Exploring future relevance of curriculum to social needs


Ashutosh Agarwal
Founder & Secretary, Sanskriti The Gurukul, Guwahati 


Ankita Das
English & Life Skills Educator,Sanskriti The Gurukul, Guwahati

The emergence of knowledge society has unleashed newer domains of knowledge and skills. Consequently, there is increasing irrelevance of domains of knowledge which had dominated the learning universe over the last few decades. So, how can schools explore future relevance of curriculum to social needs.

With newer learning opportunities in the newer knowledge fields, the classical model of learning through a classroom delivery by a teacher appears to be challenged. Here, Ashutosh Agarwal and Ankita Das of Sanskriti The Gurukul, Guwahati share their views on how schools can take up this challenge.

TPS: How do you look at the newer challenges forcing the learners to shift the paradigms of their learning continuously?

Ashutosh & Ankita: Firstly, one has to approach the emergence of new fields of enquiry the same manner in which one deals with the emergence of new technology — the older generation learns to adapt to it while the younger generation will automatically develop an interest for it at a very young age. Therefore, there is not much that we need to do about it.

Secondly, although there has been an emergence of new fields of enquiry that are metaphorically on fire right now, the fire could very well die down rather soon. This is because many of the newly emerged fields of enquiry have no real history no real philosophical foundations or solid research methodology. They are relatively young and only time will tell whether they truly deserve to be taught at the university level or not.

TPS:How do you expect the pedagogical models evolving in the future?

Ashutosh & Ankita: Horace Mann rightly said, ’Those who exert the first influence upon the mind, have the greatest power.’

Gone are the days where students would sit patiently and listen to their teacher’s lectures which were considered ‘supreme.’ Teachers were considered the gurus for sharing their knowledge and for moulding the students into responsible citizens.

Change is pertinent and the 21st century highly demands for an alternative and a more trendier path in every field. With the advent of science and technology in the educational field, there has been an increase in demand for welcoming a whole new world; the digital world.

Charles Darwin’s ‘Survival of the fittest’ theory proves it all. With technology coming into the educational field, the classical mode of learning and teaching has definitely become shaky. Hence, to keep up to the new world’s demand, it is highly important to be updated with the latest development.

Children today are exposed to smart gadgets at an early age. By the time they start schooling, they are well equipped with technology. Therefore, according to me, the future pedagogical models would demand the knowledge-givers to be highly advanced in technology. Making technology the main medium of teaching and experimenting with technology can act as an effective way to deal with students. Unlike the traditional system of education, where teachers played the main role In the classroom, the future model of teaching would involve a lot of interaction between the teacher and the student. Along with a theoretically understanding of the subject, a practical understanding is very important. The practical knowledge would be highly fruitful as students today believe in ‘hands on activities’. Thematic system of education can be effective for imparting the practical knowledge. Students can get an exposure to the real world by experiencing it. All thanks to technology that has helped us to create the miniature of our real world with the help of 3D print pictures. This doesn’t only help the students to get a better understanding of the concepts but also helps the teacher to be more creative in showcasing his/her talent and experimenting with technology.

TPS: Convergence and divergence of knowledge is resulting both in convergent and divergent thinking in handling the domains of knowledge. It calls for effective thinking models in learning situations for which the current curricular structures are not conducive. Do you think freedom to learn with self-accountability is possibly an emerging scenario? What will be the role of a teacher in such a situation?

Ashutosh & Ankita: Well, there are always two approaches to looking at the same subject/topic —one from the convergent viewpoint and the other from the divergent viewpoint. However, in my opinion, both ways do perform the same task of laying out all the available perspectives of a topic/subject. It is the responsibility of the teacher to lay out all the perspectives and let the students make up their own mind. I also think that this does not translate into the idea that students must be absolutely free to learn or not learn a particular perspective as this results in incomplete knowledge of other perspectives. Even worst, it could lead to poorer understanding of particular ideas or perspectives and an intolerance towards the other perspectives. This is why the duty of the teacher is paramount in laying out all the perspectives in front of the students in a clear manner and only then allow the students to evaluate the said perspectives. I think that self-accountability is a very big task which even adults falter while trying to achieve and so hoping that children can do that is perhaps a bit unrealistic and this is also why the role of the teacher will always remain.

TPS: There are strong indicators in knowledge processing that the focus is shifting from just cognition to effective integration with affective and psycho-motor domains. Does this warrant a fresh thinking about the classroom designs to a more liberal and integrated designs?

Ashutosh & Ankita: Yes,we agree with the statement. A classroom is usually the first place where students dream to achieve their goals but with the newer approach of learning and teaching, the traditional classrooms could act as a barrier that prevents the unleashing of young talents. Hence, there is a need to revamp the traditional classroom system and work towards a more liberal and ‘up to date’ type of classroom where students do not just explore by sitting within the four walls of the room but get the optimum exposure of the real world. In fact, there ought to be freedom given to teachers to convert any space into a place conducive for learning as knowledge can be found everywhere.

TPS: Do you think the search for knowledge in schools of the future will be more unstructured, researching, personalized and self-rewarding? If you were to be a learner of the future, what are your expectations?

Ashutosh & Ankita: Schools in the future will likely turn into research institutes where the young scientists would develop a sense of ownership while creating experiments and making their own new discoveries. With the changing trend of classroom delivery by a teacher, the role of the teacher has also changed. Although discipline never plays a back seat in maintaining the decorum of a class but students are expected to unleash their potentials and creativities to explore the unexplored with their imaginations.

Ashutosh Aggarwal, B.E.(Mech). Hons, is Founder & Secretary, Sanskriti The Gurukul, Guwahati; Co-Founder, The Atelier (www.the-atelier.org), Guwahati & Bangalore; and Jt.Secretary, Happy Child High school, Guwahati. He haas been awarded the White Swan award by AsiaOne Magazine, as the Most Influential Leader in Education, 2015-16. He is passionate about bringing a change in the education system of the country. He is a dedicated Maths Educator and teaches classes X-XII. He is also the Charter President, The Toastmasters Club of Guwahati. He is an able leader and administrator andbelieves in the empowerment of the team. He believes in 7C’s in Education: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Citizenship, CharacterBuilding & Compassion.

Born in Guwahati, exploring life has always been Ankita Das’ passion. Holding a dual Masters degree in English with Communication Studies from Christ University, Bangalore and MSW from St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, Bangalore, she always wanted to work with children to motivate and understand them. Hence, to fulfill this objective, she returned back to her hometown as an English and Life Skills educator. This has made her achieve the ultimate purpose of getting to know the psyche of children and teenagers. Apart from being passionate about teaching, she is a Toastmaster and a strong believer of constant self improvement. She is also a cycling enthusiast and a nature lover who find deep connection amidst nature.