August 2017 By T A Balasubramaniam The Pedagogical Life: Essays on Educating Indiaby Ashok Pandey, Sheriden Book Company, Hardcover INR395; Pages 134 The vast population of India has been denied access to education, and, by implication, an opportunity for economic and social upliftment. Inclusivity, expansion and quality are the foremost needs of our times. A society with huge inequalities in educational access and opportunities cannot aspire for peace and prosperity.” How can educators become adept at building inclusivity, expansion and quality in the education system, and thereby address these inequalities? That’s the primary question addressed by this earnest and practical compilation of the many facets of the educational system in India. It is a rich collection of essays and musings that draws upon the author’s administrative experience in the professional development of teachers and teaching methods for over three decades. What drives Ashok Pandey to share his insights and learning is a passion for 'enlightened' teaching. He has headed the Delhi based Ahlcon International School, since 2001. The book’s four chapters address issues relating to value education, preparing teachers, developing systemic improvements and an assortment of exploratory solutions for educational transformation. Value education, according to Pandey, is best nurtured by systemically turning education into the art of collaborative mentoring and nurturing of young minds. He suggests that educators should adapt modern technologies and, at the same time, explore ways to nurture the rich heritage of India’s ancient pedagogical methods, such as storytelling. In teacher preparedness, he suggests that teachers should be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn as times change. Their focus needs to shift from lecturing to coaching young minds, and creating a Socratic dialogue orientation for older children. Education needs to shift from "a teacher-driven to a learner-centric approach.” The book is, as the sub-title says, a collection of essays in educating India, and it amply covers a variety of approaches to provide appropriate learning opportunities and nurturing environments, particularly for those who are closely involved with the education systems. For teachers and those who aspire to contribute to the field of education, this is a very useful source of inspiration and guidance. However, even if you are merely curious about effective teaching and how best to improve your capacity to nurture young minds, this is a valuable trove of musings and wise insights from an experienced educator.
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