Mumbai University- The Next Step
Shruti Parmar reflects on what’s missing in the education we receive.
For being one of the first Universities to be set-up in India and also one that counts Lokmanya Tilak and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar amongst its alumni, the University of Mumbai is as prestigious as it can get. And yet, it is not rare to hear when here in Mumbai, a buzz of complaints against the system of education that’s being propagated within this University. From technical bureaucracy to a lack of motivation, the larger philosophy of education needs a re-haul in Mumbai. We need a University belief system that would make students think twice before they say that the “standard of education is much better abroad.” Here are some inside-the-classroom changes that conversations with teachers and students bring to the fore-front and are the building blocks of what we can call better education.
The most common grouse from students is that the teaching methodology in Colleges here is outdated. Although some teachers may utilize a combination of multi-media & technology, like videos and presentations and discussion forums to make classes more participative and interesting, students are mostly left at the mercy of their luck of having a good teacher. Centralising basic teaching tools of the 21st century, where teacher training in innovative teaching tools is assured and constructive feedback from students redressed is an urgent requirement for the system. This inspiration of an education that is in keeping with the pace of the world can greatly enhance the memory, impact and utility of the subject material.
This also ties in with the hierarchical notion of teaching that we have, where students and their opinions and ideas are not always respected or encouraged in our classrooms. This is what makes most students passive and often uncaring receivers of knowledge. It is also a reason why most students are less confident of themselves in the long run and muddled with queries and ideas that could have been discussed and implemented had the opportunity for deliberation been provided. C.S Lewis once said, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” In an information age where facts are easily available to everyone, the role of education has definitely shifted to motivate the best use of that knowledge from an early age. A more practical application of theory must be at the centre of classes to increase the relevance of subjects and provide context for students about their role in society. The University may create an award grant system for innovation from students within every subject area. This can bring out creativity that is crucial for the betterment of the student and the subject itself as it changes one’s outlook towards learning and motivates research when one sees education in action.
And of course, students need to take some responsibility as well. There is only growing competition in the world but one cannot afford to lose sight of all the social, economic and political challenges and opportunities for our generation. Having the opportunity of studying in Mumbai is a great exposure and it must be enough inspiration for us to be active and to make the most of our education and make ourselves valuable citizens to the world. With the tools of technology, we have no excuse.
The University can encourage collaboration within students of various Colleges even on social media platforms to share knowledge and strengthen the community of teachers and students it educates.
In a nation known for the importance it places on qualified citizens, the University of Mumbai has the heritage, prestige, influence and ability that is capable of shaping the best quality of education in the world. The administration, faculty and students of MU must therefore work towards this important objective and be enthused in their function just as Albert Einstein perfectly sums up the philosophy when he says, “Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as hard duty. Never regard study as duty but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.”