HIGHER EDUCATION

Published on October 20th, 2007 | by drkkr

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TEACHING FOR JOB FITMENT

[Teaching_Lighthouse.jpg]IT IS common knowledge that traditional classroom teaching is information-oriented and based on directions given to individual students. The lecture method of teaching encapsulates information and directions along with illustrations. It is a rare form of communication which is unidirectional and which flows from the teacher to the students. Lectures have several inherent shortcomings. First, it creates an environment where a teacher discourages questions from students, because he considers questions to be impediments to the flow of information. Consequently, the student has to postpone his questions until the end of the lecture. This naturally raises obstacles in his comprehension of the information or directions the lecturer is giving. Defects The defects of this system can be seen, if we examine the 21st century work environment. In the context of employment, employees have to search for and ask for information. They usually use their peers and supervisors as resource personnel. The lecture system, which prepared students for the examinations, rarely provides them with the information that will help them to identify human and other sources of data after they have left the portals of the institution. In the classroom environment, the teacher directs and the student follows implicitly without getting the opportunity to experiment with the problem solving and originating methods and projects connected with his or her work. The existing scenario in classroom teaching is based on the individual student’s ability to follow the instructions that are given and the procedure that is outlined. On the other hand, in the actual context of the work environment, projects are very often self-initiated and employees in groups work at solving problems. Modern technique The modern work environment places much importance on group discussions, collective responsibility, collective bargaining, technical discussions, seminars, workshops, role-playing, simulation games, on-the-job training, vestibule training and case analysis. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth introduced the concept of `Time-Motion-Study’ at the beginning of the 20th century. Later, the influence of workers’ unions and professional management techniques introduced the concept of fixing time schedules for work after consultation among workers’ representatives, professional managers, Governments and owners. This aspect of the real work environment never enters a classroom, where the teacher is the ultimate authority in fixing time limits for submission of assignments and projects to fit into the university’s programme of semesters and examinations. The student has absolutely no say in fixing time schedules for his academic work. Assessment Assessment is another area where the work environment differs greatly from the classroom environment. Employee assessment in the context of modern jobs takes into consideration the evaluations of the supervisor, the employee’s productivity, interest and team work. In short, it is a qualitative assessment, while classroom assessments based on marks, percentages and grades are quantitative assessments. The gap between the existing system of classroom teaching and the work environment into which the students coming out of these classes have to fit becomes wider because of the following differences between the two environments. Classroom teaching goads the students on to individual achievements and targets. Colleges and institutions on their part look forward to cent per cent results as this will bring a rush of students to their doors in subsequent years. Neither the parents nor colleagues spare a thought for the requirements corresponding to different types of work; nor to they bother to provide the students with information about the different kinds of employment that their degrees will lead them to. In colleges, a feeble attempt is made to provide placements for the students. (There are a few exceptions). When India was in the early stages of Independence, the dearth of Indians for various jobs connected with building the infrastructure of the nation made these placements unnecessary and graduates, post graduates and diploma holders were snapped up as soon as they came out of institutions. This is no longer possible in the current, modern employment scene where specialisation and multi-disciplinary approaches are necessary. It is interesting to note that Indians have been loners in almost every aspect of human activity. The need of the hour is an integrated approach to education. This will be obvious from the fact that at many interviews, the interviewer asks the candidate whether he or she prefers hard work to smart work. Education systems have to keep up with the growth of specialisation which is proportionate to the growth of the total quantum of knowledge available to people. These then are the challenges that Indian education has to meet to mould the students of the future. (THIS ARTICLE OF MINE APPEARED IN THE HINDU)

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