Why should you be using the Internet for your child’s education?

By Karthik Ramaswamy.

Every student has a time in life where he feels academically challenged – I myself was faced with that dilemma during the time I was applying to different Universities to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. There is a certain overflow as well as a lack of information one finds in today’s education system: It has become more of a business, and people fail to understand WHY learning and schools were invented in the first place. The essence of learning something lies in curiosity – if you are genuinely curious about a topic, there’s no way you can’t learn more about it. That curiosity is sometimes self-generated, but most of the time, needs to be inculcated – which is why learning about something is very different in comparison to doing well in an exam and scoring marks.

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/2281

At the end of the day, both go hand in hand. Genuine interest fosters a hunger for knowledge, and later a desire to apply that knowledge – which is where exams come in – in places where you can test your understanding skills. And one has to agree; there is no better place to do that than the Internet.

I’m pretty sure many kids today are well acquainted with the net. I was nothing short of shocked when my 10 year old cousin came up to me and asked me about things i hadn’t even heard of before – which explains how much these kids really get out of digging around the internet. When I was in sixth grade, there was no option really, other than paying attention in class (or expensive personal tutors who, well, lets face it, really didn’t make kids learn the right way) and then preparing all by yourself for examinations. The only material you had was government-supplied textbooks that focused more on an examination point of view rather than actual learning. The skills needed for grasping more complicated concepts in science was only inculcated through active participation in competitive exams such as Olympiads.

Today, if i want to read about airplanes, I can go to Wikipedia and learn all about them the very same day. So much so, that within a month, I can take online lessons and match my knowledge to a graduate in aerospace. This vast, vast treasure trove of information comes with universities realizing that knowledge must be shared extensively – with more involvement from the student community, the internet continues to be an invaluable resource to students all over the world. But things are slightly different at the school level. Of course, one cannot simply start reading graduate level subjects out of interest. Moreover, it is very important that the ‘Base’ – fundamentals or ‘fundas’ as they are better known – must be absolutely concrete. And this can happen only at the school level. If they aren’t strong, the student will have to first build them later on – which is frankly a waste of time, and no student likes to go back to what he studied at the school level once he graduates from school.

Any kid can read a textbook, learn a few lines, write it in exams and get a good grade. But does that really help them? Not really. Because when they have to apply that knowledge, they fall behind people who use these other resources – and actually learn the subject. These ‘resources’ come in many shapes and sizes, but what is important is that they must be focused on making the student learn. Make him think, develop his curiosity and then challenge him with applications of what he learned – that way, he’ll not see it as an obligation, but as a fun activity that engages him in learning new things. Textbook knowledge is not at all enough, and most students find it boring to read the same thing again and again.

Don’t limit them as far as their education is concerned – it’s important that they pick up as much as they want (and need) to along the way. And with a toll as powerful as the Internet, the whole world is, quite literally, at their fingertips.

About the Author:

Karthik Ramaswamy is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from VIT university, Vellore. He is a captain at Assailing Falcons, VITU’s debut aero design team. He is a writer at the Brain Bought blog.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Wings of Success!

sampada.bidikar@learnhive.net

You may have heard about this story of a man and a cocoon that goes as follows:

A man once found a cocoon. He observed a small opening and was curious. He sat and watched the caterpillar for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. It was trying hard to emerge from the cocoon, going back and forth, stopping at times, and trying to find its way out. The man felt bad for the caterpillar, seeing it struggle.

The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man watched the butterfly, expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.

The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realize that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluids from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. [1]

He did not understand that every step in the process is important. And if you skip one step, though you might seem to have reached your destination, the result might not really be the best.

To reach any goal, there are no shortcuts. Everyone has to go through the rigorous process and follow the path to reach their destination. Struggle is nature’s way of bringing out the best in us. That’s the law of nature.

We too should take our time, find our path, celebrate and enjoy every milestone along the way till we reach our destination.

Most of us know this philosophy, but how many of us really follow it? Unlike the man in the story, do we let our caterpillars come out of their cocoon on their own, by letting them go back and forth, have their own pace, making sure they accomplish every milestone, so that finally they can emerge as beautiful butterflies? Even if we want to, do our children have the leverage to do things their own way and at their own pace?

All children are naturally curious about things and passionate about learning. But somewhere down the line, in this bizarre game of learning, they get lost. During the game, they might stumble at a step or need more time than others to complete a step. Unfortunately, we do not always give them the opportunity to pause and think, or revisit a previous step, since we hurry them to catch up with others. So they tend to skip some important steps. They may reach the finish line but more often than not, the learning is incomplete or is lost. And that’s a heavy price to pay. Because as Albert Einstein rightly said “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”

Education today is operating on a factory model, where children are pushed through the system for a period of 12 years. The expected outcome is for them to be “educated” citizens, graduating with the exact same skill sets, so that they are eligible for higher education or for getting jobs [2] . But that is not how it really works, does it?

Through this system we might be able to achieve the quantitative goal of literate citizens, but what about the qualitative goal?

Today’s classrooms do not give our children the opportunity to study at their own pace, or in their own way with their preferable learning style. Nor is there enough time to revisit a concept which is either not understood or misunderstood. Willard R. Daggett (Ed.D, CEO of the International Center for Leadership in Education.) has accurately stated the reason for this as – “We have organized schools not by how kids learn; they have been organized by an easy way to teach.” [2]

There is a lot of research happening in the Learning Sciences to bridge this gap. Different sciences like psychology, computational sciencesociology, anthropology, child psychology and cognitive science contribute to the “Science of Learning”. There are many papers published on the best practices of teaching, different models and styles of learning, and much more.

And with the aid of technology, there is lot of scope for progress and an excellent opportunity to offer our children the right resources to learn and grow.

References:

[1] http://www.forwardsteps.com.au/docs/Struggling-Butterfly-Story.pdf

[2] http://dreamsofeducation.wordpress.com/

About the Author:

Sampada Bidikar (sampada.bidikar@learnhive.net) is the Team Lead – Content Development at Learnhive.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).