Senin, 13 Oktober 2014

Education: Before and Now

My grandfather likes to talk. He likes to tell things. A few days back, he was enthusiastic as ever to tell me the trends of his days. The most intriguing and unfamiliar to me were the ones regarding schooling of his time. The differences that I could observe were startling to say the least.

Education is a necessity today but it was certainly a luxury a few decades ago. With girls not allowed to leave their homes, sons expected to continue family businesses, very few could have the luxury of formal learning. Not just these, schools were scarce and very few among them could provide quality education.

After some thought, I could find the one most important reason that forced these changes: competition. My other grandfather was a school dean. His education status: studied up to 7th grade. My dad earns enough to support our family and afford a few luxuries. His education status: B.Sc. My senior who's at home, unfortunately, jobless has finished his MBA a few months ago and still unable to find a decent job. 90% in SSC or HSC was unimaginable a few years ago, now it's simply ubiquitous.

The innate urge in us to do better, to achieve more than already has been has pushed us from the realms of yesterday into the possibilities of today. This gets us to another point that distinguishes the education of yesterday from that of today: technology. In the good old days, as my grandfather did, students had to walk miles to and fro school. Reason? Vehicles as we know today, were rare as ever when he was a kid. Believe it or not, he used to spend almost as much time walking as much he did in school.

A few days ago, I was left dumbfounded by my niece of five when she clicked a picture on her mom's cell phone and sent it to her dad who was out on an overseas tour through an online messaging app. On the contrary, my grandpa says he didn't know what a computer was until he was 40. That's the impact technology has had on today's generation.

My grandfather fondly remembers his lectures taking place in a ruggedly constructed school with no paint or air conditioners or fancy labs. Just a blackboard and chalks for the teacher and a slate along with thin chalks for the students. Also telling me know that my great-grandfather studied in a very modest school under the shade of a large banyan tree in the open.

The children of today will find anything other than a person explaining subjects to them with a remote in his hand and with the help of a presentation on a big screen as outdated or even absurd. Whereas the lot who has finished their education years back may not like this or find this method too difficult to comprehend as compared to traditional way to teaching and learning.

A few decades ago, the number of courses was limited. A student wanted to be a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer because these were the only professions he had heard of. Commerce and arts related courses were looked down upon and parents used to insist their children to focus on maths and sciences. Now times have changed, advertising, reality shows, and the idea of 'do what you love' are making themselves visible and the wide plethora of courses that are in the education sector of today are enabling and encouraging students to do what would be called unconventional a few years back.

These changes, apparently, seem positive. And they really are. The environment for education then was worse than what it is today. But the enthusiasm in the students of yesterday was tremendous. For them receiving education was an epoch since it was uncommon and therefore they used to work hard. The students of today, however, do not value formal learning. They are rebellious and refuse to work hard when it comes to academics. They do not realize that education is, in fact, a necessary luxury!

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