Heritage Education – An unexplored dimension

India is blessed with thousands of years of heritage and culture. However, our education system and pedagogy never paid serious attention to this aspect. We can’t expect our children to love our country without exposing them to the amazing inheritance received from past generations.  But there is no systematic approach for this. Our textbooks are a mere collection of names and dates rather than the amazing facts that fill the students with awe and thrill of knowing the glorious deeds of our past rulers and leaders.  

The focus needs to change. Instead of who built a heritage building or when it was built, we should be focusing on discussing the architecture, the engineering marvel that the build is. Data is not an issue today. Almost every known and even lesser-known place of importance has a video uploaded on YouTube and the websites of state tourism departments. Discussing these aspects in the class, while focusing on the fantastic achievements of our forefathers with very less technology and tools should be the main agenda in the classroom.  

One of the biggest complaints of the students today is that school is boring. The children are not able to relate to the topics being discussed and are not sure why they need to study them. History and geography are the least important subjects as they are not part of any competitive examinations unless someone is aspiring for a job in government. This feeling can be transformed by engaging children in active exploration and discussion about our heritage sites.  

Every state in India is foiled with many ancient temples and buildings which are architectural marvels. People consider going to a temple as a religious activity. Why not visit the temple to explore the architecture? Understand why a temple is built that way? What is the story of that temple? What materials were used? How difficult was it to build that? Can the students copy some of the exquisite figurines and sculptures into their notebooks? What can be learnt from these figures in terms of our earlier fashion and culture? There are so many angles to be explored at a temple. How did a temple function? What was the source of its money? Can we say that each big temple functioned as a mini economy in itself? How many people were dependent on a temple for their livelihoods? This discussion itself can bring a lot of insights into the socio-cultural aspects of the earlier centuries. The list of such structures is endless. We have so many forts, temples, archaeological sites, Buddhist sites, old buildings, cave systems, and other structures.  

Here is a suggested plan of action. First, we should identify such structures and building in each district of India. Each of these sites should have a teaching guide/ instructor manual to highlight what is to be shown and discussed with the children. This is where we need the help of scholars from diverse disciplines to help the children appreciate the multi-faceted wonders. Tours should be conducted for all the school children to visit the nearest heritage sites. All the aspects of arts, sculpture, organization, should be discussed along with the unadulterated history. The students are then encouraged to explore the associated astronomical, scientific, and geological facts associated with the building. They are then encouraged to write short essays about some of these aspects. That would help them develop a multi-disciplinary outlook and appreciation of our heritage.  

Another grossly neglected aspect is our handicrafts. Every stage has so much to offer in this space. Understanding the effort that goes into creating each of these articles would be an eye opener. Children would get exposed to these ancient creative arts and could even try their hands in creating some of the easier things. This will improve their appreciation for creativity as well as the efforts and economics involved behind the handicrafts. We need another set of locations along with instructor manuals to help the teachers engage students effectively. 

This is not very difficult to execute. Most of the facts are available with Archaeological Survey of India and the state tourism departments. What needs to be put in place is a regular program that would ensure that children are exposed to this knowledge and experience of our glorious past. The individual trips could be funded by various companies through CSR programs, along with the tourism departments and state education departments. Even entrepreneurship is possible. In conclusion, it makes a lot of sense to engage our children with our heritage in a systematic program so that they develop appreciation of our culture and love of our country.

About the Author 

Flt. Lt. Sridhar is a Startup Ecosystem Builder, Keynote Speaker, Author, Researcher, and Entrepreneur. Sridhar’s mission is to help Entrepreneurs and startups achieve incredible success through exponential growth. He brings insights and lessons from three decades of hands-on startup and business leadership experience in various verticals. Sridhar uses six different thinking processes, including systems thinking and design thinking, and helps entrepreneurs create breakthrough solutions through his unique coaching process. Sridhar launched and ran four businesses. He is a certified Startup Mentor from the Confederation of Indian Industries.

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