MIT Interview with Dr R A Mashelkar – Shruti Namjoshi

In Conversation
With Dr. Raghunath A Mashelkar-National Research Professor and President- National Teachers’ Congress-2019


Dr. Mashelkar: India will have to move from `right to education’ to `right education’ to `right way of education’ in view of the great disruption that digital exponential technology is going to create. So we need teachers, who will be able to use right way of education to provide right education.

First on right education. A recent report by U.S. Department of Labour said that almost two thirds of the senior school going children will be doing jobs that do not exist today. So how does our education system prepare our students for jobs that don’t exist today? That requires visionary thinking.
No matter what disruptions take place with newly emerging technologies that can’t be predicted today, there will be five skills that will have an evergreen value.

First, dealing with complexity. Second, critical thinking. Third, creativity. Fourth, emotional intelligence. Fifth ability of co-working, co-creation, and that too with both men and machine together. The right education system for new India should be geared to that. So again, we need teachers, who will be able to prepare students with these five skills.

To my mind, this is what future ready higher education is going to be.

Q. How do you suppose a ‘change’ can be reinforced? How do various session Themes & Sub-Themes Address these?

Dr. Mashelkar: It is not just the change but the rate of rate of change that is going to matter.

I recommend few shifts that are required in our education system.
Coming to your question, the various Themes and Sub Themes should touch upon these ‘shifts’ during the course of discussions.

The 10 Major Shifts for Students

1. Completing to Creating (Previously the only objective of the student was to complete the homework given, now it’s more about creating something new.)

2. From Passive to Active Learning. (Passive is what happens when there’s a one way communication and rest of the class listens and takes notes, active is an interactive classroom)

3. Consuming to Producing (Presently, students are consumers of knowledge resource created for decades, they have now to participate in producing it)

4. Memorizing to Processing (Previously it was all about merely memorizing and just reproducing – now it is about processing for deep learning and not just storing.)

5. Replicating to Creation (The previous culture of `copy everything that you see or can’ has to be replaced by creation of new ideas, concepts, knowledge)

6. Isolation to Collaboration (students were all working individually – now they should be co-working with a team)

7. Marching to Reflecting: (Rather than being one to follow without thinking as when the army marches, one now needs to think and reflect)

8. From Rigid to Fluid (Rigid curricula and structures to open, flexible and dynamic ones)

9. Dependent to Autonomous. (From being dependent on top hierarchical authority to having distributed power)

10. From Answering to Asking (Teachers would ask and students would answer – now the process will have to be reversed as students will know more, thanks to easy, affordable access to knowledge)

The 10 Major Shifts for Teachers

For Teachers, some of the major shifts that are already occurring world over are –

1. Teacher Centric to Student Centric (From teachers deciding and dictating what’s good for the students, irrespective of student needs to tailoring to individual student needs)

2. Telling to Listening (In digital world, students will come to class already prepared, so no use teaching them what they have already learned, teachers will have to listen and learn)

3. Mass production to Mass customization: (One size fits all approach in terms of content and delivery to customizing learning modules for each student according to his capacity)

4. Linear to Multiple Streams of Education (single degrees in narrow specification to multiplicity and diverse disciplines)

5. From being a Presenter to being a Facilitator (Teachers going from mere presenters of knowledge to being facilitators of interactive learning among knowledge rich students)

6. From Compliance to Divergence (Rather than compliance with fixated processes and structures, need based dynamic divergence processes)

7. Scarcity to Abundance (knowledge restricted previously to books in library with limited access to now full access on a smartphone in one’s pocket)

8. From being Content Experts to Process Experts (content freely available, the process of delivering the content will be critical)

9. From collecting the dots to connecting the dots (Rather than students just being taught to collect information, now they will have to be able connect even seemingly different facts and figures)

10. Instructor to conductor (Rather than just giving education as instruction, teacher will play a role of a conductor of an orchestra, where students will be co-working and co-creating).

Q. Some of the Speakers at NTC 2019 are referring to IR 4.0, Education 2.0, and Science 2.0, how are these integral to the ‘Change’ we are referring?

Dr. Mashelkar: My recent book which is going to be launched on the day our conference, i.e. 4 January, speaks of ‘Leapfrogging to Pole-vaulting’. We cannot Pole-vault given the complexities, but we can certainly Leapfrog, therefore the theme is presently restricted to leap frogging.

This is the link we discuss during the session on ‘Future Ready Right Education: Right Way of Higher Education’ to which I have made an early reference. So I don’t have to go to a Library anymore, the entire library is accessible to me in the mobile in one’s pocket. There is no need for me to work 9 to 5, I can work 24 X 7 and plan my day to shift my lifestyle.

We have moved from Education 1.0 (Gurukul System, one-to-one learning with monopoly of few) to Education 2.0 (Assembly Line learning suited to Industrial Era, one teacher and 100 students) to Education 3.0 (Computerization era and the present digital disruption).

Incidentally education 3.0 will have a different `right way of education’. Our current ways will have to change dramatically to the third paradigm of education, where information memorisation and brute force recall will be made irrelevant. From `brain as storage’ to `brain as an intelligent processor’ will become the norm. Rich formatted content, flipped classrooms, and research material from the best faculty on a subject will be available for free. On demand tutoring, P2P learning, personalised and generative course structure and sequencing to meet the individual needs will be the order of the day.

So Education cannot be considered in Isolation. We have to look at Education 3.0. Industry 4.0, Science 2.0 and beyond all in a connected realm.

Q. What are the Methods? How far do Faculty Development Programs help?

Dr. Mashelkar: The challenge will be for the old teachers to transform their old ways of teaching and adapt to new changes. You cannot devalue or disregard their experience. No. You cannot replace people overnight. That’s not the solution. But how do you make them active participants and leaders of this process transformation.

Therefore, when we speak of leapfrogging, the methodology itself requires Innovation. The mindsets have to change. Students will adapt fast. Teachers have to change to match or exceed their speed. Will carrot and stick approach work or does it require self-motivation and self-discipline? I would prefer the latter. What should be the metrics of measuring performance of the teachers in this digital era-that needs to change? Paranter like teacher to student rates will loose a meaning because one digital teacher can teach a million students!

What we require is “Education in Innovation and Innovation in Education”. That’s the need of the hour. Teachers will have to constantly think of what Innovations can one bring in one’s teaching. Process of `Best Practices’ has to be moved to `Next Practices’.

*The interview is written and reproduced by Ms. Shruti Namjoshi-Sr. Corporate Communications Manager-MITWPU based on insights received during NTC Conveners Meeting with Hon’ble Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar.