Online education: Another Brick in the Wall

Online education: Another Brick in the Wall

To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” –Nicolaus Copernicus
Knowledge in its true essence is neither any teaching in the conventional sense of the word, nor about filling the empty minds of largely passive students with facts and figures. Rather, it is a shared dialogue between teacher and student in which both are responsible for carrying forward the process of learning through questioning and enquiry. In fact, this method is all about promoting critical thinking and understanding. The beauty of this method lies in the fact that the teacher is as much a participant as a guide in the discussion and dialogue process.
The pedagogues who practice the Socratic method of teaching don’t rely on power-point slides, lesson plans, or pre-conceived notions. Rather, dialogue remains the most effective and necessary mechanism to inculcate the necessary traits and values and to attain the desired objectives. This approach to the acquisition of knowledge unravels the assumed purposes and motivations of life. In fact, it is all about what everyone thinks or feels about the world. Not only this, it also teaches us how to lead a good life and how that good life comes only through true knowledge. In a nutshell, it bestows real happiness, which is the highest good.

Perils of Online Platforms
In India, internet penetration is only 50 percent. According to NSSO, most of the internet-enabled homes in India are located in urban areas, but even there only 42 percent of the population has internet access. In the hinterlands, only 15 percent of the population has access to internet. As per the International Institute of Management Development, our country is at 44th rank in terms of digital competitiveness. Although we have improved in terms of knowledge and future readiness, still there is a long way to go.
Lack of access and affordability continues to plague students and teachers alike. Teachers and students both are merely completing formalities. Besides, cost to health with continuous exposure to screens is altogether a different story.
Rigid insistence on rote learning has undermined proper and constructive academic interaction between teachers and students as well as exposed them to a pressure-cooker syndrome. Children are exposed to attractions of virtual world without any safety nets. Rectangular screens can hardly change or nurture the analytical ability of students. In fact, this has merely introduced the culture of competitiveness and accelerated the thriving market of ready-made tests.
What is more worrying is that we are creating ignorant masses who are lacking in critical reasoning and progressive thinking. In other terms, we are simply manufacturing literate passive subjects and not thinkers or pioneers.
It’s high time for institutions all over the nation to re-reconsider the prevalent approach towards exams and grading system. They must also introspect on the impact of stressful exams and explore innovative ways of evaluation of the teaching and learning process. Our education system need not be fixated on exams and target completion of the academic year. We need to reimagine education and build an equitable, effective, and resilient educational system.
In order to attain these objectives, educational institutions’ office bearers should start taking substantial initiatives, avoid short-sighted decisions, and decentralise decision making. This will overhaul the education system in our country and make India a global knowledge superpower aligned with the SDG-04 envisioned by our National Education Policy.
All cannot be fair in pedagogic spaces. We need to reclaim the vision of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Education has never been about degrees and accolades. It is beyond marketing principles. There is a dire need to mend the flaws of our educational system so that we can learn to serve and serve to learn. It is only true knowledge which can help in promoting the realisation of the highest good. True knowledge is permanent. It entails a good life and culminates in sound moral character.

The writer teaches Geography at GDC Kulgam. [email protected]

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