"Rote learning out, new learning in," say parents

Gone are the days when parents compare their children to "Sharma ji ka ladka" and worry incessantly about marks. Today, parents want a 'new way of learning' for their children. "In most schools, the focus is on rote learning so that more and more marks can be given," complained a parent.

Openhouse surveyed nearly 200 parents and conducted long interviews with nearly 25 of them. We wanted to understand what parents really wanted from their child's education. 80 percent said that through education, they wanted their child to learn confidence and leadership. 65 percent said that they wanted all round development for their child.

When asked to rank 10 such options, marks was the third last consideration. It is quite evident that rote learning cannot fulfill these aspirations. Rote learning is just about mugging up the textbook and repeat it in the examination hall. After the exam is done, students forget everything. So what value does rote learning really add? Not much.

But what is the alternative? The parents we spoke to had the answer to this question. Every parent had their own version of this new way of learning, but there were a few things that stood out:

  • Go beyond the book: Just book learning is not enough. Children need to be street smart and connected to the real world. What they learn has to be relevant to the world at large. Just mugging up a formula won't help.

  • Interactive and innovative pedagogy: Parents believe that lecture based learning or classrooms that were just one sided, where the teacher did all the talking aren't enough. Classrooms should be more interactive where children can participate in discussions, quizzes and do projects.

  • Small class sizes: When there are 40 children in the class, a teacher cannot pay attention to all of them. Parents want smaller class sizes where a child can open up and a teacher can give the attention each child deserves.

  • Feedback: Parents want to know about their child's progress. Not everyday (duh, they have work to do!), but a weekly or a monthly update would be nice.

That's all about classroom learning. Parents today want more for their kids from an education.

 

“Education is meant to open up the world to you."

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They wanted their children to learn to think critically, learn to analyse situations, develop the ability to make decisions and finally learn how to learn.

Another parent said, "My son should have the tools and skills to do whatever he wants." Parents realize that in the changing job market today, knowing how to think is an essential skill. Bookish knowledge can only go so far.

Of course, good grades open the door to good colleges and the domino effect follows. But in the 21st century, it isn't enough. David Epstein, a sports journalist, wrote about this in his book Range.

At Openhouse, we understand our parents. We realize that the education system needs a rehaul. Our classes are not an ancient relic of the past where a teacher is talking for 90 percent of the class. We teach our students through experiments and activities. A chapter on lenses? Students build a projector in class. Shakespeare? Students enact a scene from Julius Caesar. By being active in the classroom, students learn better and connect concepts to the real world.

So when parents say "rote learning out, new learning in", Openhouse listens!