Reflections on Teachers Day 2019

Reflections on Teachers Day:

The recent upheaval in the economic and employment landscape is evidence that a paradigm shift is taking place. The key observable is rapid change and the VUCA ( Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world taking shape. This presents an unprecedented challenge for teachers. It is no longer about teaching to pre-determined learning outcomes. John Holt has suggested that “ Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.” The key words are ‘ love learning and learn well’. 

A person with School education from a prestigious high fees School with granite flooring in the classrooms and air-conditioned buses for going to and from School passed with high marks in CBSE and further coaching at a well  advertised coaching Institutions and access to educational Apps promoted by film stars may feel that he is well equipped for the future. But as he tries to engage with the world, he realises that his education has not adequately prepared him either to learn more on his own or to bring any economic value for which he could be remunerated. There was no love for learning and no pursuit for excellence. 

The World Economic Forum, the Brookings Institute, Oxford University and many consulting organisations in their reports have indicated that in the coming age of the confluence of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the 4th Education Revolution, there will be a disruption across most of the human activities. The recent economic slowdown in many parts of the world is a consequence of these changes. 

The only way to see further is to stand upon the shoulders of giants ( as Newton had said, a long time back).

And the collective wisdom of  these giants ( Ken Robinson, Guy Claxton, Clayton Christensen, Anthony Seldon, Eric Hanushek, Howard Gardiner, Conrad Wolfram, Jeanette Wing, Joseph E Aoun) has a simple prescription. The unequivocal advice of all thought leaders is to immediately start pursuing active learning, to develop learning power as the means of overcoming their miseries and sorrows. Learning is not a spectator sport, it is a participative activity free from ‘ taughtitis’. 

This mantra of  “Learning first, AI next “ should be pursued  by everyone  to add to their learning potential. The Economic value add by educators has been well researched by the Stanford Professor Eric Hanushek in his book ‘ The Knowledge Capital of Nations’. The Human Capital Index (HCI) database provides data at the country level for each of the components of the Human Capital Index as well as for the overall index, disaggregated by gender. The index measures the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18, given the risks of poor health and poor education that prevail in the country where she lives. It is designed to highlight how improvements in current health and education outcomes shape the productivity of the next generation of workers, assuming that children born today experience over the next 18 years the educational opportunities and health risks that children in this age range currently face. 

The government has raised “serious reservations” over the first Human Capital Index (HCI) compiled by the World Bankas part of the WorldDevelopment Report 2019. Indiais ranked at 115 position in the index with its score of 0.44 on a scale of 0 to 1 coming even below the average score for South Asia. One way to substantially  raise this score is the concept of “ The AI experience Hub”. 

The AI experience Hub: 

With the goal of every village being connected with optical fibre, it is feasible to have a whole new approach to raising the HCI from its present 0.44 to a significantly higher value. The spread  of long distance education to which the Prime Minister referred in the recent Independence Day speech, has the potential that by the time a child attains the age of 18, it has evolved to the lifelong learner that John Holt referred to.

To enable this to happen, numerous AI experience hubs may be established with as wide a reach as possible, using Government projects, private entrepreneurial initiatives, NGO initiatives and CSR initiatives of large Corporates. 

These AI experience hubs will have an inspirational ambience, fast Internet access and facilities for participating in remotely held webinars. 

The infrastructure at each hub would be a suitable mix of consumer devices like Alexa, PCs that can run the required software, cloud services from Amazon, IBM, Google etc. Raspberry Pi with AIY voice kit, Intel Mobidius CNN stick, Amazon DeepLens and others that can help members to build projects that demonstrate AI abilities such as face recognition, Build a voice recogniser, Create a voice user interface, Control a LED,Attach a servo, Control a DC motor do fake news recognition and so on. 

Members will be from the neighbourhood community ranging from School students to grown ups. As the purpose is to enhance curiosity as well as to make applications and perhaps sow the seeds of an AI start-up, there will be categories of memberships such as : Observer, Explorer, Creator, Developer and Entrepreneur. 

Education and training to overcome ignorance of STEM and acquisition of new skills led by complex problem solving, cognitive flexibility, critical thinking and creative thinking for very large numbers over very short times is fundamental. Educators empowered with mobile phone technology of specific Apps and WhatsApp for learner cohort management will be the most powerful enabler for this. India could possibly become the world’s hub for educational Apps.

The reason why accomplished practicing educators are more important than the policy maker bureaucrats and fossilised experts in this situation is that while an expert can demonstrate his or her expertise, an inspiring technology empowered educator can transform every ignorant person to an expert by using techniques for successful learning. 

These Stages of Learning are –

  • Stage1: Unconscious Incompetence.
  • Stage2: Conscious Incompetence.
  • Stage3: Conscious Competence.
  • Stage 4: Unconscious Competence.
  • Stage5: Flow / Mastery.

I have labelled the way forward as Learning 321, to mean the right approach to education in the 3rd decade of the 21st century. The 3 digits 321 indicate that we are referring to the upcoming 10 years, and in these rapidly changing times a horizon of more than a decade is too long to foresee and anticipate. With the education conceptualised in Learning 321 which is the combination of the soul of an IIT education, the large amount of resources accessible through the Internet and the power of self-education, the otherwise dreaded VUCA ( volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world becomes transformed to a visible, unbounded, challenging and abundant world. 

Learning 321: the 8-fold path:

1: Teachers have a deep learning mindset ( well versed in deep learning techniques of Machine learning as well as pedagogy of mastery learning and learning in depth) 

2: Learners are heavily engaged in the learning process having mastered the techniques of learning to learn and to build ‘learning power’.

3: Instructional activities promote “high cognitive challenges” to build Complex Problem Solving Skills

4: Opportunities to apply learning to authentic situations. 

5: Development of Mathematical and Computational Thinking

6: Following the adage of Francis Bacon that “Knowledge is Power”

7: Fluency in English language skills.

8: Blending of personalised and community learning. 

Happy Teachers Day!

This is your decade. Educators will be the most important. They will be training AI empowered software and educating humans to transform them from uninformed persons to experts. 

They are the engines of India’s acceleration to the 5 trillion dollar economy.

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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1 Response to Reflections on Teachers Day 2019

  1. Namrita K Rathee says:

    Absolutely insightful article that gives me a deeper understanding of deeper learning.

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