5 things we can adopt from the ancient Indian education system in the new-age of education reforms

The Indian education system is at a critical juncture. We are in a period which I believe, is a watershed moment in the journey of reforms to achieving a forward-looking ecosystem. Educational institutions realise now, more than ever, the importance of being in tune with the times and adopting learning approaches that are modern, responsive and relevant. However, while we have our eyes set on the future, we are also more aware of our long established roots. In looking at transforming the education ecosystem, we are re-discovering our ancient education approaches which can be adopted as the foundation of this transformation. There is much to learn from the ‘Gurukul’ system of ancient India, which focussed on holistic development beyond academics, centuries before the topic became a buzzword in modern education. This included learning which ensured mental, cognitive, physical as well as spiritual development. Our great education institutions such as Takshashila, Nalanda, Vallaabhi, Vikramshila became the hubs of education, with students from as far as Europe coming to learn in these centres.

To answer the big question – can our education system be an amalgamation of the old and the new. I say, absolutely yes! Here are five aspects from our ancient Indian education system that can, and must, be adopted in the current education scenario.

1….Education modules to prepare for the real-world
If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is the need to be equipped with skills to face and tackle any challenge that an ever changing world throws at us. And this learning needs to begin early in schools. We need to hone students who can be resilient in the face of adversity. Ancient Indian Gurukuls focussed on imparting knowledge which could be practically implemented to find solutions to real-life problems. Pupils learnt through observation and practical methodologies. They went out to be in touch with nature, they interacted with their communities. The subjects taught from an early age included law, ethics, architecture, warfare, which the pupils needed to excel in life. With knowledge and skills such as critical analyses, innovation, leadership, creativity, imparted with practical projects, we will develop engaged, conscious, global citizens with an agency and a will to transform their communities and planet for the better.
2…A collaborative learning environment
In the ancient Gurukul traditions, the learning was not restricted to a teacher-textbook approach. Students learned with the teachers, and with each other. They worked together to develop innovative and creative solutions to problems. It was commonplace for students to discuss, deliberate and debate with each other or in groups. This forged an environment of knowledge exchange where students became the co-creators and adapted skills to be lifelong learners who knew how to work within communities. As we are moving to modern approaches to leaning, we have realised, how an collaborative environment leads to better learning outcomes for children.
3…Values at the core of teaching
Ethics and value education remained at the core of learning in the ancient Indian education system. The emphasis was on inculcating values such as self-reliance, empathy, creativity, integrity, loyalty, kindness as well as very strong moral and ethical behaviours. This was done through practical approaches as well as the teachings of the holy scriptures. It is scientifically proven that children who adopt values at an early age are more confident, competent and intelligent. Modern workplace ecosystems which are constantly evolving, prefer professionals who showcase life skills and strong values along with thematic know-how; and they go on to become conscious, forward-looking leaders with strong morals and ethics.
4…A student-centric, personalized approach
The ‘Gurukul’ system was a pupil-centric system which emphasized on individual strengths and learning needs of each student. Arjuna’s flair for archery was honed by his gurus individually. Some other pupil would have excelled with another talent that was honed further. This non-linear, progressive approach meant that the gurus understood differential skills of their students and crafted teaching methodologies accordingly. This is very much aligned to what modern teaching approaches say we must do. Students must be allowed to engage at their own pace without having to always act within the confines of a fixed curriculum. In a personalised learning environment, students learn better and adapt more, while their inherent talent is honed and nurtured.
5…An evaluation system of skills
The ancient evaluation of education was not restricted to grading thematic knowledge. Students were assessed on the skills they learnt and how well can they apply practical knowledge to real life situations. The modern education system must devise similar systems of assessment, so that students can also be evaluated on skill gain and practical usage more than what we currently do.
India has an unparalleled wealth of knowledge, traditions and systems – most of which were scientifically backed – which can be integrated into our modern education approaches. With this, we will be able to truly develop bright, resilient global minds, with beliefs and values firmly rooted in glorious Indian culture and traditions.

sabhar : Times of India , devyani jaipuria