Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to change our education system: From Scarcity Mentality to Abundance Mentality

When asked what he thought was wrong with the education system, Ravi Gulati answered with a story. "It is well known that Gandhi ji, was always smiling, cheerful, always full of hope. When pushed one day to say one thing, just one thing that depressed him Gandhi said - the heartlessness of the educated." This year (Jan 15,16 2009 at Stanford) the annual King Holiday celebration theme was Education for Global Liberation. Among other events, there was a panel discussion with three educators/activists from India. These educators have developed educational curricula different from traditional models in that social awareness and justice is built into the classroom experience starting grade 1. From Riverside School in Ahemdabad, for children from relatively affluent backgrounds, to Manzil for urban lower middle class children to Manav Sadhana for the poorest of kids, each school is a product of inspired leadership. Ravi Gulati says his MBA education, with its focus on increasing consumption to increase market, as having been the catalyst in seeking alternative economic models which led to an examination of the education system. What happened to the values he learned as a child in an average middle class family, where frugality was the ethic of choice? Encouraging consumption as a market driver, leads to a scarcity mentality where no matter how much you have , you never feel you have enough, he says. He wants to create an education system based on an "abundance mentality". Viren Joshi spoke about a child from his slum school who returned a large sum of cash he found in the street simply because "it was not his" a natural behavior of the values learned in school.
So how does one instill ethics and social justice into young minds? How does one get away from the "don't know = don't care" syndrome? I got some answers from these educators who talk about the values they instill "To whom much is given much is expected"; They ask their students to ask themselves "what am I doing to "preserve" my rights?" "What am I doing to "deserve" my rights". Speakers’ Bios are:
Kiran Sethi is the Founder/Director of Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India, which focuses on social justice curriculum and experiential learning. She was elected a 2008 fellow by Ashoka, the world’s leading authority on social entrepreneurship for her innovative “aProCh – A Protagonist in every Child.” (http://www.aproch.org/)
Ravi Gulati is the founder of Manzil, (http://www.manzil.in/) a youth empowerment and learning center in New Delhi. Operating out of Gulati's home, Manzil is a unique resource designed for local low-income youth. It offers classes in traditional subjects such as English and Math, but also fosters the creative arts and leadership capacity building to provide a more holistic approach to critical thinking and learning.
Viren Joshi is co-founder of Manav Sadhna http://www.manavsadhna.org/ in the Gandhi ashram, Ahmedabad. Inspired by Gandhian ideals of truth, non-violence, uplifting the oppressed, and promoting health, sanitation, and education, Manav Sadhna strives to adapt these ideals to the complex issues facing India and the world.


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This is alot of good information on changing the educational system. I am wondering what kind of changes are going to happen this year. good post. We will share this with the class.