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Unschooled children are doing much better (BlogSpot)

Our prevailing education system not only fails to address the ‘whole child’, but also fragments knowledge into discrete areas of study, rendering life experiences incomprehensible. No wonder research indicates that in comparison to ‘unschooled’ children, ‘schooled’ children are better equipped to memorize discrete bits of often meaningless information. Although schooled children are at an advantage given their ability to comprehend symbolic information such as graphs and formulae, they are not better in day-to-day problem solving when compared to ‘unschooled children’. ‘That students failed to connect their formal symbol manipulation procedures with “real-world” objects represented by the symbols constitute a dramatic failure of instruction’ (Schoenfeld, 1988, p. 150). ‘People who perform poorly in the test situations show great skill on similar problems in their everyday lives’ (Rogoff, 1984). The fact that ‘school knowledge’ does not connect the child to real life and remains for the most part ‘inert knowledge’ is too well-known to be emphasized further (Brown, et al., 1989). Teacher education is no exception. The traditional approach in teacher education programmes is to teach the philosophical, sociological, psychological and pedagogical aspects of education as distinctly separate areas of study. Further, there is no explicit attempt to illustrate the inter-connectedness of these areas. As a result, most practising and student teachers not only fail to see the relevance of some of these content areas, but are also unable to comprehend the same. Researches conducted in the last two decades (Behari, 1997; Ramanathan, 2004) indicate that most teachers feel that although the B.Ed. course prepares them for specific subject teaching (which is no doubt the goal of secondary and senior secondary teacher education), it does not address those dimensions of their personality that are important to becoming fully functioning teachers, or, for that matter, fully functioning humans. The existing teacher preparation courses are not focused on preparing ‘teachers’, but are designed to prepare ‘subject teachers’. Subject teachers can only produce academic robots. This is part and outcome of the mechanistic scheme of our teacher education programmes. Most participants in both the researches either directly or indirectly pointed to the irrelevance of foundational courses such as philosophy and sociology of education as they perceived their jobs as subject teachers. The real classroom poses different kinds of challenges for which they are ill-prepared. The need to structure teacher education programmes according to holistic themes emerges clearly, both at the research and experiential levels. It might be more useful to structure teacher education programmes according to broader thematic areas that transcend the boundaries of traditional disciplines and focus on learners, learning, pedagogy etc. The other major problem sighted by teachers in the above research was how unprepared they were to meet the challenge of variability that exists in actual classrooms. The teachers’ own ability to connect positively with children from diverse backgrounds and, in turn, enable children to relate effectively with each other is not nurtured in the existing teacher education programmes. And neither is concern for good inter-personal relationships among teachers a significant focal area.
Given the pluralistic social order, marked by aggressive global forces, communal conflicts and vested political interest, it is essential that education produces critical thinkers who can take informed decisions and act with courage and conviction. ‘[…] it is vital to prevent social conflict through an education that fosters understanding and respect for cultural diversity as well as communication and cooperation between persons of different origins’ (Dasen, 1992). Urbanization, industrialization and cross-border conflicts have generated unprecedented human mobility. Teachers are invariably faced with multi-cultural classrooms and have to communicate with children and parents from different cultural origins, and thereby have to deal with complex inter-group dynamics. ‘It is therefore important to train teachers to understand the phenomenon linked to migration, cross cultural communication and social psychology…. Explicit attempt should be made to enable teachers to overcome their own ethnocentrisms by reflecting on their enculturation recognizing their prejudices’ (Dasen, 1992). Such goals cannot be achieved through verbal communication alone. They require an experiential and more participative approach to teacher preparation. Internship or school life experiences should essentially include inter-cultural education and provision for self-development

Misra, Girishwar. Foundations of Indian Psychology, Volume 2: Practical Applications (pages 141-141)