• Rajesh Patnaik

21st Century Education

The importance of educators in the 21st Century. The code of excellence.

It constantly reminds us of the future we are heading with new inventions in science, health, technology and interaction. To look at this in another way our way of learning has changed. We are constantly fed with information and data. We are continuously acquiring the help of more advanced tools to proliferate productiveness and dwindle the usage of time. Starting with a view from our window to the world outside to the access of information on smartphones everything has significantly changed the way we see and perceive things. The world is battering great competitiveness of excellence not among humans but humans against artificial intelligence.

Basic economics teaches us that resources are scarce. So is employment. The acquisition of our livelihood by AI is not far. Automation already has replaced jobs. On one hand, while we are advancing with the help of AI and on the other, we are losing on human resources. An anticipated pandemic like this changed everything upside down. We were warned yet we were not ready. One of the most threatened and challenging jobs in this crisis is of educators and teachers. In the age of the internet, everyone has access to abundant information. Organizations with the help of the internet, websites and apps, (such as Khan Academy, BYJUs, Coursera, Edx, etc), changing the dynamics of learning, changing the mode of education.

Here comes a highly sophisticated question “what is the role of teachers in 21st century education?”

Before finding an answer to that question we need to understand education a bit more profoundly. What education has done to human civilization that forever changed the game of the human race. In the last couple of centuries advancement in science and technology paved the path to human civilization to lead race outside from the orbit of the earth. Remember this famous quote from 20th July 1969?

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” - Neil Armstrong

Source: Wikipedia

In all of history, it was the first time ever a human being landed feet on the moon. Education has taken us as far as millions of miles ahead from Earth, to Mars. Giants like NASA and SpaceX on their way to colonize humans on Mars. We are just only a few years away from watching it happen. Education has given us science, maths, technology, improved medicine and health, a tremendous lifestyle and so called AI as well. Without the advancement in education, many of us wouldn’t be alive today. Education is profound wisdom.

Education without morals and values is just only a pile of data and information. What morals and values teach us is balance and inner peace. If we fail to attain it the world around is a miserable place. It becomes a living hell. There were so many instances in history that point towards the lack of values and morals completely alters the balance and peace. Such as the Holocaust, the Nazi genocide of Poles, the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, and many others, it clearly implies the greed, envy and dark human desires can destroy world peace, the complete lack of compassion and love.

One of the cruelest genocide ever to be carried out by humans was the detonation of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. Nearly half a million instantly died and many were injured.

Source: Business Insider

“In war, better take a state intact than destroy it. Better take an army, a regiment, a detachment, a company intact, than destroy them. Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting. The highest form of warfare is to attack strategy itself. The next, to attack alliances; the next to attack armies. The lowest form of war is to attack cities. Siege warfare is the best resort.” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Strategic Offensive

Source: Radio Today

In his book Sun Tzu implies that there will be times war couldn’t be avoided but that doesn’t mean the war is to run rampage on enemies and completely burn them down to the ground. Battles can be won without fighting them. The second last line states “the lowest form of war is to attack cities.” Indeed the detonation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not only the lowest form of war but also the cruelest genocide. There were hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians; women and children were there who didn’t ask for that. The consequence of an atomic explosion is the worst kind of nightmare.

If there were profound morals and values for human life this could have been avoided. Rather than using education for the upliftment of love and compassion, science and excellence, health and wellbeing; we’ve built thousands of atomic bombs and weapons which is enough to level the earth for good.

Four billion miles away from earth on Feb 14, 1990, the day of Valentines, the Voyager 1 spacecraft turns towards earth capturing the view of our beautiful planet suspended in a sunbeam. The first-ever to see this was the scientist Carl Sagan. Later he described in his book “Pale Blue Dot - A Vision Of The Human Future in Space” a speech that will swirl through human indulgence. He talks about the endless cruelty visited by human beings.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives...” - Carl Sagan

Listen to this heart-wrenching speech by Carl Sagan that he further talks about our home in cosmic life.

Video Source: carlsagandotcom

The only way out of this is using education as a medium to teach morals and values so we can restore the balance and inner peace in this world and within ourselves. Modern tech can provide us information and data as much as we want but to shape the future towards profound wisdom we need to educate children for that, for this time being, AI and tech can’t achieve that feat. We need educators and teachers for that. They are the only ones who can pave the path towards a better future. Without them, there will be no end to racism and gender discrimination.

There is absolutely no denying that educators and teachers need to gear up for education in the 21st century with advanced tools and tech to redefine the nuanced meanings of excellence in education.

The future is uncertain even though there is a great advancement in medicine and technology. We’ve yet to tackle catastrophes like global warming, extreme natural disasters, famines and other pandemics like this. God forbid we don’t have to see those days. It is evident that not only technology and science we need a collective human conscience and logical rationality to battle with a pandemic like this.

Article by

Rajesh Patnaik

Artist & Writer

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