Schools in India: A Journey From Idealism to Constructivism


Like every society, schools in India are carrying the most important duty of laying down the foundation stone of the nation’s education system and they decide the richness of human resources in the country. Evidently the human resources are assumed to be a critical indicator for the human development and thus education is instrumental in this aim. In addition to this, Every Society has its own inherent duties of preserving its culture, values, functionality and education is both the mean and end to this.

So if we examine the history of schools in India, it can be traced back to 3000 years ago. The Vedic period inculcated a well established culture of Ashram Schools based on Varnashram Dharma. The system preserved the ancient Hindu culture and was based on the principles of Idealism. The philosophy of Idealism integrates the values in Education and put some deductive principles to be followed by Teacher and student.

After ancient period, the medieval period was continuance of Ashram Schools in India, and a landmark change can be found when Lord Macaulay introduced the western education system and schools in India were restructured on the basis of western principles of modernity and liberalism. The great debate between the East and West Educational approaches is yet remembered. Wilkinson was advocating for Eastern method that was based on values of old Indian education system and Macaulay was propagating the Western system. Though Macaulay’s system was introduced finally in British India and the modern Indian Education System is laid on the foundation stone laid by Macaulay.

The system changed but dominance of societal values on the school system was continued. Schools in India continued to function on the principle of Spoil the rod, spare the child. The dominance over the children, their uniqueness, negligence of their personalities continued and thus we have been posing a curb on the spontaneous development of personality of children and threatening the growth of independent personalities of children in our society.

Importance of developing critical thinking, societal values and experiential learning was recognized by RTE Act which came into effect on 1 April 2010. This act did not only made school education free and compulsory but emphasized on the importance of activity based learning. Activity based learning is based on the principles of constructivism and it focuses upon the need to give the children enough scope to manipulate and realize their own experiences in the class rooms. Thus schools in India are in a way to restructure themselves according to a new era which is child centered. Each process needs to remain child friendly and centered.

This is a real challenge in a culture where authoritative social value have considerable reflections on school environment, inputs, processes and outcomes. The act came with a framework but schools in India have the real challenge to develop the conducive culture and for achieving, this they have to confront the existing value inertia and mindsets

The all we need in schools of India, is a changed school culture and environment which is child centered, friendly, non-authoritative, promoting independent growth of personalities and inculcating critical thinking among children. This would be interesting to observe whether Indian school culture finishes its journey from Idealism to Constructivism in its real sense.

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