THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 24 June 2020 (Transforming education (The Hindu))

Mains Paper 2: Education
Prelims level:
Mains level: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education

Context:

  • COVID-19 has knocked down economies, stranded people, hit education, work and travel, and cut short people’s lives.
  • If the pandemic has one lesson for humanity, it is that people, places and non-human entities and processes are connected.
  • These connections have long been ignored in most spheres, including economic landscapes, food systems and pedagogies.


Green economy:

  • At this time, there has been a lot of talk about investing in a “green economy” with more renewables, reduced motorised transport or travel, and more working from home.
  • These are all good ideas but they could also be interpreted as mere tinkering at the edges.
  • In another 15-18 months, perhaps with a vaccine in place, the understanding we have gained during the lockdown may be all but forgotten.
  • The green economy, as promising as it could be to tackle climate change, may leave the discourse on development untouched.
  • If we want long-lasting and transformational changes to connect sustainably with the web of life, we have to think about how we educate ourselves.


A different education:

  • We must recognise, at an early age, the interconnectedness of the natural world with our everyday lives, and with the well-being of the planet.
  • To accomplish that, education in history, geography, economics, biology and chemistry, for example, would have to be very different.
  • Instead of presenting each discipline as distinct and separate, we ought to integrate their domains with the natural world.
  • History is set in periods divided by wars and victors, but should include ecological changes to the landscape in a region as part of the lesson.
  • Similarly, geography must describe the land and the forests, how cities develop and what these changes do to the coast and the hinterland, water bodies and the commons.

 

Illustrations and models:

  • There is a renewed interest in using more illustrations and models to enliven learning in the sciences.
  • Biology and chemistry need not begin with the periodic table, reactions and cells, but start by framing the organism and cells as located within a milieu where materials, energy and information are exchanged.
  • Chemistry could begin with cycles such as the nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, and water cycles, which link together the biosphere, rocks and minerals.
  • This type of teaching and learning will not do away with previously taught knowledge.
  • It introduces a holism where there is reductionism, and the foundation would be the linkages across human and non-human entities.

 

Small beginnings:

  • Such new learning would set the grounds for understanding climate change from rising anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
  • There has been a small movement to include the anthropogenic changes we have wrought on the earth into fields of inquiry such as literature, culture studies and history.
  • Still, this inclusive thinking is not mainstream. A significant level of unlearning will have to be done along with new learning.
  • Curriculum developers will have to restructure and rebuild materials used to impart knowledge.

 

Gaia hypothesis:

  • The Gaia hypothesis put forth by James Lovelock is an ecological theory proposing that living creatures and the physical world are in a complex interacting system that maintains equilibrium.
  • One might imagine the COVID-19 crisis as Gaia giving us a warning, showing how flimsy human life and the structures we rely upon are.

 

Conclusion:

  • Unchecked rapaciousness has been unleashed by policies that support “growth at any cost”.
  • It will ultimately fail since all goods used in any economy arise from the natural world.
  • Our educational system needs to lay down the bricks for this understanding.

 

 

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, consider the following statements:
1. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is being observed on June 15, 2020 with the theme "Safeguard older persons during COVID-19 and beyond”.
2. It was officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) During post COIVID period what are the measures needed to transform the education system in India?


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