From passive to active learning, for a knowledgeable tomorrow!
The future of our nation depends on the children and the education which is guided by their teachers. Teaching is one of the most significant jobs in the world as they shape the young minds by imparting knowledge and good values. With the emergence of Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence taking over human interface, it is even more imperative for the teachers of today, to unlearn the yesteryears to adapt the new techniques of the future.
Today, the teaching methodology and the education system are yet to go through a sea of change. The Indian education system is undergoing a transition and adapting the ‘Best of the West’ to cultivate the nation’s human capital for the future through education. Most of the students sit and receive information, with little active engagement, except when it’s time to prepare for the exams. Current methods of teaching in India are still getting aligned with how the brain learns. It is easy for a student to be distracted in a lecture setting. Most students cannot concentrate fully during a lecture of 40 to 50 minutes. Many cannot even concentrate for five minutes; however if the interaction is one on one, the student tends to immediately snap back to alertness. This is the central idea behind a flipped classroom.
The classroom should not be a place for unidirectional, passive transmission of knowledge. That system was invented long ago, when there were no alternatives to oral transmission from teacher to student. But today all information is available to all students. In a flipped classroom model, students are expected to do the assigned reading before class, knowing that they may be called upon to communicate and analyse what they learned, either in front of the class or in breakout groups of their peers. The role of the teacher today is not to transmit knowledge but to engage students – to guide them in an interactive process of discussing, articulating, criticising, applying knowledge, as well as discovering new ones.
A solid body of research in cognitive neuroscience demonstrates that active methods lead to learning that is deeper, less easily forgotten and more readily deployed in addressing new problems and seizing new opportunities. The future is nothing but a set of unforeseen problems and opportunities. Active learning enables you to master current knowledge while preparing you for a future in which change is the only constant. Active learning seeks to engage the brain to the fullest, involving students in concentrated real-time interaction with ideas.
Perhaps the most diagnostic symptom of what affects Indian higher education is the large numbers of college graduates who remain unemployed, even as jobs remain vacant in a rapidly growing economy. The time is ripe for fresh ideas and radical reforms. If the education system is designed to spark student’s innate talents, then the staggering size of India’s youth population will be a national asset that propels the nation to unprecedented heights; if not, it will be a liability and a historic missed opportunity.
By Dr. Jamshed Bharucha, Vice Chancellor, SRM Amaravati