Indian students are taught to be careful with the equipment in their school laboratories. At the face of it, this is not an unreasonable request. First of all, some equipment in labs is dangerous if handled incorrectly, especially in chemistry labs. In other cases, the equipment might be too expensive and invariably fragile. In a class of nearly fifty students, it is also impossible for every student to have access to individual equipment.
Many times, the students do not find themselves wanting to go out of their way to gain practical experience. That maybe due to fear or simply disinterest. With all these factors influencing the administrators, the teachers, and students of schools, it is no surprise to find that students leave schools without adequate practical knowledge or training. It can reach such an extent that a student is unsure about using a simple device such as a vernier caliper (does that sound complicated?).
The reasons behind our educational system becoming complacent are complex. It can be argued that in the pursuit of providing basic education to the massive population of the country, corners have been cut to fit the fast-paced needs of this generation. So, the system is developed with a mindset that students eventually will learn things during their career. It is true to an extent, but we cannot overlook the importance of practical education.
Just having knowledge based on books has a drastic effect on the skills of students. For one, students will always begin their career treated as a novice who has zero experience in using or operating even the simplest of tools. Two, they will no longer be in a learning environment, which means that the new work process could be unpleasant and dangerous. Therefore, at least to prepare a student for the rigors of a job, practical education at a school level is important.
Another important aspect of practical knowledge is the acquiring of skills. A country is always in need of good, skilled workmen. When it comes to fields like carpentry or metal working, the country still relies mostly on informally trained personnel and their experience. If schools and especially colleges offer practical subjects with intent, the country will be able to produce graduates who have skills in such areas. This useful experience with the additional theoretical knowledge would prove an asset to the economy, thus increasing the opportunities that are available to the students.
Socially, it seems that somewhere along the development of Indian civilization, the respect and recognition that was given to craftsmen and workmen has reduced. This state can be tackled at its most fundamental level by exposing students to the crafts and trades in question. It might displace the stigma attached to such jobs and in turn, open up new avenues for students. Students could also learn new skills they might not know they possess.
In conclusion, it seems that giving importance to practical education could lead to a better economy, skilled labor, and newer opportunities. When this practice starts early at the school level, then the advantages increase as time advances. Young minds are more susceptible and capable of learning concepts faster.
Simply put, all the theory, physics, mechanics and what not about cycling can be learned. But unless one gets on the cycle and tries to ride it, one will never learn the art of cycling. That, in essence, sums up the importance of practical education.