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Let Education Educate
|by Pramod Khilery|
In my college I often get to see so called educated ones with loads of degrees asphyxiating on their resumes indulging in misdemeanor that can put even so called illiterates to shame. If they were to shorn of their clothes what drops off their tongues is not very different from those tongues which they deem rustic, boorish and unlettered both in content and intonation. This brings up one question. Did years of education make no difference to their intellectual and emotional quotient? Why it is that after having amassed education degrees their civic sense betrays them? And more importantly don't they see any connection between education and greater and refined manifestation of one's disposition?Answers are neither easy nor direct. Still one aspect of the answer to these questions may lay in the pitiful fact of brutal formalization of education at government institutions and unabashed commercialization at private institutions laying much more emphasis than required on insipid and dead certificates than the delights of alive and bloomed education. Certification which is a necessary document should be a default side effect of a thorough process citing the performance not the only aim worth striving for. Need I say precisely the opposite reigns supreme?
When child sets his foot on the sacred lands of education and knowledge for the first time most often it is the desecration of power of knowledge in the form of corporal punishment that he has to contend with than the lessons of allegorical wisdom he needs at that tender age to grow into a good personality. Such is the magnitude of the terror of exams weaved by none other than the esteemed teachers themselves that it is not the comprehension of the topic but the absurd cramming that is advised and sadly even ordered with coercion. The apathetic attitude towards education prevails to such an extent that more than the teaching of the content it is only the forming of questions and answers from within the content and then the memorization of these answers that remains the priority leaving the child petrified and under duress. It goes without saying that once the chapter is over in class most children never read that chapter again. They do what is necessary to score marks: cramming questions and answers and worse still sometimes only most important ones. Further more it is not the discussion or story telling of the content which children are more likely to relate to but bland Who, What, When, How etc that children often get to hear from their teachers.
This one dimensional approach of questions and answers very precariously extends to middle and secondary education also contributing further to the stunting of mind and intellectual growth. Schools, the givers of the knowledge, and the molders and creators of personalities end up becoming the rusted vehicle for passing papers, securing percentage, nurturing illusions and missing on a substantial part of what could have been learned best only at that tender age. A student comes out of the school conditioned to write papers, pass them and pat his back. The years which should have led the foundation for a 'well-formed mind' do the ghastly sin of laying emphasis on 'only well-filled mind' and end up nowhere. At the end of the day all what remains with the student is a paper called certificate telling him how intelligent or poor or average he is leaving the knowledge and learning far behind. Mind, once stretched in the wrong direction neither seeks nor experiences the rectification for want of will power, the lack of which can be ascribed to the absent holistic education. Teachers might adduce the adage 'practice makes perfect' behind the application of repetitive Question-Answer sessions but this mere memorization is just a layer of superficial paint on an otherwise wall with weak foundation. Unless students can't apply what they learn to strangest avenues learning remains incomplete.
What is the real purpose of the education? Why do we need to be educated? Haven't we known people with zilch or scant formal education setting great examples for all of us to follow? Was Akbar, the 16th century Mughal Ruler, not a great warrior, a man of liberal values and fond of ideas and thoughts despite being illiterate? Didn't Sidney Weinberg become a powerful banker by overcoming his humble origins turning the small brokerage house Goldman Sachs into premier investment bank in the world? Don't we know how Bill Gates build a world class organization that stirred a revolution in the way a large part of world get on with their lives without having possessed any esteemed degree. Don't these and such countless other stories of successes eliminate the need of gleaning degrees? No, because the purpose of education goes far beyond the professional success.
On the flip side there are countless examples where we run into people who we find inspirational and fit enough to be looked up to in myriad forms in the most unlikeliest of the places. I wonder how come on earth I never saw my grandfather losing his temper before us children despite his being illiterate in the worldly sense but certainly not unlettered. He may not have learned the math and science he didn't let himself go past the school of life unlearned. His learning got illustrated in his demeanor. In my college I often stumble upon people who end up doing something far greater and substantial in their own humble ways through their deeds and saying than most of us esteemed degree holders. None of this is to undermine the effort and sweat that goes in earning a degree but all these instances really make me wonder about the cause and effect of what we call education. The imbibing of education will always go a long way in helping one become a inspiring human being socially and personally. My father, once in a fit of anger told me, 'if I am investing money in you, don't I have the right to see an upward mobility in your marks, comportment, demeanor, dressing sense and more importantly thoughts. When you come home I should be able to gauge a difference between you and someone who did not go out.' I couldn't have been anything but in sync with him. If education did not help in chiseling my thoughts which are the fountainhead for all other possible positive changes then no amount of percentage on my resume could decimate the hollowness off that prevaricating percentage.
A few days ago my sister told me of a highly educated elderly professor taking exception to a right but slightly offensive remark by a young lecturer. It did not take the honorary professor more than a few minutes to exhort the administration with the weight of his resume to fire off the young lecturer. An innocuous thought turned argument cost the young man his job. Whom do we blame here: the young lecturer for not according the due respect to elderly professor or the esteemed man who thought it more fit to use his sack of degree to render a first timer jobless than to bring him to his senses with the right doses of conciliation and confrontation through all the wisdom his age, experience and degrees brought to him. Was a slight argument more powerful than the education both had received and boasted of?
Coming back to schools children learn more by example than by text books. When a child doesn't see the emulation of great thoughts written in his moral lessons either by teachers or by his parents the natural instinct is to take what is in the text book for what it is i.e. bookish harangue. The precarious talk of what is bookish and what is practical gets seeped into his psyche at an age that education imparted at school always remains external. Today the huge wedge that exists between the child and his education is many times the distance between his school and home.
The study of science, math, humanities and all other disciplines and acquiring of skills is very important for not only to earn livelihood but also to contribute to nation development but the mere crunching of numbers and the cramming of facts may land one job and hence money but that would be an existence education doesn't have much of role to play in. If we dig a little deeper it is this distanced existence that keeps one away from the social engagement beyond obvious including the non-realization of his own true self that leads to the most ills one is afflicted with. This situation explicates why most people can't put them in other's shoes and see an alternative view of things, certainly one of the paramount aims of the education. >From this emerges the weakness in one's personality to satiate one's ego. Will it be wrong to say that most conflicts from a tenuous brawl in the street to establishment of authoritarian regimes and surge of fundamentalism can be attributed to this major inability of a personality.
Though there can be myriad ways to define education but to top it all remains the sole endeavor to better ourselves with every passing moment in every possible way. If education doesn't help in the development of self so as to help one become an asset to the interests of civilization and society we live in then it points to the huge lacunas to be filled in. The institution of the formalized teaching that remains one of the greatest pillars of the edifice of education will have to be build with strong foundations. Since teaching in primary schools is less about any profound knowledge skill and more about child care and human science governments can make sure that primary school teaching jobs be given sufficient importance with rigorous interviews in place to select the right candidates and then child care programs for the selected candidates. A handsome annual package for those whose job is to chisel the future of the nation would be a right step in the right direction.
We often hear about the right of education. Let's start talking about the right to be educated in a way that is way beyond gleaning degrees, diplomas and earning livelihood. If teachers by giving the banal instructions rest indulge in a talking session with their students in a way to engage everyone in a discussion centered around great books, inspiring anecdotes, liberal values, equality and virtues of compassion, love and helping others some of the ills of our society can really be cured. There is the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure. Inculcating right values in the minds yet to acquire colors is the right beginning.
Socrates once said education is all about drawing out what is their within everyone. The word Education also as it comes from the Latin e-ducere meaning "to lead out' points to what he said. If education can help us realize our true potential and then use it along the right avenues not only will that lead to a life striving its way through the trials but also help the nation in striding ahead on the path of progress owing to low crime rates and greater working hours steeped in one's passion. One of the chief causes of frustration at work and hence low productivity and sometimes even fatal results is one's being at wrong place. Our society is ridden with a gargantuan professional mismatch where it is not inherent skills and interest and their sprucing up but either what one is able to lay his hands on or what brings more money that decides what one becomes or pursues in life. Obviously in such situation it is not work but compulsion to earn money that drives one to his work daily. How can we expect someone to be morally awake when life itself has ended up as being a formality revolving around pulling the cart of domestic responsibilities?
Eric Hoffer said that the central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together. How true. To make one capable to think is the one of primaries that education has to cater to. This thinking encompasses in it the creativity, the holistic view, the farsightedness, the virtue of hunch, the sense of true and false, right and wrong and real and unreal and the imagination to visualize. A lifelong will to learn from eclectic sources will only further prune this process of thinking.
Today the business of education is a flourishing one. The mushroom growth of education centers in sundry hues across the country is on the prowl to find not students but their customers. From primary to higher education the time we take to pause and rummage for real purpose of education in the vast ocean of degrees and diplomas is minuscule. Need I say that a vast majority of students go through the entire grind unconsciously and blindfolded. The basic human traits like patience, honesty, courtesy and compassion have made way for rage, frustration, invectives and subterfuge. 'My job should be done and to hell with others' seems to be the only mantra reigning the societies. The very idea of education has been so hemmed in between the system and the society that asphyxiation of some leftover strands of education is going unnoticed. Amidst all this can we say that education is on right track?
The social ills like pelf worship, herd mentality, superstitions, outlandish followings of anachronistic rituals, caste barriers and peer pressure in our society insinuates the lackadaisical progress of education. Such is the vast horizon of the education that alone government can't do much to help people. The cradle of home comes even before the school. If need be new parents can be imparted parenting lessons covering all topics conducive to a great child rearing. Any society is doomed unless the education evinces its real impact in terms of a self being an asset to it. We had better we recognize the fundamental flaws in our education system and devise strategies and work towards rectifying them not only by seeking a governmental intervention but also by working at our own levels.
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