TED Conversations

Shahzad Alam

Program Coordinator, New Era Teacher Training Centre

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Schooling must develop in the students the capabilities required for being engaged in a life-long process of learning.

We are at a very critical juncture in history. We have resources available to us unimaginable in the past- financial resources, knowledge, technology, human resources, wealth of experience etc. We are also facing crisis very unique to our age. Everything we thought we knew about ourselves and our universe is constantly evolving and/or changing.

The most important role schools can play now is to prepare individuals who know how to learn and who take ownership of their own learning and development of the society around them. The schools themselves need to be in the process of constant learning and they also need to learn to create environment where individuals can learn to learn- both individually and collectively.

The question to ask ourselves are: what changes are required in the structure of schools? How can schools start focusing more on capacity building rather than information accumulation? What kind of environment encourages ownership in learning? How can schools be themselves involved in learning?

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    Nov 14 2013: Intriguing questions.

    I think that both schools and the average parents are mainly preparing kids to take part in a rat race called “living on this planet”. I think that this rat race is caused by our biological habit to establish a hierarchy. To me, this is the equivalent of fighting your way to a place in the pecking order. Having said this, I think that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with hierarchy in society or at schools.

    However: I think that hardly anyone on this planet is AWARE of the fact that he is participating in this competition on a daily basis. It has become a natural habit, taught to generations of children by generations of parents and teachers.

    I think that we have to teach children that there is competition and there is a hierarchy to be established, but that they have a choice, as adults, when to stop the competition. It should be enough for grownups to choose do the life they like and to choose the profession they are good at. You don’t need to dramatically change school systems to do this.

    We, ourselves should be aware when we are competing, and we should be aware that competing is OK as long as it is voluntary. This world is big enough to support all of us. (I hope)

    In the case of changing education systems, I think that we need consensus about the cause first. If we don’t find the real reason why things have to be changed, we might just be curing symptoms.
    • Nov 14 2013: "We, ourselves should be aware when we are competing, and we should be aware that competing is OK as long as it is voluntary." People need to realize that the quest to obtain status is a game, and that those who choose not to play aren't necessarily losers. Without that awareness any system wherein status is determined by wealth, occupation, influence, etc. is a religion.
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        Nov 15 2013: Or better yet, we need to learn to change the game and it's rules so that competition and the habits of thoughts it promotes may die out and be replaced by cooperation and habits of thoughts that promote cooperation.

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