. To cope with new discoveries and inventions and their impact on human society had been the main problem of educationists, both at the school and the university level.

A UNESCO document `Learning to Be' (1972) says: ``Very many countries regard the education of modern man as an exceptionally difficult problem, and all countries regard it as important. And for all those who want to make the world a better place, and to prepare for the future, education is a capital, universal subject.''

The authors of the above document admit frankly: ``Wherever we find a traditional educational system which has stood the test of time and was generally thought to need no more than a few occasional improvements, a few more or less automatic adjustments, it is currently unleashing an avalanche of criticism and suggestions which often go so far as to question it in its entirety. Some young people are now more or less openly protesting against the pedagogic models and types of institutions imposed on them, although it is now always easy to delimit the influence of this particular phenomenon, with its vague uneasiness and flashes of rebellion.''

While the 20th century administered quite a few shocks to the educational system and exposed its weaknesses and inadequacies in the context of the fast changing world, the current millennium is expected to be full of innumerable such shocks as would compel the seats of learning to redesign themselves to update their curricula and teaching methodologies.

To be more precise, immobility in education would become unimaginable. The era of blocked societies would vanish altogether. Any system, which will be relevant to individual needs and would hold back scientific, technological and socio- economic development, would just crack into pieces.

Education in the current millennium would not brook any gap between its content and the living experience of its pupils, between the systems of values it preaches and goals set up by society, between its ancient curricula and the modernity of science and technology.

To put in simple terms, all education will have to be linked to life. It would be targeted to concrete goals. A close relationship will be established between education and the latest social developments in every sphere. Educationists would have to reshape the educational system that would be in harmony with the latest demands, urges, aspirations and expectations of society.

Some of the latest challenges are: knowledge is making a prodigious leap forward. The gap between scientific and technological discoveries and inventions and their large-scale application in human life is constantly as well as rapidly diminishing.

Progress in electronics coupled with coming of computers is revolutionising the infrastructure of every social establishment. Scientific discoveries are innumerable and have tumultuous impact on the physical and social organisations of the human society.

The new developments in the world of science, technology and electronics are creating shocking upheavals in cultural and aesthetic spheres, forcing rethinking and transformation in established values and ethics.

Past experience shows that teachers are slow to change. They remain orthodox unless their orthodoxy becomes a challenge to their very economic survival. The current millennium will have no place for such teachers who cannot agree to change themselves instantly.

Today there is hardly any updation of the teacher's pedagogical skills. In the current millennium the process of upgradation of the teacher's knowledge and competency will have to be undertaken almost every year. Not only this, the existing training systems of teacher education will have to undergo a revolutionary change.

The invasion of Information Technology, networking and the sweeping changes it is bringing in the life styles and administrative processes cannot be underplayed. One could see learners encompassing all age groups engaging actively either through formal or informal modes of learning.

The institution for tomorrow will be diametrically different from the institutions of today. The invasion of the electronic media will change its very set up. The teaching aids will be highly sophisticated. Computers, rather super-computers, will become a common teaching-learning instrument not only in the classroom but also in the home of the students.

In fact, the time is not far off when students will spend less time in institutions than in front of a television set or a computer or any other unforeseen gadget of educational interest. It is apprehended that teachers will lose their leading place in the learning experience. They will rather be faced with the new task of providing the students with a `users guide' to the media. Participative learning will therefore be the call of the day, where the teacher's role will be a mature elder friend and facilitator, who engages himself in experimentation along with his younger participants.


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