Understanding Science education in today’s context: Is it just to churn out professionals and earn a hefty pay cheque?
By Dr. Rakhi Roy, Parent of Rishit Roy, Grade V, Ekya ITPL.
Every parent aspires the best for their child, be it in any aspect of life – education being given utmost priority. More often, the aspirations are innate, to what we as parents have not been able to achieve ourselves. As a result, inadvertently, we begin the journey, with a mountain of expectations and bated breath from an oblivious tiny tot.
Science education, unfortunately, is associated with a lot of societal demands. (We talk about child peer pressure; well, parental peer pressure seems to be worse). Usually, the parent wants the child to take up science, not because the child is interested, but because, they can be proud (yes, in bold) parents, of a child who “has taken science in senior secondary school” and is all set to become either a clinician or an engineer. To achieve this no mean feat, the tot is pressure cooked right from the choice of pre-school. Why? Because, we all are participants in this “life-athon” to become “well established, amongst the affluent (read materialistic?) and socially elite”. Paradoxically, the word ‘Science’ is derived from the Latin word ‘scientia’ meaning ‘knowledge’.
Consequently, the message we convey is – opt for science to become an engineer (seems to have beaten the doctors in the race) and in four years you shall have a comfortable life; as you receive a fat pay cheque every month. Being a doctor is too long drawn – five years of undergrad followed by another five years of specializations and super-specialization, till you open shop. The irony is – these are the same doctors (if there are any by then) that we shall go to when we age and succumb; in the same hands, our grandchildren shall be born. With no seeds of dedication sown, we expect a bountiful harvest of oath-abiding clinicians? The result of chaos, confusion, and frustration!
In the words of Shakespeare,
….nature must obey necessity, men at some time are masters of their fates, the fault….is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.
Let’s take a step back and think. Deep inside, is this what the parent-conscience desires to teach our children? The answer is a screaming “NO”. But, the saga continues, thanks to the rigid education framework and its evaluation system; we are losing the “humane” touch of human beings!
Turning back to the protagonist of our life-athon, we unknowingly ignore our most prized possession- the child /student; the one actually running the race. Typically, if you ask a student, why do you go to school? Or why do you learn science? The answer that pops out is – because I want to be a doctor or an engineer. And, why do you want to become a doctor or an engineer? The answer is a deafening silence coupled with a perplexed expression. With the lack of self-reliant thinking, we are churning out professionals who CANNOT reason. Scarily, unable to differentiate between good and bad for their own selves, let alone the world around them. And yet, we wonder why our planet is spinning every second towards a point of no return!
Probably, it is high time we break the barriers of compartmentalized education – language, history, geography, science, math, economics, life skills or art, to make it more comprehensive, more enriching. For a better planet, we need people, who can learn from the success and mistakes our forefathers made (history); value every drop of water/every bit of air our planet creates to be the only inhabitable planet in our solar system (geography); to discovering natural sustainable sources of energy compatible to the varied forms of life (science) and account for it (math). None of this is possible, without articulated speech (language). Importantly, it is essential to introspect, respect and connect ones “thoughts”, using the various forms of art and life skills, that one could acquire through experiential learning.
To conclude, “I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”- Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
Which way are we heading?
Dr. Rakhi Roy is a scientist at the Centre for Brain Development and Repair, Institute of Stem cell biology and Regenerative medicine, Bangalore, India where she works on using stem cell-based technologies to develop platforms for understanding neuro-developmental disorders. A Gold medalist in Human Physiology from the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and a Ph.D. from Manipal University, Dr. Pal has more than 10 years of experience in the field of stem cell biology with a particular interest in neurological disorders. She not only has multiple publications and patents to her name but also possesses a unique blend of both industry and academic experiences.
Dr.Rakhi, parent of Ekya, was invited to be our guest writer on the Parents of Ekya feature. Interested parents who would like to write for us can shoot us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org