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Optimizing yourself

Make the child self sufficient and self reliant for the future

Photo of Chabi  Agarwal
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I am a.....

  • Human- Centered Designer and Researcher

Tell us about your idea

World around us has been changing, so are job requirements. Graduation degree no longer ensures job security. With Covid-19, things have changed so rapidly that even experts find difficulty in predicting future job requirements. Only one thing is constant and that is change. We need to prepare our children for this change, should be capable to adapt themselves to any situation. Equip them to think on their feet and find solutions to problems thrown on them.

Based on my research (attached) 7 capabilities that needs to be developed:

1. Pay attention to details-

- Be aware of their surrounding

- Be careful, notice things, make connections.

- Learn to question ‘What’

Shantiniketan school founded by Rabindranath Tagore on 1901, has an open and green sanctuary all around. Classes are held outside in open, where students can explore, touch and feel things around them. Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize winner, student of the school, says that his school was unusual in many ways, emphasis of the school was on fostering curiosity, rather than focusing on examination performance and grades.

2. Find meaning and logic

- Evaluate and validate information and data given to them. 

- Find out why things happen at a certain way.

- Learn to question ‘Why’

Lumiar School, school started by Ricardo Semler in 2002 in Brazil, believes in developing passion for learning in children. Children are divided based on their interest and skills, not on the basis of age. Children are given freedom to choose what they want to learn and are guided by tutors and mentors. A child learns more while practically doing things rather than listening to theory. Example, course where students need to build a cycle in 45 days. Students cannot build the cycle without knowing that pie is equal to 3.1416. So instead of rote learning, child experiences it.

3. Purpose

- Identify their goal or agenda

- Find out what other peoples agenda is for them or their community.

- Learn to question ‘What’

Swaraj University, founded in 2010 in India believes in identifying and developing different interests in students. Focuses on self-designed learning and social entrepreneurship. Students design their own course and syllabus, are not bounded by any pre set course structure. They believe in students finding their passion themselves.

4. Free thinking

- Help them think in an unrestrictive way

- Explore, experiment, be creative

- Learn to question ‘How’

John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, Georgist, and educational reformer started Laboratory school in 1894. Children were taken for field visit in farms, to see how fruits and vegetables grow. After which they played grocery store selling fruits and vegetables making them learn calculations. Child is made to experience the concept and implement it in their daily life

5. Plan

- Plan their course of action.

- Make an outline, organize the resources required

- Learn to question ‘Where’

An institution called SECMOL found in 1988 believes in building self confidence by increasing their awareness on cultural and environmental issues. Gives admission to students who have failed class 10. Campus is maintained and run by the students, they plan and look after the solar energy plant, the natural building construction, growing of vegetables in tough weather conditions.

6. Get together

- Learn to communicate with each other

- Learn to corporate and work as a team

- Learn to question ‘When’

In 2009, in India, Kiran Sethi founded the “Design for Change” movement with goal of getting children to drive change in their communities by unleashing what she calls their “I can superpower.” The movement to encourage youth volunteerism, which has since spread to more than 35 countries, is based on a simple but revolutionary model: It asks kids to feel any problem that bothers them, imagine a way to make it better, do an act of change, and share their story of change with the world.

7. Healthy relation

- Respect and support each other

- Appreciate and recognize the work done by others.

- Learn to question ‘Who’

Centre For Learning started in 1990 in Bangalore, India is based on J.Krishnamurti’s educational philosophy. It is a community of students and adults who are interested in learning about themselves and their relationship with the world. The learning involves exploration of emotions, thought process and response to real life challenges. Their day begins with close engagement with the natural world; bird watching, nature walks.

With these skills developed, the child will become self reliant, will understand him/her self better. Won’t feel that their happiness is dependant on other people, will help balance their emotion quotient. People or situations around them won’t affect their mental being.

There are various ways for developing these capabilities, one way is to incorporate them in form of different activities and stories. These can be developed along with the regular school work. Please go through the attached sample book on water.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Legendary American writer Mark Twain had said, ‘I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.’ Educationists all over the world are discussing the appalling environment of true learning. Teacher driven classrooms, lack of interaction between teacher and student. There is no creativity in teaching; same lectures are being delivered year after year. Everything in the end is to score good marks in the examination, which involves little thinking in the part of the student and a lot of rote learning. Little room for imagination and creativity. Very little emphasis on practical implementation of what is being taught in class. Children are not prepared for situations out of their textbook. Now all the information is available at a click through google, why are children still involved in rote learning. Focus should be on development of capabilities so that with all the information available on the internet, they can wisely and strategically use it to solve their problem.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I have been part of the mainstream school but I guess was never very satisfied with it. I did not realise what I was missing till I finally stepped out of my home for my higher education. I finally got a chance to explore myself and my surroundings and found out that things were very different than what I was prepared for during my school days. This lead to my quest to identify the shortcomings in the education system. I have visited and interned at various educational institutes all over India and my idea is an amalgamation of everything that resonated with me.

What region are you located in?

  • Southern Asia

Where are you located?

am located in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. We roughly have a population of 45 lakhs. Children here start going to school from the age of 1.5 or even early. Schooling system hasn’t really changed over the years. There are hardly any co ed schools, still have the conventional way of teaching with a teacher student ratio of about 1:50. The focus is more on the academic front than on overall holistic development.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sarah Nethan

Hi Chabi Agarwal 
Thank you for such a meaningful contribution to this challenge!

I could totally resonate with your experience with the Indian education system. Despite people being progressive and having a "modern" 21st century lifestyle, many schools still follow the age-old approach of one-way instructional education delivery. I can see your idea comes from a deep empathy and concern for students in India - your research is reflective of that. I'm curious to learn more about the book in the that what you propose as an idea as the first step of change in the present education system? How do you envision it in the present COVID-19 situation?

With the Ideas submission phase ending in about 3 hours, I would love for you to update your submission with any additional information from the comments (eg. reflections, questions answered, etc), to ensure that all of your insights are well captured for our evaluators. You can edit your post by hitting the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post.

Thank you and good luck!

Photo of Chabi  Agarwal

Hi Sarah Nethan,

Thank you so much for going through the post and sharing your views on it. Ideally I would like to change the education system completely and make it more practical and hands-on and shift the focus from only academics to development of these capabilities amongst children; look at holistic development of children. But since that is not possible immediately, the book is suggestion for a possible first step. It could be in introduced as a subject or a class, where the children are involved in integrating all their learning from different subjects and actively participate in various activities. Theses activities cannot be solved by rote learning, it involves planning, critical thinking and decision making. Hence preparing the child to face the unpredictable future.