The progressive education scene is abuzz with 21st century skills including critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration and the relevance of combining theory with the application is becoming increasingly clear. The demand of the 21st-century industry calls for a dynamic education that produces graduates who can navigate the landscapes of the knowledge society defined by constant change with ease and confidence.
The capability to innovate is not about gaining an edge anymore it is imperative in the world that is pressed for resources and being challenged by the disparity in developmental opportunities.
When we take these determinants of the industry and society, we get to appreciate the path-breaking ideation that underlies the New National Education Policy that conceptualizes an education system that is not compartmentalized and is holistic and multidisciplinary. It is logical to hope that the NEP will build bridges between STEM and Liberal arts. Besides that, the NEP will also become the point wherefrom the vocational and professional courses will get mainstreamed at the school level.
The leaders of the Education sector are of the opinion that the NEP will afford unprecedented freedom for the students to explore multiple disciplines and develop a diverse spectrum of skills, creativity, and critical thinking.
Disciplines are not straitjackets
The model that the NEP brings forth is based on the fluidity of different streams like arts and sciences. It relies on and values the synergistic relationship between disciplines and therefore encourages cross-disciplinary instruction from the very start i.e. from the schooling years.
The streams hitherto divide students rather rigidly making them either students of humanities or sciences or commerce. There is little interconnection between these two and this segregation amounts to restricted perspective and tunnel-vision. NEP proposes to broaden the horizons of students by doing away with the confines that the stream division imposes making education holistic in the true sense of the term.
Experts believe that the rigid disciplinary pathways that the current education system has put in place are unsuitable for the development of a critical and creative mind. The NEP will bring into light the avenues of interdisciplinary interactions and provide multiple interfaces for streams to contribute to the learning of one another.
The recruiters seek out specialists familiar with different disciplines who can independently understand the dynamics of complex systems. The flexibility to choose subjects from different disciplines that the NEP sets to afford students will help them develop a well-rounded academic profile and boost critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability.
The cross-disciplinary academic training will turn students into generalists boosting their career prospects by a great measure, for instance, the professionals who have acumen in social sciences will be much more adept in data analytics compared to those who have strict technical training in software applications. The innovative streak that such academic training will develop in students will prove to be invaluable for the industry.
Improved Teaching-learning Methodology
Integration of humanities and arts with STEM subjects will revolutionize assessments and it has proven advantages in terms of enhancing the learning outcomes, creativity, and higher-order thinking capabilities.
Every specialization involves cross-disciplinary training and systematic learning, and if students are exposed to the interdisciplinary way of thinking and problem-solving early on they will be better placed to navigate the courses in their higher studies and will be much better off while managing and leading teams and organizations that involve professionals from different fields working together towards common goals.
The global community sustains and thrives on cooperation and its efficiency lies in the soundness of the interdependent systems. The success of the professionals in the knowledge economy of the 21st century depends on the diversity of their knowledge and experience. The economy and society cannot flourish if the educational institutions keep producing graduates that are comfortably ensconced in their small and isolated disciplinary bubbles. The need of the hour and the watchword is diversification and the NEP 2020 has recognized it.
The learners with skill-sets envisaged by the NEP will find it easier to choose and thrive in unconventional careers. The pedagogies must adapt to the new learning needs and must become conducive to the inter-disciplinary approach.
NEP and Futuristic Education
What NEP proposes is the root and branch transformation of the educational systems and the transformation of learning will occur when the changes take place at all levels of educational structure. The structure of education will be transformed at the levels of governance and regulation, institutional capabilities, disciplinary constructs, and curriculum and teacher training.
Educational institutions will incorporate faculties for multiple and diverse disciplines and the curriculum across disciplines will have to become more flexible to give shape to interdisciplinary education.
The course offering of the educational institutions will undergo expansion and the curriculums will become multidisciplinary. There will be a lot of cross-listed electives for the students to choose from at the institutions and to accommodate the diverse study and research efforts the institutions will have to upgrade their infrastructure and faculty capabilities.
Another shift that is foreseen is a rather predictable one, it involves the mainstreaming of AI and automation in educational systems. The learning outcomes that are envisaged include lateral thinking, critical and logical reasoning and the capability to innovate.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.