As an education reformer, American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey was one of the 20th Century’s leading intellectuals preaching democracy and advocating its inclusion in education, in which both education and learning being socially inclusive developments. His ideas, if implemented, can reap huge benefits for Indian education system. A fully formed public opinion needed to exist in schools as well that enabled students to make decisions regarding both their own lives and their learning. Dewey argued that if emphasis was placed on children and their ability to both experience and interact with the curriculum, then the subject matter is not the only determining factor in the learning quality and quantity. Among his other influences, “Problem-based learning”, a commonly used concept, stems from learning through investigation. Moreover, he was a firm believer that the purpose of education should not be to provide students with a limited skill set for a particular job in the future. It should rather be concerned with equipping students with the abilities to be “reflective, autonomous, and ethical beings capable of … critical … discourse” (Dewey, 1902).
Additionally, considering teachers as highly regarded and trusted professionals who serve a public function was essential in a good-quality education system, although this has not yet caught on in the Indian education system. Essentially, Dewey promoted teaching as a profession and the direct impact it has upon moulding the mental, moral, and spiritual lives of children in their seminal years.
Modifications in Indian Education System
Rarely seen in Indian education system, this pedagogical approach arranges classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences. Here, students work collectively to complete academic tasks and the pedagogy encourages children to utilise the collective knowledge and resources, this includes requesting fellow students for information, evaluating each other’s ideas, monitoring the work of others, and so on. Ross & Smyth (1995) suggest five elements central to thriving cooperation within classrooms: positive interdependence, individual and group accountability, personal interaction, teaching of interpersonal and small group interactive skills, and group processing. Highly qualified teachers have included several of these elements, which require higher-order thinking skills.
This focuses on the development of the whole child. Howard Gardener’s theory that the child is talented in more than one way has led to the rethinking of curricula in the schools of most countries. To balance the curriculum, emphasis is placed on blending the traditional academic subjects with arts, crafts, music, and physical education. The majority of children can succeed in environment where they feel that they have an opportunity to evolve holistically. Click here to read more about multiple intelligences theory and its impact on Indian education system.
Alternative Assessments for Classrooms
Ridding schools of their obsessions with standardised testing is an enormous challenge, one to which bureaucrats would never agree; standardised testing marginalises those who think differently and encourages a herd mentality. Alternative assessment formats, however, cannot function without a high level of trust placed on teachers. Local school and teacher monitoring of the pupils’ progress, as well as the teacher’s own assessments are needed for a child-centric approach that seeks to enrich the learning experience through interaction. Examples of these include portfolio, performance, self-assessment, and self-reflection evaluations. An understanding of these methods is fundamental during teacher training and the explanation to the children of the methods equally so. The correct implementation of the policy can lead to a strong Indian education system.
The notion of one colleague collaborating or exchanging ideas of the best teaching practices based upon experience seems reasonable but not possible in all academic environments because of the workload placed on teachers. This idea is essentially a private process where teachers collaborate in critically evaluating current practices, as well as develop and study new skills. The free exchange of ideas to resolve teaching issues is precisely what fosters overall development of teachers, just as cooperative learning improves the children.
Ultimately, the key is to implement the policies in an effective manner and the goal is the strengthening of the Indian education system.