"Our education system is more like an examination system. I don't know how many look at it as a learning curve," said Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai in a Principals' Webinar hosted by Times NIE and Stones2Milestones. There is so much truth and power in these statements. The webinar discussed this in detail and went into how our system can be re-imagined if students and teachers were to actually work together.

Often, students' voices are dismissed and unheard, as they have never been decision-makers in their own school journey. But what if we were to flip this script? Best-selling author Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai, Stones2Milestones Founder Kavish Gadia, and ad guru Bharat Dabholkar, came together to explore this. Here are a few key takeaways from the webinar on the power of students and teachers working together to strengthen our education system:

  1. Framing Exams and Exam Metrics
    "The government decides whether to keep the Board exams, or cancel them. But who actually frames the question papers?" asked Dr. Pillai. Students can be consulted on the marking system, the weightage given to different topics, as well as exam formats. They may have suggestions that can reposition exams as something beyond 'memory tests'. Their inputs can help assess the understanding of concepts, rather than learning for the sake of marks. "Teachers should create comfort within children, that they are not here to make children fail exams," said Dr. Pillai.
  2. Encouraging Students to 'Un-Belong'
    Students' academic performance and approach towards dealing with pressure can be improved if we stop trying to fit them in boxes. Teachers can encourage students to pursue interests other than studying. "It can be mimicry, art, whistling..." as Mr. Dabholkar put it. With such encouragement, students will also help teachers understand how they can focus on overall development, and not just academic success.
  3. Personalising Learning Experiences
    Especially in online classes and with the wealth of available information online, teachers can heighten the learning experience of a child. If teachers approached students and parents as 'clients', they would know that personalised experiences work best, implied Mr. Gadia. It would be worth it to understand each child's learning journey and help them with resources that are personally beneficial for them, at their level. Students can also help put together a list of resources which can be shared with the class.
  4. Pushing Student-Led Bold Decision Making
    "Get the naughtiest student techies and create a group of them," said Mr. Gadia. "Create a technological council." It will be students who actually pave the way forward for digital learning in the school. They will introduce the best tools for hybrid learning, as well as figure out apps which can track their academic progress. Give them the space to take decisions, and keep them in charge. With a renewed sense of ownership amongst students, the school ecosystem will flourish.

Apart from these suggestions, teachers and students can also work together to identify the best student exchange programmes, multi-cultural experiences, and more. If more school leaders treat students as stakeholders, it will truly help bridge learning gaps and create a healthier education system.

Watch the full webinar here.