From Knowledge To Wisdom, Kolkata Educator Assesses Education 3.0 Post-COVID

Swati Sarawagi
From Knowledge To Wisdom, Kolkata Educator Assesses Education 3.0 Post-COVID

Over the last few weeks, I have been bombarded by companies who are offering online classes and videos, capitalizing on the need created by the pandemic and our unpreparedness. I was also bombarded by messages from parents who are juggling their fears along with their children, domestic chores and professional work. They are scared of the unknown and technology for most falls within that category.

Then I’m bombarded with requests to attend well-intentioned webinars on The Way Forward, where experts are trying to figure out the way forward! Engaged in endless conversations on lockdown, the pandemic has changed our thinking and our proverbs. Uncertainty loves company it seems.

The more this lockdown extends with relentless panic-inducing information and no clarity or relief in sight, the more exhausting it is. It doesn’t feel normal to add more content or more to-do lists. It’s a time to find out what really matters and focus on that.

It is also time to move from knowledge to wisdom. We were so busy doling out lessons on things which don’t matter anymore that we forgot about the ones that do. For example, the importance of spending time with family members. My son has been home from University since classes became online. After 10 years of being abroad and visiting only during holidays, this might be the longest period he has spent with his grandparents. He is disciplining them into maintaining their diet and exercise and adds laughter to their dreary day as only a grandchild can do. In return, he is learning how a joint family works, and other social skills, which may otherwise have remained only theory without practice. He is learning the fine balance of acceptance and assertion. It’s a shift away from (bookish) knowledge to (real-life) wisdom.

The reason why I mention this is because, in small and different ways, we are all experiencing some positive effects of this imposed lockdown. It is giving us an opportunity to pause and think about how we may be better and healthier, and how we can be a leader in times of crisis, fear and change. We are trying to figure out how we can be of service.

Experts have been urging for changes to be made to education for the longest time. Reimagining and revitalising education were among the catchphrases in all seminars (before webinars became the norm). But in reality, it is not easy to imagine, let alone change, unless circumstances force us to. We kept emphasising the need for critical thinking, student-led education and collaboration. But a major change needs a major disruption. And COVID is the one. We will have to unlearn what we have always known: rows of desks, heavy bags, mass lectures and public exams. Unlearn those, and we can establish the new normal of education.

As Mr T V Mohandas Pai, Padma Shri Awardee and current Chairman of Manipal Global Education, says, "Its time for Education 3.0."

Education 1.0 was marked by the presence of Gurukuls of India. Its features highlighted:

  • High quality
  • High teacher to student ratio
  • Flexible schedules and syllabi that were highly personalized to every student’s requirements (Kshatriyas were taught the art of warfare from the beginning)
  • Wide-span of subjects, from astronomy to zoology

But it suffered setbacks like:

  • Fundamentally unscalable
  • Limited knowledge that was closely guarded (imagine our scriptures being guarded by the Brahmins)
  • Restricted access to the most fortunate and influential (imagine being a student like Eklavya)
  • Thus formal education remained the realm of the privileged few for centuries while the bulk of economic output was driven by human labour.

Then the Industrial Age transformed Society.

Industrial Age was marked by:

  • Rapid technological transformations that reshaped the meaning of economies of scale in society
  • Machines replaced human labour
  • With the steam engine, the automobile, the aeroplane, the radio, television, the harvester, and the satellite, the labour requirements changed
  • The real need was for more educated and trained people in the workforce to manage these machines and design better ones

So the model became Education 2.0 - Broadcast + Assembly Line Model

This entailed Mass enrolment

  • One-to-many information dissemination
  • Focus on rote learning and term-based testing
  • One method to teach them all

And was marked by:

  • Poor Quality
  • Prioritization of literacy and recall over problem-solving and curiosity-driven exploration
  • Forced-expansion at the cost of personalization and dedicated attention
  • Knowledge still limited to books and syllabus

Education 2.0 became focused on mass enrolment and it seems to have served its purpose at the cost of quality.

It’s time now for Education 3.0:

  • Humanity’s accumulated knowledge is now freely available on the internet.
  • Rich and vibrant content, flipped classroom learning, and research material from the best sources on any subject is available for free.
  • On-demand learning, p2p learning, personalised and generative course structure to meet individual needs. Individualised and differentiated means teaching each student uniquely to meet unique needs and paces.
  • Information memorization and brute force recall are made irrelevant. Problem solving, curiosity and innovation are key.
  • Technology has allowed pedagogy to collaborate with the best companies to unleash solutions at scale.
  • Knowledge networks personalised and adaptive learning, blended education, data-driven continuous assessments are now the tools available for a better educational journey and experience.
  • The purpose of evaluation activities now shifts focus from an assessment of learning (aka grading) to assessment for learning, which means using the results to know whether the intended learning outcomes have been achieved by the students or whether they need extra work to help them master a certain topic.

We must optimise to help students become problem solvers rather than information assimilators. Education 3.0 can be the force multiplier to create an innovative future-ready youth.

We must remember the fundamental purpose of education. When a person is educated, he or she becomes a better person. Our aim is to produce intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually balanced and harmonious individuals who will then contribute to the harmony and betterment of the family, society and the nation at large. Fall back on this philosophy and everything will fall into place.

Swati Sarawagi
Founder and Director Swarnim International School
ECA Territory Head Kolkata 

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