Mr Nilakantha Panigrah, Principal SAI International School has been a leader in administration in the education industry for 16 years, bolstered by 25 years of science teaching experience, particularly in Physics. From his vast experience, Mr. Panigrah shares his insights on what he sees as the essential qualities that education and educators must develop if they are to build competent citizens of the future.
Every progressive society braces itself for the unforeseen tomorrow. That’s how civilisation lives up to the next generation’s challenges. When it comes to education fuelled by erudition, the pitfalls are deeper and wider. Over the last millennia, leading through literary and erudite technological and ideational blossoming, we have witnessed many unprecedented springs of intelligence, that have deflected the gloom and shrouds of failures which could otherwise hurt our motives and missions. Despite resplendent milestones and iridescent flavours of life, it is undeniable that our educational motives and goals have been at crossroads. Individual goals have been juxtaposed against societal and national priorities. Subsequently, paranoia, institutional bonhomie and fallacies from aggressive pursuits have resulted in civilisational collapses: the recent outburst of mass resentment against national interest, public outcry contradicting government and democratic values as witnessed in the most advanced and so-called civilisations are but a tip of the iceberg.
It is indisputable to admit that educational credentials are the pillars of civilisational build-ups. The yesteryears saw several Renaissance in mass consciousness, propelled by the discreet educational makeover alone. But, today, centuries after the industrial revolution, education seems to be at a crossroads again.
If our parameters are appreciably met, we can experience a giant ‘paradigm shift’. A liberal society like the US witnesses gunshots several times a year in school compounds. The pandemic saw blatant defiance of national appeal to use masks in public and there was an evidential surge in domestic violence. If education is not to be questioned, then who or what else?
To bring up the individual as well as cause mass transformations, education must be the frontier weapon. Bringing gadgets and technological edges to classrooms alone won’t suffice, evolution will come through them and classics and legends of human wonder that inspire awe.
We need philanthropists and samaritans along with marvels in technology or novel business ideas to save ourselves from totalitarians. Else, climatic disasters or Ukraine-like catastrophes are bound to mar long-earned human purposes. A fresh lease in education can viably herald a new social and global order. With the information highway at our fingertips, more future learning will certainly happen beyond classrooms, but our centuries-long human endeavour will be at stake if values are not breathed into learning systems inside classrooms. The long eco-dictum “child is the father of man” is not irrelevant yet. Hence, young minds must be shaped to avert the discernible shades of grey in human characters for a healthier tomorrow.
The trust deficit is rampant at all levels today and often propels to spoil social, national and global peace. Teachers as catalysts can alone contribute to classroom revolutions. They need to respect the conventional and initiate metamorphosis beyond textbooks. Probably it’s time for all to value the ages-old wisdom without turning away from gen-next essentials.
Frequent updation of curriculam alone won’t help, but a radical shift in teacher-taught mindset is needed. So as long as learning remains a barter, daemonic character is definite to surface. Hence the ethical and aesthetic aspects of teachers need imminent revival. The young minds of today must dream of a world sans distress and gloom which they alone can herald.