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“Education In 50 Years: A Futurist’s
Any response to the above topic is bound to allude to futuristic classro...
learning the equivalent concept in the first place? It’s understandable when one or two students
don’t ask this simple que...
stubbornly, than before, and hence instead of abolishing these institutions we will only bring them
back on to the mainstr...
international, and genuinely democratic. Such an environment might be the best or maybe the only
possible way to eradicate...
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Education in 50 Years: A Futurist’s Perspective

Bid4papers Essay Contest, Pratick Roy: "Education in 50 Years: A Futurist’s Perspective"

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Education in 50 Years: A Futurist’s Perspective

  1. 1. “Education In 50 Years: A Futurist’s Perspective” Any response to the above topic is bound to allude to futuristic classrooms, use of google glasses, stimulated learning environments, etc. However, according to me, the advancements in technology and phycology will not come to describe the classroom of tomorrow themselves, but rather be the reason for the changes that we shall see in the decades to come. Victor Hugo, had once said, “Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.” Indeed it’s one of the most powerful of forces, and when in flow, it’s no less potent than any fury of nature. This simple harmless looking one syllable word is going to be the sanctum sanctorum of the education system of tomorrow. Standing in 2015, we focus on learning facts and techniques, but even today, in the age of the World Wide Web, such information is but a few clicks away. If we don’t know who the first man to walk on the moon was, then all we need to do is to whip out our smartphones and make a quick google search. Fifty years down the line, we may not even need to whip out our smartphones! Ideas on the other hand, are of a different breed. Before, going to its applications, let us first try to understand this mythical creature. An idea in its simplest form is the resultant of an experience, be it theoretical or practical, objective or subjective. It’s the conclusion that we garner, from either an unadulterated Ulysses (Einstein’s theory of special relativity), or form observing some events or daily happenings (Marxism). Thus, it’s the final conclusion that we draw when presented with any new information. Today in our curriculum, this section of the conclusion is always skipped. This fact can be easily brought to the fore, by conducting a simple test. Let us go to every odd chemistry student, and ask a simple question, a question that was asked by our teacher during our chemistry practical viva-voce, “Why did the equivalent concept come into chemistry? Now, every one of us in the class was adept at doing the sums based on the concept. We knew what it was and how to apply it, and yet for the life of ours, we couldn’t answer it. The simple question had a simple answer, but the answer is not important here, what is important is that we never even questioned why we are
  2. 2. learning the equivalent concept in the first place? It’s understandable when one or two students don’t ask this simple question, but when we all shy away, a question arises. The answer to this question is important as well as obvious. We were never taught to question. In the Classrooms of the future however, when reading literature, students will not only be expected to read and learn the interpretations given to them, by their teachers and guide books, but also to interpret themselves. Students will be encouraged to read the quintessential fairy tale, and question. Are dragon’s evil? Princes’ noble? And women, always the weaker vessel? Question whether it’s so because that is what they are or that’s what society expects them to be. When studying the records of the past; History, students will no longer just read it, learn by rote the dates (which is forgotten, the second after the exams) and… well that’s it, but rather analyze the episodes of history, say the Roman Massacre at Teutoburg, and ask the questions, What led to this? How could it have been avoided? And the like. By this approach, the students would be able to apply the answers gained, in the similar situations that await humanity in the future. By peering into the past, and analyzing how events had unfolded, the students of tomorrow can predict the future. Let’s take the above example of the Teutoburg massacre, where three of Rome’s finest legions were ambushed and desecrated by the German chieftain, Arminius. The reason for this massacre was because of the Roman Governor of the region, Publius Quinctilius Varus (On a side note, when writing, I had forgotten the name and so I Googled it). He wanted to Romanize the population and began replacing Germanic customs with Roman ones. This resulted in grave discontentment among the people, directly leading to the massacre. However history also shows that as long as the people were unaware that their identity, noble or otherwise, was being altered, they, slowly but surely, migrated towards the more evolved roman culture. Now let us consider a remote Indian village where Casteism and Male Chauvinism is still all the rage. (Such villages number in the thousands). If radical measures are to be implemented to bring these villages into the 21st century, then the result can be predicted. Sure, there will be no blood bath, but the effect will be the same. The people will regard these “foreign” measures not as an attack on these outdated institutions, but against themselves. They will hold on to them more
  3. 3. stubbornly, than before, and hence instead of abolishing these institutions we will only bring them back on to the mainstream agenda. In other matters it can have far greater consequences. For example, organizations like the ISIS have successlly instigated into the minds of many an impressionable Muslim youths, that the war on terror is actually a war on Islam. Once the question of self-preservation comes up, Idiosyncrasies will assert themselves much more vigorously than reason. Thus young Muslims from around the globe have joined in the efforts, thinking that they are fighting for Islam. Thus in tomorrow’s classrooms, ideas will get the center stage. Ideas however, can never be found from a single google search. They are difficult to learn, but they are impossible to forget, and what’s more is that they are much more than just theoretical knowledge. Being the conclusions, or in other words the selective bundle of information that is relevant, they can be applied whenever the bearer of the idea needs it, directly or in an appropriately modified manner. Thus just as in the past, when the advent of pocket calculators rendered the knowledge of shortcut mathematical techniques unnecessary, the advent of search, and the proliferation of devices to conduct it on, will cause factual knowledge to become less valuable. Thus, indirectly technology will force a seismic-shift in education. Though, its indirect effect is much greater as it will impact the very basis of education, directly technology, in the years to come, might render classrooms obsolete. Already, Sites such as Udacity and Khan Academy as well as the educational channels of YouTube and other video hosting sites, have proven themselves to be valued well of learning. Since the classes can be taken anytime, and also any number of times, and from any place, time and space are no longer barriers to learning. With the advancement of simulation technology, we might be able to simulate our presence in a virtual classroom, completing the final step in any successful lecture; feedback. Students from all over the world can connect into this classroom. Thus the classrooms of tomorrow will not be restricted to any region or any community. Furthermore, if the explosion of digital electronics enunciates any omen, the cost of technology unlike that of the current skyrocketing price of higher education, decreases over time, allowing students, from all strands of society, rich and poor, to learn together. Thus, the classrooms of the future will be truly
  4. 4. international, and genuinely democratic. Such an environment might be the best or maybe the only possible way to eradicate prejudices; societal, racial, religious etc. Education in such an environment would go beyond the curriculum. Students will not only become literate, but also educated. Being a virtual environment, Teachers would be able to give students a practical, audio-visual experience like never before. No longer, will teachers have to be limited to white boards, and at the better funded institutions, projectors. From walking on the moon, in astronomy classes, to following a charge as it flows through an IC, for the teacher of the future, even the sky is not the limit; Literally. Now, it’s true that my vision of the future of education has been overly optimistic. There lies little doubt that lumbering bureaucratic politics and commercial self-interest will produce substantial retardation. And while, a futurist makes predictions based on current trends, he is, or at least I am, by virtue (or vice) of being human, an Idealist. I have little doubt that the above stated system awaits us in the future, but must admit that due to the practical forces of friction, fifty years might prove to be too small a time-frame. But then again, our future leaders who will have been brought up, in the times and climes of ideas, will know too much change too quickly, is not the best course of action. And so in conclusion, there lies little doubt that in the field of education at least, irrespective of the rate of progress, “The Golden age is not behind us, but beyond us”