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Alternative Systems of Education – Clemenbit
Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

“While Montessori education could open up creative channels in my daughter, it will not prepare her for the stress and competitions in the corporate world” ~ Hemalatha Iyer

Hemalatha, a member of our New Constructs community, posted her honest assessment of the Montessori method and why she would not chose it for her daughter. While her own mother-in-law was a Montessori teacher and completely convinced about the merits of the system, Hema’s concerns are threefold:

1) The Montessori Method is by and large available only till Grade 5. The transition after that to a regular system could be quite difficult.

2) As a middle-class parent, one of the most important things she can offer her child is a good education. The Montessori system is unproven and too much of a gamble.

3) While she would like her daughter to avoid the stress she went through in her own education, the corporate world still values only degrees and grades. To have a bright future, her daughter needs to graduate from the best colleges with good grades.

Many of you have posted feedback to my posts on education. This is clearly an area of interest to all of us as parents or future parents. All of you agree that the current system of education is broken. The alternative methods are still in an experimental stage and have not yet become main stream. The question, then, is what should we as parents do? Commit ourselves – and our children – to admirable but unproven alternatives? Or commit ourselves – and our children – to the traditional but flawed education system?

My wife Girija, far more of a pragmatist than I am, shares Hema’s perspectives. As a technology person, I can see Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Cycle as a possible paradigm.

In his book ‘Crossing the Chasm’, Moore noted that any new technology is first adopted by a handful of Innovators who are eager and willing to try new approaches. Once the technology is relatively proven, the Early Adopters, who are visionaries, get on to the bandwagon. Most new technologies move to this stage relatively easily. However, there lies a big chasm between the Early Adopters and the next big group – the Early Majority, a.k.a. Pragmatists. Most technologies don’t make it across this chasm and go down the ditch.

The Montessori system and other alternate systems like the J K Foundation and the Aurobindo system are still on this side of the chasm with the Innovators and Early Adopters. Nowhere in the world has any form of innovative alternative education breached the chasm to become embraced by the Early Majority or Pragmatists who could make it mainstream. The push to get it across the chasm must come from a combination of three forces – employers, parents and policymakers.

As a business leader, I hear enough laments about the quality of people entering the workforce today – their inability to communicate, take initiative or innovate, and the low percentage of graduates who are actually employable.

Among policy makers, education is a high priority, with enormous budgets on programs likeĀ Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. However, most of the money is going towards hardware – the infrastructure – rather than teaching methods and training. A few states have introduced the Activity Based Learning system, but implementation has been inconsistent because of inadequate training.

Among parents, more and more of us are recognizing the undue pressure on our kids. Look at the increasing rate of student suicides. We all have an uneasy feeling that traditional education is harmful to our kids, and we wish there was a good alternative. These are all indications of a target group that is ripe for transformation.

The idea behind New Constructs is to mobilize an engaged community that can dialog on causes like education. We need to know how to equip our children to pursue their true calling in the Connected Age. Do come forward and share your thoughts on how we can create a groundswell of support for alternative methods of education.

By rahul