(Uma Mahadevan Dasgupta is an IAS officer. The column first appeared in the print edition of the Indian Express on August 24, 2021)
- How should schools reopen after the pandemic closure? In the midst of discussions about learning deficits, remediation, accelerated learning, and so forth, what is clear is that it should not be business as usual. Education is not a race. It is a child’s journey to fulfilling his potential. Reopening schools should be an opportunity to rethink the teaching and learning process itself. Santiniketan, the experimental school started by Rabindranath Tagore, offers some lessons. Tagore once wrote a short story about the education system. A little bird was fluttering about happily — until a king noticed it. The king ordered that the bird needed to be taught properly. What followed was a long and painful Procrustean sequence of events: A golden cage, textbooks, batons. The education industry thrived; the bird did not. “Its throat was so completely choked with the leaves from the books that it could neither whistle nor whisper.” Eventually the bird fluttered to the floor of the cage and died.