We have evolved from “a rolling stone gathers no moss” to “change is the only changeless thing”.
Gone are the days when it took a lifetime or more for things to change. The last 20 years have put us through multiple changes in almost all aspects of our daily and professional lives. You are ostracised if you think otherwise. The gentle ones call you “old-fashioned” and the harsh ones call you “a regressive fanatic”.
At first look, I give the quick impression of being the second. I have to blame my vehement style of talking and a husky, near-male voice thanks to years of inhaling asthma medicines. I am actually the opposite. Oh well, not quite. You could say I play the devil’s advocate. I only attempt to point out the dangers of embracing something without discretion. I ask that we consider that somethings may not be all be that good.
If there’s one area where change is bad but is irreversibly happening is in the field of education. I can say this because I have been in the tertiary education field for 14 years now.
Talking of education, the system of education as we know – scores of children, selected from similar demographic backgrounds, listening to teachers for 20 years and still not having any real practical skill – is quite a recent phenomenon.
In all societies, education was specific to families and professions. It was never understood as ability to read and write. People learned the skills and competencies from childhood, within and besides their families. There was no stress of failing, because you cannot fail when you learn from your own people who have been doing it for centuries.
Such a model surely created pockets of skills that were not easily shared with outsiders. What was in the family or clan was passed on only to its members. Such a situation was ideal for excellence because excellence takes time; excellence cannot happen with first timers struggling to get out something within a deadline.
In the business school scene in India, education is a business; offered like a “service” leading to the dangerous situation where the student thinks of himself as a “customer” expecting that he be educated without being disciplined or without putting himself to hard work.
Education, like medicine, is not a service. I cant find a word to describe. It is a relationship based on trust and respect from the receiver of education or medical care and ethical responsibility and professional pride on the part of the teacher or doctor.
When you simplify it as a customer-service provider relationship, it gets ugly.
I see students today saying opening that they have paid huge fees and therefore should be pandered to. Their misdemeanours pardoned and irresponsibilities looked over.
Going to learn something or get treated is like going to a gym. You pay huge amounts to be a member of the gym. But you do not lose weight or gain shape because you paid. You have to work, sweat till it aches and pains in every bit of your body. It is implicit that you are responsible to go through the grind to get what you want. The gym is just the place with the facilities to do that and with facilitators who advice you how to go about it.
An educational institution is like a gym. But a much better place. As much as skills, you learn character at a place of education. Character that is the foundation for any career in any field – honesty, integrity, social responsibility, conscientiousness, and other traits that are indispensable for building organisations and societies.
You do not develop those qualities if you do not want to be disciplined because you paid a lot of fees. Sure you did. By paying the fees, you expressed consent to be disciplined in the ways considered appropriate by the institution.
That seems to be lost on many students today. The severe competition and fight for survival among business schools in India doesn’t let the owners and managers of these places to uphold the basic tenets of education. It is not a service or a business. It is beyond that.
Gone indeed are the days of “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. Today, When the teacher is ready, the student may come”.