Beyond the 3 ‘R’s…
As the world frantically tweets and chirps and blogs and uploads and posts to create instant notifications, instant gratification and instant news, it allows for the basic human need to be heard and be seen.
From this melee of information overload, emerges a cacophony of voices that clamor for attention and action. At some point in this game or continuous exchange of thoughts and ideas, each one of us makes decisions on what from this confusing smorgasbord, requires an immediate response, reactive offense, proactive defense, or just a “let’s sit back and watch this,” non-interference mode.
Gleaning through this mountain of information, good, bad, ugly, detailed, trivial, significant, or non-essential, requires us as adults, to have the basic knowledge and skills to sift and process, that which is critical for our wellbeing. More importantly, however, it requires us to honor our own moral or value system compass, to assess and empower our ability to live and learn.
What then do our children need to succeed? Their ability to manipulate clouds, digital content and cyberspace, far exceeds ours. The concept of classrooms, chalkboards, books and binders has transformed magically into laptops , tablets, kindles and iPads, or better still, iPhones.
But what has not changed are the basic Rs… “Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic” are still as relevant today as they were a century ago. They are what brought us to this age of “the cloud” and they are what will take us, as a nation at the cutting edge, to the next frontier.
The ability to read and write good literature, albeit on a Kindle, is the only way to move a society forward with ideas and ideology. The ability to master “rithmetic will take us to Mars and beyond. Unquestionably, the basic skill set remains as relevant, even if its teaching methodology has shifted paradigms. To those of us as the Indian diaspora, the value of a basic education is unquestionable and sacred.
But in today’s rapidly changing world, beyond the basic skills, how relevant is our education, how rigorous and eventually, how reflective? In the image of the world which is now a flat, level playing field, is the education we are imparting culturally relevant? Do we provide our children with historical perspectives and teach them to analyze continuously unfolding and evolving issues in the world?
If we have advanced at astronomical speed past the space age into “clouds,” does our basic education continue to provide the rigor and inspiration to forge ahead and conquer barriers to science, technology and medicine? The US lags abysmally behind the world in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and immediate intervention into current curricula begs attention. With the tremendous storehouse of knowledge that Indo Americans bring in these fields, it is critical that we step forward to contribute in any way we can.
And finally, is Education really reflective? Is it reflective of the moral compass and ideological value system that we hold dear in a democracy? Does it engage our children to focus on a common cause and find solutions that work in productive ways, rather than create destructive forces that will continue to implode? Education that will continue to inspire the love of freedom, courage, empowerment, rather than appeasement of the weak, and a forward thinking vision that is strong enough to shine the light on the “greater good.”
As a community that must hold education as the first key to success, it can only follow that we must remain involved every step of the way to ensure that the sanctity of that which we hold so dear, stays intact.
“The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Sonal Bhuchar is a physical therapist and long standing community volunteer. She is the Past President of FBISDs Board of Trustees and is finishing her second term. She has served in numerous leadership roles and is now running for the Texas House of Representatives HD 26. She is married to Dr. Subodh Bhuchar and has three children. They have lived and worked in Sugar Land for the last two decades.