Another bullying incident here, a racist incident there!
Deficit of empathy, tolerance, or global and multi-cultural outlook?
Another student gives in to the pressure of not being able to score the highest marks!
Missing perseverance, resilience, or willpower?
Parents and friends caught unaware!
Lack of effective communication or weak interpersonal relationships?
One student suicide every hour! At 10,335, 2020 saw most student suicides in 25 years, states NCRB.
Pertinent questions to ask are if we have focused too much on the scoring of marks rather than how to excel in life? Isn’t there a critical need to shift focus from building not only the IQ but also to bring EQ into the consideration ambit? Has the meaning of success reduced to self-appeasement rather than the ability to give back to society as socially conscious beings? Are the high marks guarantee of success – given that success is a subjective concept, ever-changing its form in this global village?
As a parent, we all want our children set up for success in life, not just at school or in a competitive exam. Identifying and leveraging the best education system is a major part of that wish. This is where we tend to get caught up in a dilemma when searching for the right school. Do we focus on the right curriculum and compromise on the school culture or should the focus be on the culture of the school irrespective of the curriculum it provides?
Curriculum vs Culture
Popular board in India, best board for higher education abroad, easy board for securing high marks, etc are some of the top Google recommendations when you search for “curriculum”! It is indeed common knowledge that CBSE is the most followed curriculum in India with state boards and CISCE (ISC & ICSE) occupying the next slot. In recent times, there has been a spurt of schools offering the IB curriculum originating from Switzerland and the UK favoured IGCSE curriculum! Each one has its value-addition, methods of assessment, and mode of imparting education.
While there are choices, our selection of an education system shouldn’t be limited by the curriculum that seems most attractive, for this may let us fall prey to rote learning. Ill-effects of rote learning could not have been more clearly captured than by the college scene in ‘3 Idiots’! I am sure the referred scene has already flashed in your memory! Besides, connected learning, deeper understanding, and concept clarity also remain a myth under the rote learning technique. Further, can any curriculum, guarantee success in life? Have we ever segregated successful people based on their educational curriculum? While each curriculum may have its advantages or popularity scale, if we look past the top layer, we may realize that a curriculum goes as far as only passing of the knowledge – its form and mode may vary.
Culture on the other hand is an implicit curriculum in itself. A positive culture is an indispensable feature of excellence. An environment that focuses on the physical, social, intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural side of education.
An all-around holistic focus on creativity, sports, and life skills is the elixir to triumph over life’s challenges. Isn’t this what an education system must aspire to achieve? An effective communication, efficient collaborative environment amongst teachers and students, and a healthy eco-system that is conducive for the improvement of student achievement are strong determinants of personality building. It is these determinants that foster complete synchronization of core values and envisioned future. A much-desired step that shall empower our students to logically identify challenges, intelligently pull in resources to overcome them with agility to take failures in stride, and adaptability to turn them into opportunities while staying grounded through it all.
Schools must create a true global experience6ttt by providing exposure to multi-cultural systems and a diverse outlook for developing true global citizens who are sensitive, tolerant, and open to new ideas and ways of life. Forging global associations with renowned academic bodies, facilitating teacher and student exchange programs are some of the popular ways to achieve this. Some Indian schools, like Genesis Global School, Noida have forged such alliance with Round Square, Clifton College of UK, Middlesex University of England, Gredos San Diego (GSD) of Spain, Ermitage International School of France, and Schloss Neubeuern of Germany, The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and Microsoft. It is also necessary to associate with industry bodies to provide students with real-time experiences beyond textbooks. Along with the alliances, Wi-Fi-enabled campuses, spacious e-classrooms, a multimedia library, and computerized labs at par with international standards encourage students to explore and discover the world outside school. All of this and more, may or may not be a part of the curriculum but a school with strong culture enables all this. Overarching above everything a school has to offer, it is also important to have a constant evaluation and audit of the organisation, by groups such as the Council of International Schools (CIS), that ensure the best global practices are observed and if needed, improved upon in the school.
A GLOBAL CITIZEN
This is the era of digital natives who were born with the globe at their fingertips, and internet language as their primary language. Surely, an applaud-worthy sign of fast-paced technological evolution. However, this evolution needs a good driver in the form of a global citizen essential to maintain the trajectory of creating an interconnected world. Only then we shall understand that focusing on progressive culture rather than an extensive curriculum is the need of the hour. Application-based learning is good but also important is to learn to collaborate and elicit the best performance from average. If we stop underestimating the impact of a school’s culture on students, probably we might get better equipped also to arrest the rising distress among students!