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Democratic Education

– Alka Verma, resident director, zamit

Before this pandemic hit us, we saw students studying in school classrooms rather than online, sitting behind their tablets/computer/phone screen from anywhere across the country. Before this pandemic, the majority of parents wanted their kids to attend regular school rather than opting for other methods like homeschooling, alternative learning etc which is now gaining momentum and importance in Indian families. One of the most important learning from this 4 month+ lockdown is there is a need for students, school, and parents to be future-ready and continue working in improving their learning methods, so that, any catastrophe won’t disrupt and interfere in the education of students as it will not be dependent on anyone other than the students itself.

Democratic education- Do what you love!

Following our Prime Minister’s motto of being ‘atmanirbhar’ (meaning self-sufficient), Democratic education allows the students to be atmanirbhar. It is the dissolution of education and aims to empower the students to be self-sufficient and self-determined for their education. This basically means students will study WHAT they wish to and HOW they want to. Students will choose to study what interests them and is an ability match for each, right from the first grade and will be accountable for their choices & careers.  Dematerialism will pave the way for democratic education as it does not allow room for competition for wealth & power and the broader aim will be to promote universal happiness along with individual growth in accordance to one’s needs. What does a democratic classroom look like? A democratic classroom will consist of students and teachers where the students will be free to move around, sit and do whatever they wish to do in a disciplined manner. They won’t have their teachers around them all the time, there will be some authority on them to ensure discipline and safety of the students and of course mutual respect, but it won’t be authoritarian. The students will be guided by the teacher, but won’t be the center that drives the learning process. These students will drive their own learning. They won’t be instructed to sit or study in a certain manner, they can study individually or in small groups, whatever feels best to them at that moment.

Democratic learning will lead to robust mental health.

We hear many stories about school students suffering from various mental health issues because of reasons like exam pressure, rote studies, tight schedules, parental pressure, peer-pressure etc or just unsatisfied and unhappy with their studies or subjects. For the longest time we remember, school authorities along with the parents, ” support are trying to work on this issue, but somehow we still have a long way to go. Hence, Democratic education will help and improve the mental health of the students as well as parents as it falls within the range of democratic values which ensures freedom, equality, justice at all levels.

Build learning power

In order to make students ‘‘atmanirbhar’ it is very important to get them involved and make them a part of their learning process rather than being instructed and controlled by the school authorities. The learning process involves a number of factors which vary in every student and so giving them control of their learning process in their hands is the most definite and fruitful method of encouraging self-determination. When students are allowed to choose the topics they wish to study, the method to follow to study that topic, it empowers the students, promotes a happy environment and pushes the momentum of the learning process. In this scenario, teachers will play the role of facilitators and catalyze the learning process. Students left to their choices will make them more responsible, bring spontaneity to their learning process and of course create ‘atmanirbhar’ students.

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EducationWorld May 2024
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