Classrooms are the temples of learning. Along with one’s family, society and surroundings, classrooms help shape the kind of individual one becomes. They are the window to success and the key to unlocking a child’s potential. They help introduce children to the world around them, help identify their talent, hone it and sculpt it in the best possible manner. Therefore, it is rightly said that the destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms.
From history, we get to know about the emphasis people laid on classrooms and the benefits they reaped from it. The ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, for instance, was renowned all over Central Asia and had established strong trading relations with Central Asian civilisations of Mesopotamia, Babylon, etc. This was primarily possible because of the classrooms of the time. Though the classic definition of a classroom continues to change, however, its underlying principle helps us define it in the following manner—a centre of learning. While it has taken the shape of concrete rooms with amenities like desks, blackboard, laboratories and e-classrooms in the present time, it can be presumed to have had a somewhat archaic structure thousands of years ago. What made the Indus Valley Civilisation stand out was the level of development it had achieved compared to its contemporary civilisations. The formal/informal centres of learning helped the inhabitants of Indus Valley to discover all the possible metals, alloys, invent the iron plough, seals and most of all, a script of their own. The destiny of the civilisation was shaped in its classrooms to such a level that even today people from all around the world read about the civilisation, come to visit the sites and are held spellbound by its ingenious, precise and well thought-out architectural planning.
The Vedic Civilisation has also carved a niche for itself and has found a permanent place in the history books all around the world. Their classrooms made it possible for the wise men of the time to compose the ‘Vedas’, ‘Upanishads’, ‘Samhitas’ that are praised and practised even today. Even though the education imparted as part of Vedic literature resulted in the four-fold division of the society and institutionalised the Varna system, it shaped the society’s destiny, irrespective whether for good or bad.
The Gupta Age is popularly known for its art and architecture that reached its pinnacle during this period. However, this would not have been possible had a major emphasis on the development of art and architecture not been laid appropriately via classrooms.
History is a testimony to the fact that the greatness of any civilisation, region, empire, era, epoch or period is essentially based on how well-structured are its classrooms. Though it is not necessary for classes to be the dens of scientific learning only, learning of any kind is applicable so long as it liberates one’s mind and propels individuals to attain their full potential and reach great heights in their respective fields.
We have all heard and read, at one point or the other about the Indian national freedom struggle and how the Indian freedom fighters fought tooth and nail to liberate the motherland from the shackles of colonial powers. The classrooms of the colonial times also played a role in the propagation of the nationalistic fervour that permeated the freedom struggle. This development took place despite the fact that the educational system was designed by the British to aid their colonial rule by cutting down on administrative expenditure. The British wanted a class of Indians who might be interpreters between British and the millions whom they governed; a class of persons Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect, as reiterated by Macaulay.
The incredibly powerful tool of education was smartly used by the young Indians to educate and liberate their minds. They read extensively about the Russian Nihilist Movement, Russian Revolution, Irish Revolution, nationalist movements in colonies of European powers like Egypt, China, Indonesia and understood the power of the masses and the power of unity. This way they interpreted the strategies of the British Empire and demystified their claims of British superiority. It can be said that the genesis of the freedom struggle lay in the educated Indians who, with the help of the classrooms of the day would discuss, debate, propagate the ideas and strategies of attaining Swaraj/self-government. Thus the destiny of India and the route to achieving independence had its genesis partly in the classrooms of the time. Today we find the classrooms acquiring a somewhat broadened meaning. Today the classes are not mere institutes of education but a window to develop one’s personality and achieve the highest potential of self. They help shape the destiny of nations. The level of development of a nation today is seen in proportion to how developed the nation’s educational institutes are. It is often seen that the more developed a country is, the better are its classrooms. States like Jammu and Kashmir support this argument. The deplorable condition of the state can be partly attributed to its partially occupied classrooms, dilapidated educational structure and so on. The same holds true for India’s red-corridor states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and parts of North-East. The destiny of these states can to a great extent be improved if their classrooms are revamped. Classrooms help channelise the energies of the youth in a positive direction thereby helping shape the destiny of the state.
In modern times, we often hear about the Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and their unstoppable growth. One of the major attributes towards the growth of MNC’s is the multinational culture that allows them to employ the best of the minds from multiple nations. These bright minds who bring with them the learnings from a wide array of educational systems and make use of a variety of ideas, innovations and perspectives to shape the destiny of the MNC. Thus, the basic idea of an MNC revolves around the concept of classrooms and their significance.
Though we do understand the importance of classrooms and how they help shape the destiny of a nation, it does not mean that the classrooms of the world in general and that of India, in particular, are efficient. According to studies, the idea of a classroom in India is circumvented by the ill-structured educational system that has plagued the nation. More focus on the theoretical aspect of education rather than on the practical aspect is making the Indian education system boring, less competitive and old-school. In addition to this, it is restricting the imaginative abilities of the children by discouraging practical training. The government has from time to time come up with programmes that help bridge this gap. They include the Atal Tinkering Laboratories for fostering curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds, Mid-Day Meal scheme, opening up of ITI’s to private industry etc. However, poor implementation of these schemes has ensured that they have not achieved the desired benefit. The Right To Education Act passed in 2009 still has lacunae as
indicated by the child literacy reports. Similarly, as per the ASER report on Education, the level of rural education penetration is on the lower end of the spectrum in India.
Going back in history, we realise the crucial contribution that classrooms have played in making India stand out among other civilisations and nations. It is safe to say that the destiny of India has been shaped in its ever-evolving classrooms. Classrooms have been the crucible which has given rise to inventions, thoughts and ideas that have changed the course of humanity and even history. Therefore, these institutions need to be nurtured and provided with the right ingredients for growth to ensure the prosperity and continuity of a nation.