We live in a society where respect is earned based on education. The school you attend and the college you graduated from becomes a status symbol other than a measure of your characteristics. Young children play with little toys while their overly ambitious parents have already entered the rat race. The educational rat race involving the best tutors, the top sports coaches, and multiple extra-curricular classes to guarantee a spot in a so-called prestigious institution. However, we fail to recognize that joining an institution is just the foundation block with all this planning ahead. After this, the society aims to systematically develop the child to become an ‘ideal’ student regardless of individual differences. Who promotes the individuality of this ‘all-rounded student? Are they even considered different from one another or just another product of an institution?
“Mr Kumar’s son got into an Ivy League, Mrs Sharma’s daughter scores so well! Why can’t you be more like them”. How many times have you heard this on popular media or by those around you? We as a society must promote individuality rather than this ‘herd’ mentality. Pioneering psychologists in the field, such as Alfred Adler, studied the importance of identity extensively. He denied the concept that humans are allotted into set categories of ‘personality types’. Instead, He believed in the matter of individual characteristics and uniqueness in each person. Today’s educational system of “standardized” tests and exams is only a measurement of how well the individual has been moulded into an ‘ideal student’ category. This by no means is an indicator of the student’s true potential, personal strengths, and weaknesses.
Fostering and harbouring individuality and differences proves to be an imperative aspect of work and school life. Different experiences and dissenting perspectives can meld together to create a more productive atmosphere. Multiple studies prove high levels of conformity in the school environment since being clubbed together has been promoted as the “safer” option. Instead of conforming with the majority, schools must celebrate debate and discussion. Embracing individuality is essential for personal happiness and self-worth. Once children are taught that it is okay to be different, the chase to ‘fit in’ will no longer be a priority. Another benefit of an educational system that promotes individuality is that it allows people to exercise their minds freely and think for themselves, rather than being restricted to the bounds of a textbook. Individualism promotes growth and problem-solving, which will, in turn, reaps great benefits in the future.
The concept of ‘rote learning’ and mugging textbooks one after the other proves inefficient in the long run. How many times have you given a 3-hour exam and felt like you have ‘word vomited’ all the information instead of learning something valuable? The new-age educational system must implement effective teaching techniques to promote active engagement through questioning, debates, and exploration. One such method of teaching is constant encouragement and reassurance to maximize classroom participation. With increased self-esteem, students will have the confidence to voice their opinions. Another such way is to create an environment of inclusivity. Teachers should re-consider their word choice to include personal pronounces to be gender-sensitive. In this way, each student can freely express who they are and embody their unique personas.
Times are changing. People are dissenting and learning through experiential “out of the box” techniques. On the one hand, the “chalk and talk” method is being practised. On the other hand, greater awareness through new educational methods and blogs such as the ‘Textbook Trap’ shows our society’s progress. In the 1900s, education aimed to create skilled factory workers with rote learning. However, in the 21st century, we live in education that aims at innovation and creativity, still leaving massive room for improvement. Schools that act as ‘machine-making institutions still exist today where children are taught to be a part of the herd. They are made to move around in a singular line and ask permission for basic rights. Let us create institutions that bridge the gap between teachers and students. Teachers sit along with the classroom instead of opposite it. Today, the education system is built for children to mould into the ‘cookie-cutter’ to produce look-alikes. We must promote individuality rather than this herd mentality. Make your children celebrate their lives not only based on their achievements, make your children value their body more than its appearance. They make your child feel self-assured to hone their very own unique and special characteristics.