THE INTANGIBLES OF EDUCATION

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

Martin Luther King, Jr

Education is understood as a process by which society transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another.In order to educate in the 21st century and make the student “a lifelong learner”, faculties and administrators need to cultivate their interest in the material by connecting classroom to real life and integrating culture and heritage with education. Providing rich content and the best possible curriculum are critical, but still, there are several important, intangible – and often overlooked factors of equal or greater importance that makes learning possible and teach the timeless skills.Visibly the progress card elaborates at length the measurable benefits of education like progress in subjects like mathematics, science, languages, humanities etc With the changing times there is a need to identify those factors that may be neglected, undervalued or laid aside in pursuit of imparting holistic education. Some of the intangibles that an educational system should plan to embrace could be social consciousness, responsibility for self and society, compassion and care, creative and critical thinking, ability to differentiate between good and bad, respect global perspective, career preparedness. life skills etcWe must acknowledge that there is more to education than data and scores, and that ultimately, non-achievement factors like “life skills” not generally thought of as something to be “taught” or “learned.”but are integral to success in life and may not be easily measurable.Involvement in extracurricular activities teach specific skills—like how to play an instrument—but also the so-called intangibles, like how to be a part of a team, how to be a gracious winner and loser, and that persistence and hard work yield success. Involvement in sports, for example, is correlated with higher levels of self-confidence and academic performance. The social, psychological and educational benefits of extracurricular activities and sports lead to sustainable development .But questions persist.

Most of the benefits of education are intangible, except the components as information transfer skills, which includes data, facts, concepts or their application. This component can be easily digitized yet cannot be termed as ‘unique’  benefit. Though they are visibly pertinent on the personal profile of an individual and help in attaining success in life, be it an interview or a competitive entrance examination but to sustain in a vocation or to further rise on the  professional front, what really comes to one’s rescue is a good habit &value system as an outcome of positivity & resilience The intangible benefits of higher education can be broadly classified under three categories:

Level one-micro skills one acquires as a result of information transfer ie making spreadsheets profile making, common courtesy etc They represent more than mere information, but, being specific, are not easily generalizable to other activities

Level two-Less specific are higher education’s ‘macro’ intangible benefits, such as the ability to solve problems, to think critically, to communicate both orally and in writing, career preparedness, to work in teams (sometimes more deeply acquired outside of the classroom in team sports, band, student forums, community outreach clubs, etc.) and to accept personal responsibility for one’s actions.

Level three- Lastly, higher education’s ‘meta’ intangible benefits emerge from assuming the aforementioned responsibility for one’s personal outcomes,also known as strengthening of character and life skills.

The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson. – Tom Bodett

It is pertinent that we reduce the gap between the two by embracing the “intangibles”. To embrace the intangibles, the first step is to embrace the child in totality. Acceptance of differential ability, shift of focus from IQ towards SQ & EQ, recognizing all the eight multiple intelligences advocated by Howard Gardner, shifting of pedagogy from teaching to learning, incorporation of HOTS and emphasis on knowledge creation & synthesis rather than knowledge transmission are some of the steps in this direction. Carl Jung, a psychologist puts the essence of relationship aptly when he says “one looks back with appreciation upon brilliant teachers, but with gratitude for those who touched our feelings” . The curriculum is so much necessary new material, but the warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” The schools of today need to embrace the teacher as well and work upon them by providing them windows to grow emotionally and intellectually. The educational leaders too need to recharge themselves periodically by bringing outside stakeholders like Board of Governors, School owners, prospective parents, government departments, local citizens on board to participate in their vision and mission through meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences.

There could be some factors like time constraints, insensitive policy makers at micro level, identification, mutual cooperation from stake holders, inadequate recognition in existing set up etc that may mitigate against maintaining the focus on the intangible dimension of work. It is important to align the vision of all stakeholders in the same direction by making them take part in school’s goal and mission drives, The educational institutions could identify and validate the ‘Intangibles ‘and make them a part of school’s collective vision and policy which could also be reflected in its school behavior policy, discipline policy and teacher’s code of conduct. It must be communicated to all stake holders in the education process namely parents, teachers, students and community and reiterated from time to time by adopting practical methods to sustain the ethos within the institution. Some practices could be adopted like comradery between senior and junior students, student’s positive attitude towards old & aging, disabled, support staff and their elders along with community outreach initiatives that could give depth to the curriculum apart from its visible breadth

Some creative ways in which these intangibles could be fostered in the students both within and outside classroom are morning assemblies, value week celebrations, value driven lesson plans etc. Through their involvement in activities indicating balance in life parents could further encourage their wards by becoming their ‘ role models’ as their traits get emulated very fast. Family celebration of festivals, gesture of respect for country, helpers, elderly& needy in society, community outreach initiatives etc could work towards character building. Character is formed at home, at work, at play and in the community. One does not need school/college to be a person of character. But if society wants citizens of character and responsibility, one of — maybe the — most efficient routes to that end is the support of good education. Study after study of its benefits demonstrate students of good educational institutions have greater intellectual, artistic and critical thinking skills, civic mindedness, marital stability, self-esteem, more successful children, greater ethnic and gender tolerance and so on.

Educational institutions today ought to focus their energies on those activities which, produce people of character. Its time to embrace the Intangibles of Education.

-ARTI CHOPRA

PRINCIPAL

AMITY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

SECTOR-46, GURGAON

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