The proposed innovations will be related chiefly to the quality of education. It has been increasingly acknowledged that our education system is deficient in many ways, but the deficiency in respect to quality is perhaps most deplorable and in need of urgent but careful repair. If we examine innovations which are being advocated in regard to the quality of education, they can be grouped in three categories:
1. Those related to aims of education;
2. Those related to contents of education;
3. Those related to pedagogy and methodology of education.
We may formulate a list of these innovations and make relevant remarks.
1. Innovations related to aims of education
What should be the aim of education has been a perennial theme of debate in the field of philosophy of education. In the prevalent climate, liberal education has come to be largely accepted, and, accordingly, promotion of scientific knowledge, scientific epistemology and rationality is being advocated; promotion of freedom of each individual is also regarded as an indispensable element of liberal education; finally, liberal education aims at the promotion of the study of man and his harmonious relationship with the society and the universe at large.
There has been, however, increasing demand for education that aims at development of skills, and this aim often demands neglect of the aims of liberal education. It is argued that the contemporary society requires job-oriented skills, and that job-oriented education and vocational education needs to be developed on a very large scale. It is even argued that the present system of education turns out unemployable youths and thus even when employment opportunities are augmented, even graduates are found to be incapable of finding proper avenues of employment. Hence, one of the important problems is to conceive and develop among young people varieties of skills, and innovations are demanded for designing education that will emphasize and facilitate varieties of skills that are relevant to the society which is increasingly dominated by machines, gadgets, techniques, and technologies.
Closely connected with demand for skill-oriented education, it is argued that in a country like India where 65% of population is occupied in agriculture, promotion of the study and skills related to agriculture should be made a permanent part of the general education system. Along with agriculture, crafts are also emphasized. It is even argued that while liberal education aims at promoting the faculties of the head, a more balanced system of education should also be developed so as to stimulate and foster the faculties related to hand and heart. It is also pointed out that even pedagogically, education that can combine the development of faculties of the head, hand and heart will be more conducive to dynamism and involvement of the total personality of an individual and the education system.
In continuation with the advocacy for the skill-oriented education, there is a growing demand to develop education
that aims at professional excellence at a very high level. Demand for professional education is growing everywhere, and not only education that can produce able lawyers, doctors and engineers, but also professional education that can train scientists, philosophers, scholars, writers, journalists and accountants and other professional experts is being advocated more and more insistently.
How to develop a system of education that can accommodate the legitimate demand of liberal education, vocational education and professional education has not been adequately addressed. At the same time, certain higher aims of education are being pressed, and the result is that educationists find it very difficult to come up with the needed solutions.
There are four higher aims of education which have been conceived and formulated in various forms and contexts. These higher aims are related to the promotion of
(a) Nationalism, internationalism, peace, international understanding, universality and the ideal of universal fraternity in conjunction with the ideal of liberty and ideal of equality;
(b) Character development*and man-making education in conjunction with integral development of personality, and a special emphasis on value-oriented education that can develop and foster values involved in physical education, vital and emotional education, rational education, aesthetic education, ethical education and spiritual education;
(c) Learning to learn or learning to know, learning to do, learning to co-operate, and learning to be; and
(d) Exploration of the highest aim of life, exploration ol human potentialities and exploration of the future in the context of the need of human survival and human or superhuman fulfillment.
If these higher aims of education were not felt to be imperative and urgent, innovations relevant to the aims of education could have been relatively less difficult, but these higher aims of education have come to be advocated as inevitable needs of education of today and tomorrow by expert bodies like UNESCO and by the greatest educationists who have, during the last two centuries, made pioneering experiments and who have striven to break the rigidity that imprisons the processes of the flowering of the soul of man, soul of nations and spirit of the freedom and unity of human kind. It has been argued that if these higher aims of education are not pursued, our educational systems will fail to respond to the central issues of the contemporary crisis through which humanity is passing today. It is contended that human civilization has reached such a critical point of development that unless higher aims of education are properly conceived and practiced, humanity will become so mechanized and dehumanized that machines and robots will rule the world and they will dethrone all that is valuable to human civilization, human happiness, and in the very raison d'etre of human existence.
Against this background, the tasks of the education innovators will be found to be extremely difficult, but they will be seen to be more and more pressing and even inescapable.
2. Innovations related to contents of education
Aims of education determine the contents and methods of
education. Depending on the way in which innovators will evolve a satisfactory solution to the conflicts among various aims of education, we shall be in a position to develop corresponding curricula relating to various subjects and inter-disciplinary studies. Nonetheless, various reflections on the contents of education are currently debated amongst educationists, and they can be formulated and possibly presented as follows:
It has been contended that learning to learn and learning to know are basic to education, and that at minimum level, the basic curriculum should aim at securing good foundation in three R's, — reading, writing and arithmetic. This contention is almost universally conceded. But on account of explosion of information and exponential growth of knowledge, basic curriculum relating to three R's is continuously being expanded. As a result, load of books is getting increasingly heavier, and there is legitimate criticism that children's minds are being stuffed with heavy loads of information, which children are not able bear, grasp or digest, and that education tends to cater only to the needs of the development of the head at the cost of the needs of the development of the hand and the heart. It is also rightly complained that education* instead of being a joyous process of learning, has tented to become mechanical, abstract, uninteresting and even boring. It has been argued that among the reasons for a high rate of dropouts, this unbearable load of curriculum is perhaps the chief one. It has been estimated that out of 100 students admitted in class I, only seven are able to reach class X and XII. This implies a great wastage both in terms of economy and in terms of human resource development. As a result, innovations in the curriculum of primary education have become inevitable.
There is no doubt that the first aim in regard to learning of languages should be to prepare a sound basis for the mother tongue. At the same time, we have to recognize that the contemporary world is becoming global, and English has acquired the status of international language. Hence, a sound basis for English also needs to be laid during the first 4-5 years of primary education. It is unfortunate that during the last several decades, Sanskrit has been downgraded, but its high status as a pan-Indian language and also as a language in which highest treasures of Indian systems of knowledge have been stored. The three greatest poets of India — Valmiki, Vyasa and Kalidasa have written in Sanskrit, and just like no educated Englishman can be unread on the works of Shakespeare, no Indian should be unable to read the works of these great poets. In addition, provisions should be made to learn a fourth language, and that could be Hindi. A study of a language like French is bound to be beneficial from many points of view. It may be argued that innovations in proposed direction will mean a heavy load on students. But experiments have shown that during early years when the linguistic lobe of the brain is open and can absorb skills in various languages, the load can be minimized, and if appropriate methodology is developed and sound pedagogy for simultaneous learning of languages is applied, the coming generations will stand to gain, and faculties of understanding, imagination and subtleties of intellectual grasp and complexities in storing vast vocabulary will receive due nourishment and they will flower, and when matured will contribute to the intellectual robustness of the genius of India. This is an area, which causes acute controversies, but it needs to be studied with due impartiality, and without attempting to impose unwanted languages. Facility should be made available to
students to learn three or four languages in the very first years of learning, and they will provide an effective basis of learning to learn and learning to know.
After the first five years of grounding in three or four languages, an option should be given for students to choose between a course in languages at 'O' level and a course at languages at 'A' level. As far as 'O' level is concerned, the programme for next three years should ensure a first terminal level achievement, so that if a student (who will be by that time 14 years of age and who will have fulfilled the constitutional obligation under which every child in our country is required to be given compulsorily minimum level of education free of charge) wishes to leave the school, he/ she, by virtue of his/her linguistic competence, can find a welcome entry into suitable field of work, and again, by virtue of that linguistic competence can, if he/she so chooses, continue study on his/her own during leisure hours at home or in any other system of open school education. The 'O' level proficiency should not be measured in terms of grammatical competence or competence in literary expression or competence that comes through study of literature. In other words, a distinction should be made between a course in language and a course in literature. In the course devoted to 'O' level, linguistic competence should be the measuring yard, and it may include correct spelling, correct expressions of simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences which have only one subordinate clause. In addition, the student should have capacity to take dictation and be capable of ordinary use of the computer so that, in due course of time, he/she may be able to use the computer at least for one language, and use it for taking dictation and writing on the computer.
For 'A' level, the programme of studies can extend up to the end of class XII, and the proficiency expected in at least two languages should be of such a high level that he/she should be able to use the languages competently like reading, writing, and conversing, enjoying the beauty of the language and of understanding and utilizing subtleties and complexities of the language.^
A short course in literature may form a part of this programme. At the same time, a ski 11-oriented course in at least two languages should form a component part of this course, and this should include the competence of reporting, of summarizing, of commenting and of stenographic assistance as also related computer operation of a higher order.
A student may also have an option to branch off in a specialized course in two or three languages at the level of class IX, and the specialized course, when completed at class XII, should enable the student to pursue at the level of higher education a specialized course in relevant literature or specialized courses in subjects like philosophy, where the demands for linguistic competence are very high.
Provision should also be made for students to pursue bridge courses so that it may not be difficult for the student to shift from a course of 'O' level to a course of 'A' level or from 'O' level to specialized level or from 'A' level to specialized level. This would provide a good deal of flexibility.
Normally, a student in class X should have linguistic abilities in three or four languages at 'O' level and linguistic ability in one language at 'A' level or linguistic ability in three languages, one 'O' level, one 'A' level and one
The essence of specialized level in the linguistic competence is sure guarantee for enhancing competence in thinking with clarity, precision and with a wide range of scope. It is also assumed that competence in multiplicity of languages ensures increase in inter-cultural or inter-civilization dialogue, robustness of life, creativity and mobility, and when this is coupled with capacities for inter-linguistic translations; opportunities of options in the field of work also multiply.
Care should be taken that those students who are able to opt for 'O' level competence in languages up to class VIII should be burdened only with two other subjects, viz., a course in mental calculations and a course in a subject connected with a core programme. These students may, however, be encouraged to take part in any other programme of studies, which may be available in the school, but none of them should be compulsory. Preferably, these students should be counseled to take up one skill-oriented programme, including home science, masonry, carpentry or repair of ordinary gadgets and machines or vehicles.
As indicated above, there* should be available for all students a course in mental calculation at 'O' level for the First five years of studies. Here, the emphasis should be laid on learning and mastering four operations of arithmetic and also of learning and mastering operations concerned with fractions and concerning measurements of various kinds which one meets in ordinary life. These measurements may also include those which are relevant to physics, chemistry, geography and astronomy. A further 'O' level course in
mental calculation may be combined with an elementary course in mathematics. This will again acquaint the student with the relationship between arithmetic, algebra and geometry, and simple operations of factorization and a few theorems in geometry. But much more importance is to be given to the development of practical skills that are required in the field of accounts, so that by the end of class VIII, the student may be able to prepare a bill with the right totals and can calculate economic factors such as rate, interest, wages and profit or loss. The students should also be able to maintain accounts books and also ledgers. Mechanical use of calculators should also be mastered by the end of class VIII.
The assumption in proposing the above is that a good number of students who opt out of the school at the end of the class VIII (around the age of 14) can do useful works connected with calculations and thus manage the calculations connected with the economy of any small unit of commerce or small industry. The proposed abilities will ensure that the concerned students can find useful work in the society. Additionally, if he/she has higher capacities of mathematics, the same can be pursued in leisure hours and/ or through the open school system.
Students who are found to be good in understanding subtleties and complexities of mathematics at an early stage may be recommended to opt for a course in mathematics at 'A' level, but the 'A' level course should not neglect all that is proposed in 'O' level. Those students who would like to pursue physics, chemistry, all other sciences, economics, and other similar subjects should be advised to offer mathematics in class XI and XII. Specialized course in
mathematics would of course be indispensable for specializing in mathematics, statistics and similar subjects at the level of higher education.
Languages and mental calculations as suggested above should normally be pursued by all students. But this is not enough. Higher aims of education should be pursued right from early stages. These aims, including character development, man-making education, integral development of personality, care of the body and development of capacities of human body, qualities that foster pursuits of knowledge and wisdom, courage and heroism, harmony and universality as also refinement that gives entry to aesthetic joy and creativity, strain towards idealism, ethics and spirituality, value oriented education and sharpness of faculties that is contributed by exercises in scientific observation, exploration, discovery, invention and rigors of philosophical thought, and practices that are related to learning to know, learning to do, learning to co-operate, learning to be, — these and many more concerns such as those of nationalism, internationalism, human rights, fundamental duties and education for international understanding and peace should receive attention right from the commencement of processes of education. A well balanced programme needs to be chalked out in due course with regard to several subjects of study which can, optionally, be pursued at 'O' level. A special provision will be made for skill-oriented education, - preferably based on the needs for training in Agriculture, Horticulture, Cottage crafts, etc.
What is suggested above is the minimum as far as innovations in contents of education are concerned.
3. Innovations related to methods of education
The most important innovation in regard to methodology of education is related to stimulations and facilities that need to be provided to infuse in every student enthusiasm to learn, to study and to arrive at the capacity to master one's limitations and exceed levels of excellence for attaining higher levels of excellence. *
In this connection, every school should create atmosphere of neatness and beauty as also programmes of exhibitions, demonstrations, dramas, slide-shows, film-shows and stimulating lectures through which the highest values are expounded and nourished. In addition, provision should be made whereby individualized learning is promoted. To use the Indian terminology, we may say that each one of us has his or her own swabhava and swadharma, and a learning-process that answers to the rhythm of swabhava and swadharma can properly be called the process of individualized learning. As soon as a student is able to read and write, facility should be provided to him/her to do individual work, which can be pursued in several different ways:
(a) By quiet reflection and meditation;
(b) By referring to books or relevant portions of books suggested by the teacher;
(c) By working on "work-sheets";
(d) By consultations or interviews with teachers;
(e) By carrying out experiments;
(f) By working out sums or problems or working out exercises which will provide mastery over a subject;
(g) By writing compositions;
(h) By drawing, designing, painting etc.; and
(i) By any other work such as decoration, cooking, carpentry, stitching, embroidery, etc.
There should be available in every school, the following facilities:
(a) A room of silence to which students who would like to do uninterrupted work or reflect or meditate in silence can go when they like;
(b) Rooms of consultation, where students can meet their teachers and consult with them on various points of their seeking;
(c) Rooms of collaboration, where students can work in collaboration with each other on projects, etc.;
(d) Rooms of exhibitions, demonstrations, explorations, discoveries and inventions;
(e) Hobby rooms, where students can work freely on various hobbies, such as aero-modeling, carpentry, fretwork, etc.;
(f) Rooms for dancing, music, painting, dramatics, and subjects connected with programme of home-science;
(g) Fields for agriculture, horticulture and some basic crafts like spinning and weaving, pottery, tailoring, etc.;
(h) Lecture rooms where teachers can hold discussions with their students and where they can deliver lectures — short or long, according to the need;
(i) Store rooms where material for exhibitions, hobbies can be kept carefully and systematically.
Individualized learning needs to be carefully blended with class work, project work and even with those activities where hundreds of students can participate together such as listening to special lectures, extension lectures, programmes of demonstrations and programmes of watching dramas, films, etc.
Innovations are needed whereby the methodology of lecturing can be combined with power-point projections and where maps, drawings, pictures and stimulating material can be presented. Innovations are also needed in regard to the framing of curricula for specific topics of interest or alternative curricula to be explored by students. Innovations are also needed in regard to tests and evaluations, so that tests are of varied nature, and for each student, tests must come in such a way that they are helpful for his or her growth. Innovative methods of testing progress in value-education also need to be designed.
Methodologies have also to be developed whereby processes of cultivation of faculties by stimulation of inherent urge to grow, unhampered by external pressures can be supplemented by programmes of training which aim at providing rapid courses. These programmes may require time-bound lessons involving strict discipline, regularity, close supervision and pursuit of vigorous and persistent exercises. For this purpose, schools should provide laboratories for each branch of knowledge and they might be organized in the following way:
(i) Information will be available here about:
(a) What the subject in question means, and why it should be studied;
(b) A few alternative syllabi for the subject;
(c) An analysis of the various steps involved in learning the subject systematically and thoroughly;
(d) An idea of the different ways of preparing for these steps.
(ii) there will also be available here:
(a) Selected standard and reference books related to the subject;
(b) Interesting and stimulating booklets or story books and other relevant documentation pertaining to the various topics of the subject;
(c) Programmed books pertaining to the subject; these books often need to be supplemented by what may called "Work Sheets", i.e. educational material so prepared that it can be studied only by the active participation and exercise of the student's intelligent reflection and application. These work sheets should be of various types to permit alternative approaches;
(d) A series of graded exercises which the students can handle on their own with the least help from the teacher; (there should be a facility for self-correction);
(e) Various kinds of test papers, including what may be called 'final test papers'; (these final test papers are those which the students under training may be required to answer in order to judge for themselves if they have achieved the necessary mastery).
(iii) The following activities will be encouraged:
(a) Determination to work hard, work regularly, and to develop the habits of punctuality and discipline;
(b) To fix up a short or long programme of work, and to stick to it rigorously (laxity in this may disqualify a student from the joining of the given programme of the laboratory work);
(c) To arrange, from time to time, a short programme of lectures and seminars where a number of difficult problems will be discussed and dealt with rapidly and effectively;
(d) To give written reports of the work done;
(e) To pass certain tests (written, oral or practical);
(f) Any other activities to achieve clarity, precision, efficiency, mastery.
Finally, innovations will be required with regard to education for values and for integral development of personality. There is also a need to develop new methods of teaching and learning each subject of study, and programmes of innovations should encourage the development of new methods of teaching and learning languages, mathematics, astronomy, history, geography and various sciences, technologies and various programmes of skill development.