What is the purpose of education? Is it just imparting knowledge? Or something more?
Respected teachers and my dear friends,
I stand here today to oppose the topic, “Schools of tomorrow will have no teachers or books.”
Let me try to answer the question about the purpose of education. If it is imparting of knowledge alone; it is a short-sighted goal indeed. What about character formation? What about values like honesty, punctuality, discipline, and respect? These are learned in school in the early years. It has stayed with us; and I am sure will stay with children in future too.
But the argument is that in future when attendance is marked in class, both teachers and books will be missing. I wonder who dreamed about this improbable idea!
Let me ask again: How did the world get the gift of such a fine mind like Helen Keller? Was it not Anne Sullivan’s patient encouragement? And to those who are not aware, Ann Sullivan was the teacher of the blind, deaf and mute genius Helen Keller. And you still want to argue that there will be no teachers in future? Or read the autobiography Wings of Fire. There you will find the missile man of India, the late President Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam paying glowing tributes to the teachers who influenced him to dream big.
When you think about schools, I request you all not to just to think about schools for normal kids alone. What about children who are specially or differently abled? Do you think that such children can come into the mainstream of society without teachers or books? Or do you plan to totally ignore this special group of otherwise talented kids for the sake of embracing the bleeding edge developments in science and technology? Think about it.
“No more teachers or books” means just one thing. There will be many a graveyard and valley of dry bones in the world where the unfulfilled potential of children will lie buried. Great talent that went unnoticed. Great torches that went unlit because there was no one to light the spark. Do you still wish to entertain the foolishness that in future, schools will have no teachers? I pity you!
Now let me come to books. Just take a look at Amazon where one of the largest percentage of books are being purchased online. Printed books have not died out just because ebooks are the in thing today. Neither has reading of books taken a downward plunge in spite of all the information and entertainment available in the internet at your finger tips.
My dear friends, books are not just storehouses of knowledge. They are our companions. There is a nostalgic flavour to the reading of books that no futuristic classroom can do away with.
Let me take you to yet another field. Sports and games. In spite of all the modern technology available why do individual players and teams have coaches? It is simply because the personal care of a teacher and mentoring cannot be substituted by anything else. So also future schools of tomorrow cannot do away with teachers.
Let me conclude. Many of the problems teenagers face today cannot be solved by artificial intelligence or smart classrooms. Relationship issues, substance abuse, stress because of broken homes, the search for meaning of life are part and parcel of young lives. Do you think absence of teachers are going to help them in any way? Or do you think more smart gadgets and smarter apps are going to make youngsters have better emotional quotient?
My dear friends, schools of tomorrow will continue to have better teachers and inspiring books as well. Thank you.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth