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Publish Date: 10-Oct-2020 04:53:21

IS IT THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT? LOCKDOWN! QUARANTINE! SOCIAL DISTANCING! MASKS AND SANTITIZERS! Unused, unheard -- these words seem to define our World today! Outings and Vacations – Locked Restaurants and Clubs -- Locked Mall and Movies – Locked Schools and Colleges – Locked Fashion and Luxuries – Locked Socializing has become Social Distancing. Caring and loving is keeping distance and not hugs and kisses anymore. I wonder whatever happened to --- Man is a social animal!!! The SOCIAL will definitely take on a new definition post COVID 19. Yes, the World as we know it (rather as we knew it) is over! There are going to be new regulations for everything around us – Social norms, Economic norms, Cultural norms, Academic Norms all are going to be remodeled and redefined for the new era that we shall step into once we are free again. Most changes in the World orders have been gradual, planned, sustained and progressive. “Change is the only Constant” is an age old cliché, yet when it happens so suddenly as it has happened now, it takes everyone by surprise and is not always welcome. The Social Animal is being forced to stay locked in, away from friends, family, colleagues. The frustrations are growing in each one. The overly popular social media is also no longer satisfying the needs of fellowship and interaction with others. But, the question is that once we are free – Will it be back to how things were? Hugging, embracing and kissing might be not allowed – the famous high fives might also become taboo. It all makes you wonder if all that improbable imagination, we made fun of and laughed about, in the SCI-FI Armageddon themed Movies is becoming a living reality ? Scary thought, but a thought worth pondering! How does this manifest into Academics of the future? For starters – Will Schooling still be done in buildings? Or Will the Classroom have ‘social distance’ marked cubicles for each child? Will the notebook get replaced by the Electronic NOTEBOOK? Will the timings for Classes vary for each level of School? Will masks be a part of Uniform? Will there even be a cafeteria time or Lunch break? What about physical and social activities? – Athletics, Sports, Games, Singing in choirs, Dancing in groups, Street Art sessions, Music Bands etc etc.. …. And Higher Education? Will it be Online? What will “College life” mean? Where will the youth develop their political ideologies? Where will they let out their voices in protest? What about the Socials, Proms, Farewell Parties etc? How will they happen? The very questions make you shudder and fear the future for our children, but as humankind has proved over time, all is not lost. We have hope as long as we are prepared to embrace the changes. Resilience is the first step towards evolution. When Darwin talked about “Survival of the Fittest” he wasn’t referring to just the BEST in appearance or genetic makeup – MOST resilient was also part of the profile for the fittest! Resistance on the other hand, is only going to cause pain, tragedies and more pandemics. The grim condition of our planet is proof to our resistance to change and evolve in the past. The needs and greed of our generation has brought us to this crossroad. We can either chose to be resilient and change or perish in our arrogance. This acceptance for change will have to come through new norms of Education! The idea of mass production of graduates and post graduates will need to be reconsidered. Our end purpose and objectives of Education will need to be revised. Education will no longer be to provide skilled labour but to provide capable workers in the fields of empathy, counseling, guidance, recreation, inventions, innovations and critical thinking. The new era will need to have creative, stand alone, innovative individuals who can exercise their critically tuned grey cells to model the resources available and solve issues and problems that confront them. The times of jumping the bandwagon are over. It may sound selfish to some, but, it’s the advent of an era of individual abilities coming together for the common good. This change can only be realized if the entire system of evaluation and competition take on a new meaning. Performances in examinations that define progress in academics or cut throat competition between batch mates for positions will have to be cliché. Do not mistake this as a disregard for the system. Evaluation is needed and is very essential. Competition is the very crux of our existence. Our entire classroom teaching is designed according to the end of term tests and evaluation patterns. Thus, what we need to do is evolve these two essential paradigms of the education system. We need to change not only what is evaluated but how it is evaluated. Our purpose of competition will have to be to bring out the best in each person and not to select the best person. Ability, creativity and interest will have to take precedence over grades, marks and positions. We will have to teach the next generation to be fiercely individualistic while working for the common goal. Protect their atypical nature and yet collaborate for solutions. Sounds improbable yet not impossible! But then nothing today is normal! So in the future, whether we are in a building or stuck in a small cubicle for our education, let us ensure thoughts, plans and innovative ideas of our descendants find flight and create a World MUCH better than this one. And to that effect I am pleased that it is the end of the World as we know it !!

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