Need of the Hour: A More Student-centric Learning Environment

September 5, 2011

‘Lead kindly Light, amidst the encircling gloom

Lead thou me on…

A hymn written by a young priest, John Henry Newman in the year 1833 has a lot of message of its own in every sense to every child. One step enough for me, a song can be related as an eye opener to carry forward the thirst of knowledge and seeking God.

In this 21st century, we Indians as a whole are striving forward towards growth, development, a healthy-wealthy society. We all can dedicate this progress of our nation to the progress of knowledge by means of education. Every Indian is respected all over the World for his immense potential and of course for the progress of our country. Whom shall we dedicate this great achievement? Someone at the corner whispered to me, the great politicians, and someone told me the industrialists and one more felt scientists and so on….

But heart of heart I felt, it is because of the dedication of our unsung heroes “teachers”  who moulded every child to bloom to be a good citizen and of course whatever filed of his/her expertise. Every great person was a student of some teacher during his formative years to pre-professional life. On this great day I wish to convey that, ‘Our teachers’ brought the developments though through their students. I once again ask humbly every teacher, Lead kindly light amidst the darkness of lack of knowledge, each day one step is enough for me to get knowledgeable to swim across the fathomless ocean of knowledge.

It is a great pleasure to be a student as many a time student days are related to golden days in one’s life. It is true when we have a conducive environment, colleges and above all ‘good teachers’.

The education system is the same age old system wherein teacher centred marathon lecture based “teaching” is the primary source of information. Most of the time, ‘teachers age-old notes, becomes the notes of student without even entering the brains of either’. With the present information and computer technology, teacher’s power-point notes become the soft copy notes of the student. At the end of the semester, the memory exercise of the student proves as the best, and one who vomits it to the best of his/her ability becomes the best student.

We need a reformation in the present education system. We have to come out of the ‘teacher-centric teaching concept to the student–centred active learning curriculum. In student centred learning concept, student is the active learners and the teachers are the facilitators as well as learners. Both student-teachers are the learners! Most of us ‘teachers’ are the egocentric personalities and thought “I am the authority – encyclopaedia of knowledge.

Information technology and media has proved that wrong as many a time I find present student are also equally (or more) knowledgeable. Because of the information overload we need our teachers to take the role of facilitator in facilitating the learning process. What we thought earlier and also now, lecture can teach only few concepts and many a time the peak grasping power of the student fades away within 25 to 30 minutes. That means remaining 30 minutes may be a waste of time as the student must be already fatigued or may be silently in his own world (pretending to be concentrating just for the fear of lecturer). Lecture can deliver only audible information which may be forgotten in minutes. We need to highlight interactive learning, more of teacher guided seminars, project work, small group discussions, problem solving sessions or problem based learning, visits, camps role plays etc.

Learning is not only to get good grades rather learning must bring an all-round change (development) of personality along with knowledge. Most of the student curse themselves during the examination, sometimes may end with suicide, unable to bear the stress; for the simple reason our education system has made learning as pain but we teachers and education system must change over this painful learning into pleasurable learning by adopting most of the present day reformation to suit our student.

In our country we only look for good students, that’s why this academic year, Delhi University was looking for student scoring 100% marks for enrolment. What a tragedy of our education system. How many of us can earn 50% marks leave alone 100%! Average to below average students always outnumber not only in India but in the entire globe. Our main concern should be to the average student, to make him/her to gain knowledge and scrolls. A so called good student many a time doesn’t even require a teacher as he has the potential to learn. Friends on this beautiful day, I dedicate my achievement to all my unsung heroes/heroines – "teachers" who have moulded my life and future. GOD BLESSES ALL OUR TEACHERS. A HAPPY TEACHERS DAY.

By Dr Urban D'Souza
Dr Urban is a professor in School of Medicine, University Malaysia Sabah.
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Comment on this article

  • Jones, Manipal

    Tue, Sep 06 2011

    Dr Urban D'Souza, thank u for sharing your views, indeed a touching article.
    I too feel there is a serious necessity to have changes in the present education system especially to bring out the talents in the average students.

  • Alban D Souza, Udyavara Mumbai Doha Qatar

    Mon, Sep 05 2011

    A good article on Education system. Even though India is IT hub worldwide Everyone knows that the modern education system is commecialized and people make money through this means. Where can a poor student afford to do a simple Technical course in a private institutions by paying a huge amount ? Donations make a huge amount? Can one think of getting seat by merrit or influence. Few days back i saw a article that one of the Elementary school fading away in Mangalore due to lack of students and funds. In northern India if one pay money can get duplicate degree certificates and copying also going on publicly.

    Unless these wrong means eradicated standard of education remains the same only the prveviledged can get good education. Govt has to take some steps to eradicate all these and take the education to every nook and corner villages of the nation. No doubt India made a big name in IT sector and respected but where can a poor student go higher studies . Of course ther is a big role a teacher can change the life of the student by giving proper guidance and career goal. Let us hope for the best that the dream of Mahatma Ghandhi come true. Believe it or not still more than 50% population of India remains illiterate. I wish respect every Teacher on this day of sep. 05 2011 who made us to become educated.

  • A. S. Mathew, U.S.A.

    Mon, Sep 05 2011

    It is a great article touching one of the backward and sleeping national issue of India.

    I do remember my history teacher at college. Something he swallowed
    in his college days was leactured for five minitues,
    then told everybody to take the notes which he got from his teacher at college. If somebody could vomit his notes to the examination papers, that person got the highest score. Whether it was the 1st of 2nd world war, renaissance or reformation, he lectured " it made
    tremendous changes in the European world, and it had far reaching
    consequences in the Europen world".

    What a tragic and least productive
    educational format! Even though we
    are blindly rushing in following everything foreign, we have terribly and miserably failed to revive the age
    old educational system of India.
    We must push every student to be
    creative and to learn themselves
    from all the available sources to
    expand their knowledge in all the
    subjects possible. It is high time to revamp the educational system of India to match with the
    current age.

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