Thursday, September 4, 2008

A thought on Teacher's Day

"The aim of education is not the acquisition of information, although important, or acquisition of technical skills, though essential in modern society, but the development of that bent of mind, that attitude of reason, that spirit of democracy which will make us responsible citizens."
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

I am wondering how much it's true after several decades. In fact teaching, regarded as prestigious job and great service to society and formal education, believed to be an achievement irrespective of the work done. As in other post "is quality or culture dropping" , where I was pointing out, it's not the quality drops. It's the culture which does not seem to exist now.
But today in this post I wanted to tell something different. I was attending the classes of linear algebra. May be because of late night bed habits or the presentation style is too abstract for me, I was unable to follow many things taught in the class. The professor was trying to push enthusiasm to learn it, make it as tool for our works. Still I missed continuity in the lecture. Hmm it's not a unique situation. Just before writing this post, I was talking to my old student Nisha, who was telling me "its a great opportunity and life time achievement to be a part of IIT" . I was asking her back; why can't she be a part of that. She is working, so as most of other students of mine. I expected a usual response of "not interested to study more....... or I wish I could, but no time" . Instead I got an answer, "next year.. If god decides so". That was a joyfull moment. In situations where people go for work and can not go to a common place and learn, seems impossible. And to get in to IIT is a tough job. ( IITans say going out is more tougher , lol )
What I am talking is an alternative to learn things in more efficient way. If you miss continuity, or if you wish to learn subject but in a time convenient to you what you can try.
It's a different trend altogether in method of teaching/learning process. People who started thinking in positive lines about this problem of quality and culture, has found excellent solutions. With the help of technology, it's possible now to study subjects from people who make that a passion. I am talking about the internet archives and discussion forums coming up in world wide basis, to collaborate and learn in better ways. Other universities, following the MIT culture to share their resources for other parts of the world. In this way we see a paradigm shift in the teaching learning process. India has launched NPTEL and Ekalavya channel following these lines of thought. Wikipedia has started wikiversity and wikibooks for the same reason
Here are a few links which gives out free resources
I request you to encourage such learning process and contribute to movements like wikis for collaborative learning.
so what we lack now? It's propogation of this to common people. The Information Technology tool is like an unpolished jewel. Polish it well and keep it open to common people. Let's propogate the new trend to make it a success so that vision of our great leaders including our former president, Dr A P J Abdulkalam can be achieved.

Jai Hind