IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 11th Jan 2021

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see.” – Confucius

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #310 :“Schools as Places for Community Learning | UPSC

Schools as Places for Community Learning | UPSC

Arvind Gupta

Schools as Places for Community Learning | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Pandemic is an opportunity to reimagine schools as places for community learning

      CENTRAL THEME:

The state can use the pandemic to better its own schools. First, by improving the infrastructure and making the schools more welcoming. Clean toilets, drinking water, library, a tinkering lab, and a playground will help. Second, by making learning fun.

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Education

      MAINS QUESTION:

Schools have narrowed vision when it comes to teaching. How about envisioning tens of thousands of retired professionals as teachers? They will bring years of practical experience to learning. -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Great thinkers on school education
  • Education in modern era
  • An example from England
  • To-do List

      INTRODUCTION: 

Every housing society should have an “activities centre”, where children can make and do things.

  • SCHOOL AS AN INSTITUTION : The critique of school as an institution has developed and grown in the past half a century.
  • CAGED JAILS : Most schools are caged jails, where an alien curriculum designed by some “experts” is thrust down a child’s gullet.-Education theorist Everett Reimer
  • TOLSTOYS SCHOOL : The great Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, founded a school for the children of poor peasants at his home, Yasnaya Polyana, without any strict schedule, homework or physical punishment.
  • FREEDOM OF CHOICE : Maria Montessori was the first Italian woman to become a doctor; she went on to work out the “stages of development” in children which became the basis for her educational philosophy, which too emphasised children’s freedom and choice.
  • PARROT TRAINING : Tagore’s critique of rote learning is articulated in the classic tale The Parrot’s Training (Totaakahini).

      BODY: 

EDUCATION IN MODERN ERA

  • FREE EDUCATION : Progressive thinkers have always envisioned “free schools” for children.In India, schools have always been deeply segregated.

Perhaps, the longest lasting libertarian school in the world is Summerhill.
 

  • STATE FUNDED SCHOOLS : Usually, government schools hit headlines for all the wrong reasons — a wall caves in, a roof collapses, or children fall sick after a mid-day meal.
  • KOTHARI COMMISSION : The 1966 Kothari Education Commission’s recommendation for a common school system was never implemented.
  • RICH SCHOOLS VS POOR SCHOOLS : Today, which school a child goes to depends on her socio-economic status. The pandemic has furthered and exacerbated this divide.
  • ONLINE CLASSES : COVID-19 hit parents economically. Many were unable to pay school fees. Some removed their children from private schools and put them in government schools.
  • DIGITAL DIVIDE : The digital divide between the rich and poor has also widened. The poor do not have access to mobiles, laptops and internet connectivity.

In America, England, Japan and Finland — the most advanced countries — the best schools are government schools.

  • PANDEMIC SCENARIOS : In such a scenario, one can try and conceive of neighbourhood learning spaces.
  • BACK TO BASICS : The pandemic forced millions of adults to work from home. Many people realised that an office is not needed to do productive work.
  • DISCOVERING SELF : In the process, some have realised the boring nature of routine office and factory jobs and, simultaneously, discovered their own potential.
  • MIGRATION : Many have left busy, polluted cities, and returned to small towns and villages.We must strive for more neighbourhood learning spaces as we reimagine the school.
  • LOOKING OUT OF WINDOWS : Large housing societies already have community halls. Smaller ones can easily allocate a dedicated space, where adults can share their skills and experiences with young ones.
  • ACTIVITY CENTRE : Every housing society should have an “activities centre”, where children can make and do things.

AN EXAMPLE FROM ENGLAND

  • In the 1960s, England had a lot of community colleges. Here, anyone who had any skill could offer a course.
  • And anyone who wanted to learn a skill or subject could join in. No degrees were required.

The courses were wide-ranging, from haiku, Chinese art, limerick writing, pottery to bicycle repairs!

  • We need to reimagine schools – as places for community learning.
  • Schools have a very narrow vision of a teacher — someone with a B Ed degree.

      IASbhai Windup: 

TO DO LIST

  • INFRASTRUCTURE : The state can use the pandemic to better its own schools.First, by improving the infrastructure and making the schools more welcoming.

Clean toilets, drinking water, library, a tinkering lab, and a playground will help.

  • MAKING LEARNING FUN : Instead of segregating children by age they can have classes with mixed age groups.The children can also learn at their own pace.
  • LOCATE THE CHAMPIONS :  The “heroes” within the system — and use them as effective resource people.
  • CASH INCENTIVES : Simply by bringing innovators to the fore, many teachers will feel motivated.
  • PARTICIPATION : By inviting established NGOs to help bring in best practices from all over.
  • BUILDING ARCHIVES : During the pandemic, 1.5 million people logged into archive.org every day.

It is the largest repository of books with 28 million books for free downloads. We need to build such a free archive for Indian languages.

  • ACCESS : The recent announcement that the state will buy bulk subscriptions of scientific journals so that everyone can access them is a step in the right direction.
  • CASTE BURDEN : We need schools where children with different backgrounds — class, caste, religions, abilities — can study together and learn to care and empathise.

When students work with people with different skills and abilities. They also learn cooperation, group work, compassion, human dignity and plurality of opinions.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Schools as Places for Community Learning | UPSC

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