The Problem With Including AI In School Curriculum


One of the main reasons to integrate AI in the current school curriculum is to make the upcoming generation familiar with technology. The Government of India and the educational board have been pushing for more artificial intelligence to be integrated into the education system, not from the perspective of enhancing it, but also with the intention of making young minds more aware and skilled when it comes to artificial intelligence.

Today, children are curious about the smart conversational devices and AI used in applications like Siri and Alexa; some of them even wonder how Netflix gives them precise recommendations. Gradually, they will grow curious and try to learn what algorithms are, what a neural network is, and how they work. The Government of India and the educational board have been taking measures to make the existing school curriculum more AI-centric with a firm belief that the students will learn about AI, have fun and also take India forward.

With the AI market estimated to reach around $15 trillion by the year 2030, the push for integrating AI in the school curriculum is fascinating. As India laces up to introduce AI in the school curriculum, there might be some issues that it has to counter first.

The AI Initiatives For Indian Schools

Some time ago, the CBSE released a curriculum, entailing the various ways AI can be integrated into the school curriculum. The curriculum gave a detailed account of how AI will be taught to children with their existing subjects. The curriculum came with a set of examples on how school subjects (English, Hindi, Science, Maths and Social Science) could be taught with AI applications and concepts mixed in with them.

They intend to practice what is called ‘AI+X paradigm’ for better integration. In brief, with AI+X, a subject is selected for which the teacher has specific teaching skills, and it is called X. Then, research is done to find whether the AI concept fits well with the subject on the ground of commonality with it, and prepare a lesson plan which explains AI application in that subject or lesson, which is AI+X. For example, a chapter of class 6 social science intends to make the students understand panchayat raj and its functioning using the concept of neural networks in artificial intelligence.

Building An AI Mindset Vs India’s Typical Pedagogy

If the schools across India are able to create a mindset of the students to study AI and its concepts at such a young age, then it’s the best preparation for the country to advance in the field of AI and achieve its full potential. 

But in India, education has always been more about passing the examinations rather than learning the core of the subjects around the real-world applications. If at all countries like India want to introduce AI into the curriculum, they have to revise the education system to focus on problem-solving and developing AI applications rather than just passing exams.

It is a known fact that learning AI includes a lot of coding, linear algebra and practice. So, whatever curriculum that has been introduced regarding AI needs to be more about making the students learn about the fundamentals of coding and linear algebra first and then move on to core AI concepts. Teaching students is one aspect, but paying attention to whether they have actually taken in a concept like neural networks or classification models is another thing. 

Also, we don’t know the curriculum introduced by the educational board is something that ultimately brushes up on various AI concepts using the existing subjects. Then at a stage where they have understood a little, telling them that much of the artificial intelligence and machine learning is a black box, might not bode well with them. This is unclear and yet to be seen.

The introduction of AI curriculum still seems challenging to be taught in Indian public schools given India’s poor teaching methodologies and the AI understanding of teachers themselves. Students at school have different levels of ability to grasp, understand and apply knowledge. Whether every student will be able to understand these AI concepts remains to be seen. 

What About Teaching The Teachers?

Having a well-structured curriculum and subjects are only one side of the teaching process, the most important aspect when it comes to teaching is the one who teaches the subject. 

Teachers in the existing systems already aren’t that qualified to teach straightforward and fundamental concepts, and it would definitely not be good to have less qualified teachers helping students study AI. So, teacher training on AI needs to be ensured before a complex curriculum on AI is brought in. This will help students get an in-depth and clear understanding of the AI concepts.

And when we talk about teaching, whatever concepts being introduced in the middle school or high school curriculum are going to be fundamentals and foundations for future, if the teachers aren’t skilled enough to make AI simple for students, it will hinder further development. 

Closing Thoughts

Much of the AI integration is going to start happening in 2020 or at least has begun in 2020. And, that’s why the government and the education boards must take all the measures when it comes to adding artificial intelligence to their curriculum. If the students of today become the generation of tomorrow, then it is imperative to prepare the future generation for the coming of AI/ML. We hope educational boards in the country will make adequate arrangements, which can foster AI skills at an early stage.

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Sameer Balaganur
Sameer is an aspiring Content Writer. Occasionally writes poems, loves food and is head over heels with Basketball.

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