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Education is an effort of the senior people to transfer their knowledge to the younger members of society. It is thus an institution, which plays a vital role in integrating an individual with his society and in maintaining the perpetuation of culture. Emile Durkheim defines education as “the influence exercised by the adult generation upon those who are not yet ready for adult life”.
He further maintains that “society can survive only if there exists among its members a sufficient degree of homogeneity. The homogeneity is perpetuated and reinforced by education. A child through education learns basic rules, regulations, norms and values of society”.
Education thus is an essential prerequisite of modernization. It enables people to know the world beyond their own surroundings and transforms them to become rationalist and humanist in outlook and world view. However, it has to be kept in mind that the education has got modernized and in turn is contributing to the process of modernization of the Indian society.
The traditional education system of India was quite different from the contemporary one. In traditional Indian society, the number of educational institutions was too small and the content of education was esoteric and essentially related with religion, philosophy, metaphysics and scriptural subjects.
The education was confined to the ‘twice-born’ castes and the upper classes. The organizational structure was ascriptive and hereditary. The lower castes, particularly the scheduled castes, were denied education. Even today, the Madrassah education among Muslims is largely based on religion, philosophy and scriptural messages. Shishu Mandirs also have religion and tradition as parts of curriculum.
Modern education is exoteric, open and liberal. The world-view is scientific-rational; the theme consists of freedom, equality, humanism and denial of faith in dogma and superstitions. The course contents are rationalistic and in tune with the needs of the present-day society.
Science and technology, grammar and literature, social philosophy, history and culture, geography and ecology, agriculture and horticulture comprise the vast range of subjects which are taught in schools, colleges and universities.
The modern education lays emphasis on the subjects like freedom, nationality, law, human rights, democracy and scientific world view. The other parts of education are the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, which are often organized for total personality development of a student.
The modern education is change-oriented and, therefore, courses are modified time and again corresponding to the changes taking place in society at large so as to keep pace with the needs of the changing situations in the wake of fast-changing industrial society.
The present industrial society has opened up a multiplicity of occupations and professions and each one of them is associated with scientific knowledge and skills. It is a society of complex division of labour and requires people with specialized knowledge.
The modern education fulfills needs of the industrial economy. A vast range of subjects like medicine, health, engineering, management and law have become hot areas of professionalization and specialization today.
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