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On our times turning eleven !

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  • Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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    A new decade beckons us and the 21st century is finally out of its infancy ! Our times are tuning into their adolescence … and these 'wonder years', as it is for their human counterparts may be truly defining years for school education in India. While adolescence is often synonymous with awkwardness and rebellion, to me it is also a 'coming-of-age-time' – a time to assert one's own identity, a time when one's mentally and physically most energised, a time that's rich with promise and potential!

    But let's park the decade issue for a bit and re-wind to the turn of the century, to 1996 specifically, when I chanced to read an article by James Ogily called: Future Studies and the Human Sciences. He suggested, and I quote: “….imagine what could happen if education became the cause of the opening decade of the new millenium much as civil rights and the Vietnam War preoccupied the 1960s or feminism and the environment motivated so many in the 1970s or greed obsessed the 1980s or globalism and information technology the 1990s. It could happen. Social agendas do change.

    For me that was inspiring to consider in 1996 ! And now as this century turns eleven – Ogilvy's 'futures thinking' seems quite prophetic. Never before has there been as much public and private opinion and enterprise in education. The debate and rhetoric over the Right to Education Act, the genuine national and state level deliberations over improving quality of teaching and teacher education, the many advocacy movements and experiments in education across the country are all evidence of an idea whose time has come! It's the idea of education as an agent for social transformation and social inclusion. However this 'education idea' has as yet, remained a fringe activity, a 'playful' dabbling in an undoubtedly worthwhile endeavour. When our aim is to reform education, dabbling is rather child-like and short-sighted at best. We need to get dead serious about educational reform, and this includes all schools – private and government. We must take into consideration the scale and scope of the challenge of Indian school education. Anything short of that does seem dabbling ! We therefore need to mature and evolve a far more rigorous approach, shift from ideation and experimentation and boldly go the whole hog – implementing ideas large scale with the clear objective of effecting measurable improvement in student learning. This will be a true coming-of-age for school education reform in India. The Teacher Foundation is at this cross road. We have experimented, tested out effective approaches and are now poised and ready to make the big impact!

    Revisiting the point I was earlier making about our new decade.... An 'adolescent' decade could be just the right time to make the social agenda of educational reform, a reality. I say this, because such an endeavour requires courage, focus and a certain self-centredness, without being self-serving ! They have adult-like mental capacities - BUT they aren't fussy about the physical discomfort and handling existing messiness. They are willing to roll up their sleeves to clean up things, they aren't afraid to ask questions if they don't have a solution, nor are they unduly bothered about pushing the boundaries– that's exactly what we need in the decade unfolding...... a youthful and contemporary outlook.

    Posted by Maya Menon, Director, The Teacher Foundation

    Photographs from schools TTF worked with in 2010


    Anonymous said...

    A very good article. There is a requirement of immediate change in teachers' way of teaching and TTF is doing a wonderful Job.

    Suganthi Narayan

    Maya Menon said...

    Thanks for your appreciation Suganthi :-)! It's deeply valued. I couldn't agree with you more - that we all need to concertedly help effect a change in the way teaching is transacted in Indian schools......! Maya

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