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The classroom is dead

"Tumne swaraj ko dekha hai kya. Suna hai aaj se 50-60 saal pehle delhi se chala tha. Yaha to abhi tak nahi aaya hai. Agar tumhe mile toh hume bhi mila dena" - this was the acclaimed film producer Prakash Jha who was sharing his experience of a conversation with a localite in a naxalite hit area of Maharashtra. While the power packed agenda (at the India Today Aspire Education Summit 2012) and the whose and who of the education sector discussed and deliberated on almost every aspect of the education sector, here are some of the bytes that really made me think: 

M J Akbar, Editorial Director, India Today - A nation is what it thinks and that education is the prescription of poverty Shiv Nadar, Founder & Chairman - HCL Technologies talked about creating a stunning impact and that India would need many more Mayo and Doons for the poor to make the education more inclusive. His experiment in creating Vidya Gyan schools in Uttar Pradesh are an excellent step forward by any corporate house to bridge the divide between urban and rural and possibly India would require many such path-breaking innovations.  And then there was a perfect valedictory address - by Anand Kumar Founder of Super 30.  Yes, he is not a corporate warrior or an investment banker or a philanthropist. He is neither an IIT or Harvard alumni - he is just a common man who has more than 270 success stories to share at his credit. So what's great about him? Anand Kumar has been instrumental in providing coaching to bottom of pyramid students (who come from most underprivileged backgrounds in Bihar) and making them crack the India's most prestigious IIT JEE entrance examination. And the stories of transformation he shared can give enough inspiration to anyone wanting to make a difference. However, the passionate talk by Dr Pratibha Jolly, Principal Miranda House - was the most powerful session -  coming straight from the heart of a teacher who has for years interacted and dealt with students. Her discussion that the classroom is dead and that future classrooms will be more like a studio/ laboratory where students can experience real time learning in a collaborative environment holds immense truth in the way education is evolving. (Her thoughts reminded me of one of my school teachers whom i have lost touch with).  Education in India is at the inflection point and classrooms of future will certainly not be purely brick and mortar assets with just modern technologies enabling them - they will be much much more with role of teachers becoming more crucial then ever. While technology may take center stage, content may become easily accessible - the role of teacher in synthesizing the information, repacking & delivering it (drawing from her experience) in most appropriate formats to the students will define the classrooms of future!

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