Idealists believe that the purpose of education is to equip one with tools to live a good and meaningful life. The reality closer home is that it is considered first and foremost a stepping stone to a good career.
In a world where the nature of jobs is changing fast due to better connectivity, automation and developments in artificial intelligence, it becomes difficult to be prescriptive in our education objectives.
We need to help students build skills that will allow them to learn, unlearn and relearn rapidly. Making education multi-dimensional means opening up the minds of the students to learn things outside the classroom, giving them different perspectives and making them aware of things that will improve their thinking process.
In order to achieve this objective, educators need to make sure that students study multiple subjects and are able to draw out connections between them. Along with practical examples and applied projects, a holistic learning allows students to establish a broad base across liberal arts and sciences before choosing to specialise in a given area.
Let us look at a few examples:
Love for cartoons can lead to interest in Mathematics: Young children love animated movies and are entertained by them. People generally assume that such animations are possible due to “powerful computers”. The reality is a little more nuanced – it is applied mathematics! Multi-dimensional learning, in this context, means connecting these diverse domains in order to make our regular subjects more interesting. Kids may hate math but love movies or playing games, but once you explain the connection between mathematics and animation, you are likely to see a change in their attitude towards mathematics.
Study of insects and its association with economics and environment: Forget entertainment. While playing in the garden, you may be bitten by insects and you end up wishing to have a large can of pesticide to kill all the bugs in the world. But would you imagine that doing that would ensure that you become poorer?
Cornell University scientists have estimated that these little creatures contribute to about $ 57 billion a year to the US economy alone! And I am not even talking about the impact on ecology – humankind will become endangered in almost no time without them. Therefore, for a student studying biology, it would also be interesting to learn about the impact of insects on ecology and economy, rather than just studying about its body parts.
Multidimensional education develops curiosity and creativity amongst students by building bridges between subjects and not isolating them into silos. It is an expression of the real world as a whole and the interactions between different subjects and topics. It therefore will lead to a better appreciation of things and therefore, better learning outcomes.
(The writer is co-founder, ACadru)