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TECH TALK: Multi-Model Minds: Correcting Education

February 11th, 2005 · No Comments

While each of us can alter and build our own multiple models, it is an uphill struggle once we are past the initial years in educational institutions. We stand at the crossroads in India. We have the advantage of demographics on our side. We need to address the twin challenges of educating Indias youth and doing it right. Education done right can be Indias biggest change agent. Conversely, putting people with limited and incomplete mental models in decision-making positions can worsen the situation dramatically.

So, what does it take for us to fix the problem at the source? Atanu Dey wrote about how to re-invent the education system recently on his blog:

I think that at a minimum, an educational system must teach people how to think. How to fast and how to wait would be good but perhaps it is too much to ask for right now. Does such a system exist anywhere in the world? I don’t know for sure but I doubt it very sincerely. I realize of course that there are people who have gone through the current educational systems and they are also able to think. But I would be wary of ascribing that result to the present setup. It is more likely that despite the present system, those people have learnt how to think.

I believe that learning how to think may be something alike to learning a language. It appears that we have a language learning sub-system in our brains which shuts down sometime around age 12 or so. Before reaching that age, you can very easily learn languages; after that, learning languages is extremely hard. So also, I believe that if you catch a kid early enough, you can teach him or her to think. It is as if the brain circuits are just a lot of firmware in early childhood and then as one grows up, the firmware hardens and become hardware that cannot be re-programmed.

Here is my prescription for a good education. Focus primarily on teaching how to think and on teaching people how to learn. Teaching how to think is like giving kids a very high powered CPU. Teaching them how to learn gives them control of a very broadband channel through which they can have access to content that the CPU can process. Alternative analogy: good thinking skills is like have a good operating system. And good learning skills is like having a great set of applications.

A multi-model mind can be our greatest asset as we seek to build both our careers and the new India around us. But for that to happen, we will have to shed some of the baggage from the past and that is not going to be easy. We need to make a start with the world inside us, and then the outside. We have the benefit of technological revolutions that are happening around us giving us the ability to compress time — we dont have a generation to effect this change.

Recommended Reading:

  • My earlier Tech Talk series: My Mental Model
  • Atanu Deys Blog
  • Robert Hagstrom, Investing: The Last Liberal Art


    TECH TALK Multi-Model Minds+T

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