/ Education /  Rationalize school curriculum – Promote Creativity, critical thinking and character building

 Rationalize school curriculum – Promote Creativity, critical thinking and character building

Peoples Voice on March 25, 2018 - 8:30 pm in Education

Mukhtar Ahmad
Former Professor -Electrical Engineering, AMU Aligarh

Recent decision of  MHRD government of India to invite suggestions to rationalize curriculum in order to create balance between cognitive and analytical areas with other life skills including creativity and sports,  is a welcome step. Whether it is public or government maintained education schools or colleges, the main aim of all educators is to help their students succeed in life.. The system and method of teaching which was considered 50 years ago to be good  is no longer enough for success in college, career, and life  in the 21st century.  The challenges of the twenty-first century are complex along with environmental, social and economic pressures.  It therefore requires young people to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable.  They must have strong motivation, confidence and skills to use critical and creative thinking purposefully. This capability combines two types of thinking: critical thinking and creative thinking. Though the two are not interchangeable, they are highly  linked, bringing complementary dimensions to thinking and learning.  In order to encourage students to engage themselves in creative and critical activities they must be given time  to spend in school and outside.   If they are overloaded with the  normal curriculum they are not able to devote time for creative activities.  Similarly the atmosphere in and around our society is not very conducive for character building.The educators feel  that the primary responsibility for character development is  at home. But, one can see that many of  students do not get proper environment for character education at home and in the society. According to Martin Buber, philosopher “Education worthy of its name is essentially education of  character. Character education is equally important if not more than acquiring the skills  as it represents a relationship between knowledge, values and skills necessary for success in life. Each teacher shall endeavour to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism ,meaning of equality, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of every citizen of the country, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations

The link between critical thinking and education is very strong.   To  learn well thinking well is essential.. Critical thinking not only contributes to career success but also to succeed in higher education and research. conducted, University of Oregon professor David T. Conley during his research has found  that “habits of mind” such as “analysis, interpretation, precision and accuracy, problem-solving, and reasoning” can be as or more important than content knowledge in determining success in college courses. Teaching and learning critical thinking and problem solving effectively in the classroom is vital for students.  To develop other skills, such as a higher level of concentration, deeper analytical abilities, and improved thought processing critical learning is essential.. Today’s citizens must be active critical thinkers if they are to compare evidence, evaluate competing claims, and make sensible decisions. The solutions to international problems, such as global warming, require highly developed critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. In everyday work, employees must employ critical thinking to better serve customers, develop better products, and continuously improve themselves to progress in the company..  In the world of automation the jobs  least likely to be automated or outsourced—are those that require expert thinking and complex communication. Examples of critical thinking skills are interpreting, analysing, evaluating, explaining, sequencing, reasoning, comparing, questioning, inferring, hypothesising, appraising, testing and generalising.

Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome. This includes combining parts to form something original, sifting and refining ideas to discover possibilities, constructing theories and objects, and acting on intuition. Singapore and Korea are two good examples of countries emphasising creativity, critical thinking and character building in their curricula. Since 2009, Korea expects its schools to foster creativity as part of quality subject-based learning – but also to devote almost 10% of overall school time to projects and other transversal activities that foster creativity. At the end of secondary school, the students are expected to be “resilient in the face of adversity”, “innovative and enterprising” as well as “able to think critically and communicate persuasively.

The Indian school education system is one of the largest and most complex in the world. The complexity of the system stems from India’s need to maintain standard and uniformity, while giving scope for its diverse culture and heritage to grow and flourish across the length and breadth of the country. One of the major problem in school education is teaching languages . As India has different languages in different regions , students are required to study three languages which takes away lot of time of students.  In order to reduce the burden a student may opt one language as the main or primary language and other two may be secondary and given less weightage  in time . NCERT which is responsible for producing textbooks for school education has tried to engage specialists to produce text. However, our education system is still examination marks based where memorising plays major role.  Apart from this the syllabus is too heavy for students to cope with . They do not get time to develop their other skills and engage in creative activities. It is therefore a good step by MHRD to reduce the contents of syllabi at school level. It will surely free  students from stress and give them time to pursue other activities. In all other subjects 10 % reduction in syllabus will be very much appreciated by the teachers and the students.

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