[Squeakland] the non universals

subbukk subbukk at gmail.com
Fri Aug 17 10:04:26 PDT 2007

On Thursday 16 August 2007 4:55 am, Kim Rose wrote:
> I think it's a common finding (at least in the U.S.) that schools are
> trying to prepare students "for the workplace" and thus today's
> education is largely vocational.  Therefore, the belief holds that
> teaching word processing will ultimately be more valuable to students
> than calculus.  My experience is that parents' attitudes perpetuate
> this phenomenon.  Another reason may be that more teachers understand
> word processing and are more comfortable *teaching*  "MS Office" than
> calculus.
The issue is not very different in Bangalore and its suburbs. Here, a parent 
faces a difficult choice between vocational education and valuable education.

A school is a rather broad unit. A lot depends on how a teacher handles a 
class. The teachers I have met so far fall into two broad kinds - factory 
teachers and thinking teachers. The factory teachers adopt mass production 
methods and processes - standard curriculum, drills, exams, grades, 
certificates. The learning levels of students matters only to the extent it 
crosses a predefined minimum level that qualifies him/her for a job. Thinking 
teachers setup a learning environment and guide children into a learning 
mode. The process of learning is more important than the outcomes achieved. 
The environment is more or less homely.

Unfortunately, the latter type cannot scale into handling large number of 
students. Schools that face a huge student demand (40+ per teacher!)  hire 
the former types and run like a factory :-(. In fine arts like dance and 
music where the demand is much less (<20 per teacher), I see more of the 
latter. They run a gurukul-type school to impart holistic education. Such 
schools are far too few to make any significant impact. They handle less than 
1% of the demand for general education :-(.

Is there an education model that works holistically but also scales well into 
millions of students?

Regards .. Subbu

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