Tapping Young Minds

If we are to look for innovation, our target should be the young generation with independent minds.

 

Everyone is talking of a New Normal these days, in the backdrop of the Covid-19 outbreak across the world with the spread and numbers ever increasing. In fact, the world was caught unawares by the virus and we are still grappling with the crisis. As the search for a vaccine continue in many laboratories the world over, including India, it still eludes us. And our leaders are left with no alternative but to look for ways for learning to live with Covid-19. Thus, the search for a ‘New Normal.’

The outbreak has affected each and every aspect of our lives, including social and economic. Yet, the most devastating impact has been on our children and youth with the closure of schools, colleges and other educational institutions, to contain the spread of the virus. Schools and colleges are still being used as Quarantine Centres, both community and institutional. Even the premises of a private school in Imphal West have been converted into a Covid Care Centre, so as to relieve the pressure on state-run hospitals.

Yet, the future is very bleak. A whole generation has been affected, as the lockdown continued for more than three months. While the government has slowly started to ease the restrictions of the lockdown, educational institutions are still closed. Some efforts were made through online teaching in some institutions. But it was discontinued as many students, particularly the poorer sections, do not
have access to smartphones and laptops.

Online teaching has never been and would not ever become a viable substitute for the classroom, in the teaching-learning process. One has to understand the social and psychological processes involved in classroom teaching starting from the ancient traditions of Guru-Sishya, and its contributions to shaping or moulding the young as a positive force or future pillars of the nation.

A hands-on and personal approach is involved in the classroom, while online teaching is entirely impersonal. An impersonal approach in education would result in rolling out robots and not positive human beings.

We understand, the state Education Department, under the leadership of the Education Minister Th Radheshyam Singh has been initiating a series of consultations and workshops with different stakeholders in recent times, in the search for finding viable options to reopen schools and colleges.

The department began by inviting opinions and suggestions on alternative means of teaching-
learning process, from every section of the society through its website, to which
many responded.

However, most of the responses were driven by caution and fear of the virus, and totally bereft of imagination or new approaches. It is as expected, as most of the respondents were from the older generation, like teachers and parents or elderly citizens.

If we are to look for innovation or imagination, our target should be the young generation, who generally are fresh and open-minded, while not bound or burdened by hangovers. Here, we are not talking of the numerous student organisations, but of independent young minds. In order to pick their brains, surely a provocation is required. That is for the government to find out.

First Published:July 21, 2020, 12:34 a.m.

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