The world has changed and the education system has to reflect that change. Earlier, information was hard to access and distribute. Now it’s possible to, quite cheaply, have all the information that we need out there. You don’t have to memorise when the first battle of Panipat happened — just go to Wikipedia and it’s all out there. One search and it gets you right there. You have YouTube, Khan Academy, you have US universities like MIT, Harvard spending tens of millions of dollars putting their lectures online.
The role of the system is therefore to teach students how to learn and how to critically evaluate information. Rote learning is not at all useful in a context where facts are easily available, but understanding what the implications of facts are is what matters. In fact, if you look at many of us as parents, especially when I look in Bombay, at some of my colleagues, we all have gone through the rote learning system in India, we have all done professionally very well, but given the choice, we want to send our kids to ‘IB’ schools.
There is a much wider set of learning that is taking place, and in a way it is reflective of how we are seeing the world change outside. These are a set of skills that are important in the world going forward. There’s a book I was reading recently ‘The Art of the Sale’, and in there towards the end, a friend of the author asks the author “ You have a young kid, if you were to die tomorrow and you wanted your kid to know one ability, what would it be?” And the author answers, “The art of Selling.” He says it is all about — a lot of what you’re doing here — persuading. Even here, over the next two days, the idea is to try and persuade different people to a set of ideas which we can then go out and implement. Is that taught in schools and colleges? Not really.