Student Centric Education – is it just a myth?

The term “student centric education” is the most abused phrase in the world of education today. Every school claims it in its advertisements, or in its vision statement.

Let us look at what it actually means and how far schools are from the truth in writing it in their vision and mission statements. I think it is ironical for any school that follows a standardised prescribed curriculum to claim student centric education. The prescription of a standardised syllabus and content clearly cannot be completely student centric.  Then is it possible to get a child through a schooling system without a standardised prescribed syllabus? The answer lies in the education system now followed by Finland.

When is it possible?

The idea of student centric education is possible only when we shift focus from bombarding children’s brains with loads of information, to giving them useful skills. How do we decide what is useful? Pretty straightforward, the skills relevant today may not be fully useful a decade later, so we should focus on skilling the students on how to acquire new skills quickly and how to use them effectively. We need to focus on making students creative in learning and using their knowledge. If creativity becomes the order of the day and adaptability their talent, then every student – no matter what they choose to be in their future – will be prepared to lead an enriched life.

Is it really possible?

Theoretically, it is a very simple thing to do. The curricula should focus on creativity, which in turn depends on how curious one is to learn, how clear they are about the learning, what connections do they make of their learning and how well they communicate what they have learnt. All of these qualities will make them competent in every aspect of life.

Practically, this has to be implemented with sustained commitment and dedication because this is not a change that can be brought about overnight. The learning environment (school) should change drastically to address these skills. Schools should break out from their prison-like models to more open and interactive learning environments. Teachers should believe in a world beyond text books and truly function as facilitators of learning. Parents need to shift their dreams for their children, from being merely academically qualified to being creative and well-rounded individuals. Children should get the opportunity to be more active in their own learning process, rather than passive recipients of second hand knowledge.

As we can see, the dependency is four-fold and it requires national movements – like in Finland – across the world to see the change we all wish to have. I think we are in the right direction, all we need is the momentum to tread the long journey ahead. For all the naysayers who will emphatically point out the challenges in adopting a system that works in a different country, I say that, if we can learn from the core concept of transformation and contextualise it to our own scenarios, we will be able to find plausible and workable solutions. All we need is the collective will to make it happen.

Let me leave you all with this inspiring talk – by Sir Ken Robinson, the expert in Creativity and Education – which espouses the need to “escape education’s death valley”.

-Sriraghavan S M, Co-Founder and President – Customer Relationship, BRAINSTARS

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