“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”- Herbert Spencer
With every year, this question is posed in front of me “How would you continue to provide the same quality of education with growing numbers?” This brings another question to my mind, ‘What is Quality education?’ Is it about great results? Accumulation of knowledge? Awards?
I found some of my questions answered when I went on a reconnaissance trip to Ladakh recently, during the June vacation, to finalise some details for our upcoming High school students’ trip. Amidst the towering Himalayas, one begins to gain a different perspective on life in general. One sees timeless mountains standing tall and resolute, seemingly impossible to conquer. They have gained this quality through a metamorphism, a transforming upheaval, which we know required colossal effort. Then one comes across the softly flowing water which appears delicate and transient, yet cuts pathways through ranges upon ranges of these giants by exerting consistent power. It creates an identity for itself, literally carves out an existence for itself by overcoming and even outrunning these mountains. And then there were the human beings, the Ladakhi people living a happy, content and humble life surrounded by the harshest conditions possible.
It is the attributes of the mountain and the river that I want my students to have: standing firm amidst difficulties, ready to transform to evolve as better human beings, being soft yet ready to take on the mightiest opponents through consistent effort. And I also want for them the ability to stay humble while facing and fighting the challenges of life; I want them to understand the importance of a happy and content life.
Having all these attributes would help them to create an identity of their own in an increasingly demanding world. Their path to success will be full of challenges, hence, the real test of their education will lie in how comfortably they will deal with these challenges and how capable they are at sustaining their successes, not just gaining them. Their education must have empowered them to acquire not just a few great results or victories but the ability to consistently learn from every failure and use every victory as a stepping stone to work towards the next.
A school, I believe, can provide quality education to its students if it is successful in creating a culture where everyone works towards acquiring character strengths, where everyone is on a journey of becoming a better human being, a human being with the character strength of a mountain and a river. Quality education, then, is all about preparing a younger generation with a strong character. A school which considers this kind of quality education a priority will ensure that it is setting a culture of inculcating these attributes; and it will do so through every opportunity available: during classroom lessons, engaging in co-curricular activities, being part of field trips or participating in events. The school’s focus becomes the longer term goal of building the character of all its inhabitants, not the gaining of accolades through its students’ successes.
So dear parents, yes, we can provide quality education even as our numbers grow if we all keep in mind what real Quality is – the foundation that nourishes and empowers students with belief in their own power to create a better world.