The Forward-Looking Growth of Education in India
A conversation with experts Dr. Michael Hart and Devishobha Chandramouli
International literacy expert, entrepreneur, consultant, and founder of True Literacy, Dr. Michael Hart, and Devishobha Chandramouli founder & CEO of Kidskintha, a global parenting and education collective, sat down with Dr. Rod Berger to discuss the shifts in learning taking place in India, the United States and around the world. As an advocate of global literacy, Dr. Hart discussed his prior travels to India, where he immersed himself in the country’s learning efforts while connecting with Devishobha’s ongoing work with kids.
According to Dr. Hart, there is a built-in demand for meaningful information in India’s education system. Coupled with a drive for learning, it’s an environment less politicized than the one found in the United States. “It’s extra special in India because they’re so awake and alive with regard to how important education is for kids and the different types of learning and organizing. They’re incredible with leveraging the technology that’s available now. I think they’re really adept at being able to use the technology to create communities, disseminate information, and pull together in a way that is beneficial for the whole country,” he says.
For many in India, education is a gateway or path to a better life. Devishobha points to India’s independence a mere 70 years ago as an influence in encouraging children to look forward and succeed. Added to the forward growth is a country deeply steeped in cultural connectedness. “We are a culture that is very hardwired into mingling with other cultures. We don’t have any qualms mixing with people of diverse cultures or languages. That’s one big advantage [for] Indian children. Every child in India, including my own children, could speak four languages by the time they were five,” she says. It’s a significant advantage for kids in India who must remain resourceful in an environment that often lacks resources. Devishobha adds, “We’ve realized the importance of leapfrogging, [creating] our own potential, connecting with other people, and crossing the chasm.”
The “crossing the chasm” concept is most critical to Dr. Hart as he has witnessed a culture in India hungry for science-based content and information centered on best practices. Unfortunately, it’s the affordability factor that needs the most addressing. “To me, affordability is a big deal. I think a lot of people from outside of India come in and try to sell products or services at a cost that doesn’t make sense within the context of [their] economy,” says Dr. Hart. “A major value is to make sure that they have access to all kinds of content for free. Also, If there’s something connected to direct consulting or classes, you have to be cognizant that it’s much better to price it at a level that makes it available to everybody.”
Looking at education moving forward, Dr. Hart points to solving the digital divide, and the ongoing pandemic serves to remind all of us of the need to address current digital deficits. Dr. Hart believes this is the perfect time to concentrate on the global digital divide. “There are large chunks of the world where young people just don’t have access to the technology that allows them to compete and get educated at the same level as other people who have more resources. We’re all trying to figure out several different initiatives to collapse that digital divide and make sure that kids have access to everything including technology, even in the most rural areas. That, to me, is a big deal.” he says.
Dr. Hart ties in the importance of strengths-based focus versus a deficit-based focus for kids. “Right now, what we do is we think what’s wrong with these kids? What do we need to fix?” he remarks. “They’re coming in with all kinds of problems, and we focus on the problems. Whether it’s lower socio-economic status or learning disabilities, it’s all looked at in a deficit way.” Instead of looking at the deficits, it’s important to accentuate the positive so kids, especially those with learning disabilities, can begin to feel they have something to bring to the table. He adds, “That’s a huge philosophical shift that can begin to happen as we do this major pandemic reset.”
Devishobha equally shares the need to address the digital divide and take full advantage of a pandemic reset to bring about strengths-based learning. She has produced resources in the form of lighthearted conversations coined Chaiversations that touch on strengths learning while disseminating information and resources to parents and educators. “The strengths-based focus should [be] getting us back to our roots, recognizing what we already have, and then also trying to get the right balance between what we can offer, and what we can [receive] from the rest of the world.”
About Dr. Michael Hart
Michael Hart, Ph.D. is a child psychologist with 25 years of experience in the diagnostic assessment and treatment of a full range of learning differences, including dyslexia and (AD/HD). He is the founder/owner of www.drmichaelhart.com and is currently providing webinars, online courses and onsite presentations/training for parents regarding the proper educational care of our dyslexic students.
Prior to his current role, Dr. Hart served as a clinical psychologist, educational administrator and expert witness for learning disabled students in various settings including pediatric inpatient psychiatry, outpatient psychiatry, private practice and K-12 school settings.
During his practice, he administered the full spectrum of psychological tests, behavioral assessment tools, affective inventories, projective tests, academic achievement tests and behavioral interviews. His experience spans from infants to adults and he has conducted approximately 1000 evaluations.
Michael is intensely focused on supporting parents as they become better informed and more experienced in the effective treatment and care of our dyslexic students.
Follow Dr. Michael Hart on Twitter @drmichaelhart
About Devishobha Chandramouli
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha – a global parenting and education collective, and the host of the global virtual conferences hosted on the platform, one of them hosted in collaboration with UNESCO. You can also find her voice on the Huffington Post, Mother.ly, Entrepreneur, LifeHack, TinyBuddha, Thought Catalog and many other publications.
Follow Devishobha Chandramouli on Twitter @kidskintha