Raghav Podar stressed on the role of healthy learning environments that equips children to face new challenges

Einstein said: ‘Education is what remains when you have forgotten all that you had learned in school’.

“One realizes the significance of the statement while tackling challenges, years after one has graduated from college. What reservoirs do we draw from when we are faced with challenges in life? What we learned by rote will never come in handy. Life skills should, therefore, be the focus of education,” said Raghav Podar, Chairman, Podar World School, during a talk at EDEX-2017, a congregation of Education-technology professionals in Bangalore.

To impart life skills to children, he said, “healthy learning environments are crucial. A school environment can either be a classroom, garden or a staircase. What matters is how it nourishes kids mentally and emotionally.” For this, teachers must stop delivering lessons and become facilitators of learning. “It is like a sage and a guide, while the former instructs or advises, the latter nurtures the child. In that kind of a relaxed atmosphere, children won’t be pressurized by exams,” he explained.

But there has been a popular notion that children might lose track of learning in the absence of fear or control. “In fact, it is the other way round. Children’s enthusiasm to learn new things soars in healthy environments. When curiosity is the best state for a child to engage in learning about new things, what else can better create such a mood other than supportive spaces?” asked Podar, who conducts regular experiments in his schools to come up with effective ways of teaching.

How we perceive failure must also change. “We still haven’t learned enough from the lives of people like Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, who, despite facing rejection in an interview for a chef’s job at KFC, could become one of the successful entrepreneurs in the world.” He urged, “failure has to be seen as a good omen as one can learn far better things from failure than from success.”

In order to address the issue of apprehension towards failure and over-obsession with marks, he suggested, “people with whom educationists need to work are parents. They need to be aware of the fact that unlike the industrial era of the 18th century, what the job market now needs are not implementers of what already exists but innovators who can apply earned knowledge to a specific problem at hand.”

“Unfortunately, we are churning out graduates who are not equipped to deliver what the industry demands. This explains why corporates have separate departments to train graduates they hire every year. Instead, why not imbibe in children interpersonal, management, leadership, and decision-making skills, etc. from the stage of the school itself?” asked Podar.