Nov 4, 2010


My friend who has more than twenty years of teaching experience met me the other day and said, "The New Education Policy is like the New Cinthol." Struck by the simile I asked him how. "Didn't you notice." he said, "The cake itself has become smaller. Only the wrapper is glossier and more attractive."
'Why don't you be more serious and precise?' I said in a serious tone.
"Look here", he said , " I have always said serious things non-seriously but people have taken me unseriously. I have nothing to lose. You see, education should aim at improving peoples' quality of life -- not just of some privileged people but of all the people, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged. True, after World War II many countries attained independence and the educational aspirations of the common and uncommon people all over the world exploded like a genie from a bottle. Education expanded. But expansion and quality do not go together. Schools, colleges, universities and doomed – sorry -- deemed universities increased in number. Consequently, the number shot up exponentially in terms of graduates, postgraduates and doctors -- I mean PhDs. The educated class grew. But growths can be benignant as well as malignant."
'Much of it sounds like Philip Coomb's The World Crisis in education.' I interrupted to put the brakes.
"Thank God, it wasn't The World Cries in Education", he said and continued. "A great many teachers both qualified and unqualified, were forced to teach, most often with one arm tied behind them, like a farmer without a hoe or a plough. This often meant that everyone was going through the motions of 'schooling,' but with little being learnt. Tell me, if any one of our own universities, or, for that matter, even Oxford or Cambridge or UCLA or Harvard, apart from 'distributing' degrees, also guarantees humaneness or even common sense. Did they ever have a Professor of Good Sense? Why, even just sense would do!"
'But what is wrong with the new education policy? 'I said.
"Why? Have they thought of the basic structure? The rest of the things follow. Education should have three parallel branches: teaching, research and administration. All good teachers are neither good researchers nor good administrators. They try to put square pegs in round holes by asking a good researcher to teach. They should know that no teaching is better than bad teaching! You will ask me how a teacher will improve. Certainly, not through research on his own. In fact, research should be done by persons with the right aptitude.  And this research should feed into refresher courses for the teachers' improvement. For administration they should have people with sense -- the sense I was talking about. Can you play a ball-game without having the much needed ball-sense? And above all, they should understand, a good teacher is very fragile, very breakdownable. If they don't, he might do something today the results of which will show only after thirty years!"
'I take you rather seriously now,' I said, 'but can I quote you?'
"No", he said, "I want to be as famous as the famous Anon!"

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