Someone painted me the picture of the schools in rural area and asked what would I change to improve the state of education in our country. Honestly speaking, the list of problems is long and it is not something that can be solved overnight. I will start with just 3 critical requirements first.
Firstly, we have to make sure that the schools are clean as the environment to study has to be conducive for the students. When the schools are clean, psychologically you will have a fresh and absorbent mind. Your mood will be uplifted and you will have a good health too. This is very elementary to be honest. But it takes a collective effort – teachers, students and parents as this basic habit starts from home. You must have the mindset of wanting to be clean and keep things clean. Maybe people should start applying Marie Kondo concept in schools.
Secondly, we need to inculcate the self-learning mindset. The students need to be intellectually curious, always wanting to learn and know more, always asking the question why and how. To me this is critical because we can’t rely only on the teachers and tools. True we need more quality teachers and provide the right tools such as computers and library of books. But the students themselves must be interested to learn and take their own initiatives to ask, learn and apply. Nowadays, access to information is easy and fast provided you have the internet connection but it defeats the purpose if you don’t have the desire to learn. I guess it is our role also to show how important education is. As Andrew Ng, the founder of Coursera said in the recent Coursera Annual Partners Conference 2019:
Education is on of the best tools we have for moving the world forward
Coursera is one of the great online learning platforms that offers online courses in a variety of subjects for everyone to learn. There are tonnes out there to help students around to world to have easy access to education. Most of them are free so you need to have a strong determination and discipline to finish through the courses.
Hence thirdly, the students need motivators and mentors. They need someone to push them to learn, to tell them that they are on the right track, to inspire them to dream, to challenge them to think about solving problems. This is the role that teachers should play. Not just merely to teach.
Among all the 3 requirements I mentioned above, I think having a self-learning mindset is the most critical one. Bill Gates is one of the great examples of having self-learning mindset. Something that he takes pride of. In fact he thinks there’s someone else who has taken self-learning to the next level, beyond him. It’s Tara Westover, the author of best-selling book, Educated (this one is next on my list!). She couldn’t go to school until the age of 17. So she’s been on a self-taught trajectory since young and managed to get into Cambridge University to earn a doctorate in intellectual history. It’s really inspiring. You can read more about it here.
Let’s spread the self-learning behaviour until it becomes addictive especially among the youth, shall we?