Atanu Dey On India's Development

The New Education Landscape

The future of education is going to be one of the most exciting things going on in the world. I see a revolutionary change occurring because of two specific reasons. First, the increasingly complex nature of our world. Change is accelerating and therefore to prepare people for that dynamic world, people need skills that were not needed previously. These skills cannot be imparted once and for all in the formal years of schooling. Therefore, what education has to do is to prepare people to be life-long learners. The schools have to be a place where a child learns not specific topics or subjects but learns how to learn any subject. The job is then to teach how to learn.

The second specific factor is the explosion in the amount of content. The width and depth of that content is mind boggling. By depth I mean that you don’t just have textual information but audio, video, graphics, interactive games, etc. By width, I mean that every topic has been covered, from basic arithmetic to quantum mechanics to art and literature. This content has been created by people over the years using the tools of technology. More importantly, technology is making all this content available. Just look at the member of the Open Courseware Consortium.

Also see the Online Education Database.

So we are now living in an age where there is not shortage of content for learning. What we are short of is time — to learn the various things that we have to learn. The challenge is therefore to somehow reduce the amount of information that a student has to internalize. We have to increase the efficiency of the consumption of information — not increase the amount of information available to the student. This is a totally different challenge than what we faced earlier.

So here in a nutshell is what we have to do. First, bring to the student only those bits of content that are the best. That means, we have to have a very efficient filtering system which rejects say about 99.99 percent of the educational content that is available. Whoever does that job is going to be very successful in the education business. The motto should be: Less is More.

The second thing is we have to teach kids those skills that will help them internalize the filtered content more efficiently. Reading, writing, arithmetic are the basic skills of course. But now we have to add critical thinking and reasoning skills as part of the basic.

I believe that the greatest challenge now is not that of creating the equivalent of the Library of Congress in every school but rather creating a library that is indeed a very small library. A small library which if you were to browse in, you will be getting nothing but the best. It will not be a static library — it will continually change as the best of the world is being included in it and the second best replaced. It has to be a dynamic library. And it has to be accessible to everyone in the school.

The methodology for implementing these is what I am working on.

  • http://jihadwatch.org/ Notsure

    The goal of educating someone has always been teaching them how to learn.
    E.G.
    Bicycle Mechanics wanting to investigate the possibility of flight demonstrated life long learning in a seemingly past era.
    The methodology for producing that is cultural.

  • amar

    Atanu,

    The job is then to teach how to learn.

    And if I may dare say, un-learn and relearn too. I read the following (I think in a student’s Statement of Purpose): My goal is to learn, learn and learn, often re-learn, and sometimes un-learn.

    The methodology for implementing these is what I am working on.
    More details please!

    Thanks,

  • rathore

    Sri Aurbindo lamented, over a 100 years ago, on the pitiful state of Indian education – “It is a fundamental and deplorable error by which we in this country have confused education with the acquisition of knowledge…. Amount of knowledge is in itself not of first importance, but to make the best use of what we know. The easy assumption of our educationists that we have only to supply the mind with a smattering of facts in each department of knowledge and the mind can be trusted to develop itself and take its own suitable road is contrary to science, contrary to human experience….” Macaulayite education was phenomenally successful in manufacturing ideology-parroting morons – in keeping with the designs of imperial masters. It is high time that is buried for it has no place in an innovation-driven, wealth creating economy. Viva la revolucion!