IS OUR EDUCATION BRIDGES TO NOWHERE?

The Choluteca Bridge is a suspension bridge located in Choluteca, Honduras. Originally constructed in 1930, the bridge was rebuilt in 1996. The Honduras government, knowing the bridge was likely to face extreme weather conditions, commissioned the best architectural minds in the world to build a state-of-the-art bridge that could withstand any hurricane. Robust, sturdy and sure to survive, the bridge faired exactly as planned when Hurricane Mitch hit in 1998. While other bridges, buildings, and roads were destroyed, Choluteca Bridge continued to stand, a testament to its structurally intended permanence.

There was just one problem…

While Choluteca stood still, firm, unchanging – exactly as the architects had planned, the river that flowed under the bridge had moved, changing its course, and the roads leading to and from it were destroyed. What had once seemed like state-of-the-art construction could not adapt to the new environment and was rendered useless. The strong, unbreakable bridge was going to nowhere.

Choluteca Bridge can teach us an important lesson. A lesson in what happens when we cannot adapt. It is also an excellent metaphor for our education system and a sign of what lies ahead if we stay stuck in current modes of education that serve antiquated purposes.

Today, the world has changed its course. The education systems around the world have become ‘Bridges to Nowhere.’ We can no longer educate our children by dividing them into batches/classes/sections and controlling their lives by ringing bells as was done during the industrial age. Most of the learning today is inauthentic. It just relies on memorization and rote learning. There is no room for developing one’s own passions and interests.

We need people who can think creatively, critically, innovatively, independently with the ability to connect, who can communicate their ideas and who can collaborate with others.

The need of the hour is an education system which is new and resilient that prepares students for a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. A system that develops conscientiousness, adaptability, critical thinking, active citizenry, and an appreciation of nature and the surroundings in which they operate.

The New Education Policy, I believe, is a road map to a world that is constantly changing its course. As teachers, we need to be prepared to enter into these uncertainties and make ourselves relevant for our students.

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