Even though the phrase Adjectival Education might sound foreign to our tongues, it is something that has been a consistent part, rather the defining characteristic of the Indian education system, as it is today. Adjectival education is the kind of education that focuses mainly on defining the crux of the matter by merely describing words instead of delving into the concepts. In simple words, ‘Adjectival Education’ means adding adjectives like ‘Climate Change’, ’Gender’, ‘Environment’ with education to contextualize it.
All of us, in our junior high classes, have had subjects like Environmental Sciences which talked about pollution, global warming, deforestation and types of pollution. We would have also seen the small yellow ‘did you know’ box in the chapter built around the topic of pollution that would say ‘The yellowing of the Taj Mahal is due to acid rain’.
What is achieved by adding these few yellow boxes every here and there, or these small chapters at the end of the book? Do they contribute to the learning process?
The only reason one ever studied the pollution chapter at the end of one’s chemistry books was to score higher grades in the subject because those chapters took less effort to cover. Even then, most of us neglected those fact-lending ‘Did you Know’ boxes with different characters (Bhoojo and Paheli) talking to each other because those facts never really made it to the test papers. Everyone knew the trend, no one ever bothered to take up the extra learning.
Economics teachers are known to use words like ‘poverty’ and ‘hunger’ to teach economic concepts (take a trip down the memory lane to class 10), but it usually has little to do with ‘hunger’ or ‘poverty’ and more to do with the economic concept that they need to explain. These words play the role of describing words without any connotations or consequences. This is because the primary goal of the examples they are taking up is not to make you well versed with the adjectives used in the subject. In the end, the use of poverty and hunger is just a method of helping you understand a concept instead of making you well versed with the concept, challenges, connotations, consequences and outspread of poverty and hunger itself.
Topics like Sustainable Development suffer a lot at the hands of Adjectival Education.
The concept, pulled away from its need or the implications of not following it, means nothing. Moreover, even if some teachers do help you understand problems regarding Sustainable Development, they can only provide you with their subject perspective on it. An economics teacher would only help you look at sustainability from an economic lens; a psychology teacher can help you look at it from a psychological lens. Studying sustainability differently with different subjects prevents you from looking at sustainability as a whole.
Adjectival education helps you look at problems but it does not give you the incentive to devote yourself to understanding them and implementing measures to solve these problems at your own personal level. Hence you can safely conclude that even though adjectival education can be used to make students aware, it does little to drive and motivate them to take action against these problems.
Stay tuned to read our next blog to understand how Education for Sustainable Development can help overcome the shortcomings of Adjectival Education, a necessity of the present world.
Brainwiz is using Education for Sustainable Development as a tool to enhance 21st-century skills and socio-emotional learning competencies of students to make them better suited for work-life challenges of the future.