US - INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW

comes without financial charge. Aparna’s coaching is part of our public-education package—funded in the same way that today’s teachers are. We use free Autodesk software on our tablet to capture a 3-D file of our creation so that we can turn it into blue- prints for other cities and towns to use. And we enter the blueprints into a competition with the entries of thousands of other student groups designing play structures. The exercise is fun, functional, and educational, and results in a real finished work that might even have artistic and architectural merit. Most important of all, edu- cation ceases to become a chore or work and becomes a true joy, as it should be for everyone. BACK TO THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION Surprisingly, this learning expe- rience recaptures an ancient approach. Teaching started out, way back in time, as a one-to-one interaction between a guru and a chela. Then we moved toward the idea of school, class, and educa- tion, and it became a one-to-many process. In ancient Greece, this was a Socratic process, whereby a teacher guided students through the learning process by asking them questions. Back then, too, education was a privilege reserved for the elites. Through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, education remained a privilege in the West, but the process of learning became more rote, with more memorization. The church broad- ened access to education, afford- ing many students of lesser means the opportunity to study in exchange for entry into the reli- gious orders. Indeed, church stew- ardship of books of learning dur- ing the Dark Ages preserved invaluable knowledge from Roman times. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a much broader swath of students took to the chalkboards. This accelerated with compulsory education in the United States and India. But the model of one-to-many moved fur- ther toward rote learning, and teachers’ primary function became broadcasting information to the class, and an industrial education complex steadily emerged. Standard textbooks were con- structed, pending approval from centralized school districts. Creative projects were minimized in the school system. Subjects such as arts and music, though essential parts of life, failed to make the grade in this industrial education system and were large- ly removed from the learning track beyond light nods in the general direction of fine arts. Schools were constructed and schedules set up that required students to sit in a chair for six or seven hours a day to receive the same lesson— regardless of their ability or learn- ing style. They then went home and did largely the same home- work as their peers, working from the same textbooks. Although this process did standardize educa- tion, it also failed to take into account the reality that not all humans are alike. And India adopted the worst practices from the British, focusing on rote and memorization rather than the learning and enlightenment that were its tradition. The spirit of the guru and chela has largely been lost in the field of education—but can return with AI- avatars. 30 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2018 Vivek Wadhwa | Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University Engineering at Silicon Valley. Former entrepreneur and Syndicated columnist for Washington Post. Surprisingly, this learning experience recaptures an ancient approach. Teaching started out, way back in time, as a one-to- one interaction between a guru and a chela. Then we moved toward the idea of school, class, and education, and it became a one-to- many process.

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