As a school student in the 1980s, two subjects which me and many of my peers dreaded were maths and science. Three decades later despite the dawn of the hi-tech Google age, student sentiments towards these subjects haven’t changed much. The overwhelming majority of India’s 250 million school-going children continue to be afraid of science and maths.
The root cause of this aversion — as I discovered later in life — is not popular preference for the arts and humanities, but the way the sciences are taught in schools. In the majority of India’s 1.5 million schools, science teachers encourage textbook-focused rote rather than experiential lab learning. In overcrowded classrooms, children are expected to memorise scientific facts and data and regurgitate them in exams. The weekly science lab sessions are ritual events where children crowd around obsolete equipment.
The anti-social outcome of textbook-based science teaching in schools is that children are unable to develop scientific temper and mindset. An inquiry-based cause-effect discipline, experientially taught science helps children develop critical thinking, observation, logical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. These skills are essential for success in all 21st century professions.
In this month’s cover story, we highlight why it’s important for parents to help their children overcome science phobia and derive pleasure and enjoyment from learning science subjects. Our editorial team led by Cynthia John also presents a specially curated list of summer science learning programmes being delivered across the country which parents will find useful. Moreover, there are interesting suggestions on engaging children with science through nature activities, citizen science and simple experiments.
Apart from our regular features in this issue, we present highlights of the EW India Private Higher Education Rankings 2019-20. EducationWorld (an affiliate of ParentsWorld) commissioned the well-reputed Delhi-based market research and opinion polls company, Centre for Forecasting and Research (C fore) to interview 9,914 faculty, industry leaders and final year students countrywide who have rated and ranked the country’s Top 100 private universities, engineering institutes, B-schools and multi-disciplinary arts, science and commerce colleges on 10-12 parameters of higher education excellence. These league tables — based on field interviews by over 100 C fore representatives spread over four months — will enable parents to identify and shortlist the most suitable higher education institutions for their children.