While staring at my personal computer trying to think about a subject, it struck me that computer itself is a great subject; as, in its evolution is a learning that we can well use for improving our education system.
The computer that we use today is a combination of processing hardware and various soft-wares stored in our personal machine, but the same combination is also possible by having a central processor with soft-wares that user can access remotely.
With Intel and Microsoft dominating computing scene, for obvious commercial reasons, technology was directed towards developing standalone PC armed with own processor and soft-wares, instead of centralization. While Intel-Microsoft combination brought computing to our desktops, the direction they chose also resulted in incredible amount of wasteful duplication.
Today, all of us are sitting with our own separate processors that we hardly require (I don’t need an i5 for writing this article) and copies of soft-wares that mostly sit idle wasting hard disk space.
If centralization was chosen, we all could have tapped into a remote processor located somewhere far away on need bases and could have accessed soft-wares only as per our requirements. It would have been a simple and efficient world without duplication, piracy or bugs. Upgrades and changes in both, processor and soft-wares, would have been easy and global.
Thankfully, with internet now gaining ground, the concept of centralization is re-emerging. Computers are evolving to respond to and gain from increasing connected-ness; but, are we humans learning a lesson from this process?
If we wake up to the reality of inter-connected world, we humans are just like PCs connected by a network. The potential of reducing duplication is enormous but completely unexplored.
It is extremely strange that we are not responding to the increasing inter-connected-ness, especially in how we educate humans. Our education is exactly like each of us individually loading useless data and soft-wares that could well be part of a central pool. India has taken this to an absurd level by considering ability to retain data in individual brain the only merit-defining benchmark.
While it gets easier and easier to access data through internet, for reasons similar to those that drove Microsoft-Intel to opt for standalone computers, commercial stake-holders are driving our educational system in completely opposite direction.
Just when artificial intelligence (AI) is developing rapidly, instead of outsourcing what machines can do best to machines; our educational system is turning human brains into machines. It is a move that has potential to bring economic ruins to India, as the skill-set our educational system provides today to young Indians will turn worthless when AI moves in. The days are not far when whatever little outsourcing that comes India’s way will be lost to AI.
The most urgent need for India is to put in place an educational system that makes students capable of exploiting the rapidly increasing inter-connectivity and diminishing information gap. Human brains in the age of internet require creative skills for using information, as having information is rapidly losing edge.
The most fundamental change we require is to put an end to the competitive exam format that can be cracked using rote-based learning. This will automatically uproot the cancer of coaching institutes and nurture an ecosystem that encourages creativity.
The second much-needed change must be in terms of drastic reduction in curriculum at every level. Large curriculum discourages understanding and leads to rote, a situation that is exploited fully by coaching institutes.
India needs to stop turning human brains into machines, as we will never be able to beat machines in their own game. Reformed educational system is a game-changer crucial for our survival.