Editorial: Allow Students to Think

Open doors, don’t spoon-feed

What Sikkim requires its schools to create are sensible citizens who can think for themselves, weigh options and make practical decisions. In these times of fake news and manufactured consent, an open mind willing to learn and analyse will be required to side-step the shackles of time-serving mediocrity. And we would all wish that for the next generation, won’t we? The one place where clear thought can be honed into an instinct is the classroom – allow the education system to adopt genuinely learning-friendly practices and future generations will dazzle with their confidence and carry Sikkim forward. Don’t do so, and a majority will remain hesitant and unsure, seeking out charlatans to form their beliefs, ideologies and pursuits. If education was approached with the aim to open minds, not suppress inquisitiveness, the quality that everyone seeks to infuse into the system will become a reality. What the present system delivers, and this is a national malaise, is infectious indecisiveness. Students are not encouraged to enquire or seek clarifications and every effort is made to drill them into an army of monotony, their uniqueness and differences brushed over by soul-sapping rigour and mind-numbing routine. It is rare to find students with wide-ranging interests any more. In fact, the syllabus and pattern of education do not even allow children the space to develop any meaningful interests any more. Even when these interests are displayed at annual day functions they are mostly hobbies decided for them by the teachers or “talents” singled out by them for display. Student projects for interschool competitions are prepared by teachers and every intonation of a poetry recital for competition dictated to them. We just won’t allow them to make their mistakes and learn from them or stand by their side in case assistance is required; we believe that we are serving them by hand-holding them through their years in school, college, university, and if we have the “contact”, even their employment. More and more teachers are so scared that students will “fail” them that they end up spoon-feeding them. At the other extreme are teachers who see no hope in their students so they don’t get involved at all. In both scenarios, the student meets the same fate – a confidence stamped down even before it could develop. A good way to start delivering Sikkim a more confident generation would be to allow students to discover more things by themselves and in doing so, they will also discover the confidence required to think and decide for themselves later in life.