Friday, October 17, 2014

On Education

Education has always eluded me. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy learning, unlearning and relearning. I just think that the "education" I've had, didn't teach me this.

I've never really been a top achiever. I've never really been the one whose parents could show him off saying he's achieved top grades in class. I've never really been the one getting into "enrichment" classes. I've never been the one who revises before exams; heck I've never finished studying my portions before the exams. I guess I was really never meant to be all that.

I've always always been bored of exams. There are some cases in my life where I've been *so* bored of them that I've chosen to not even write answers to questions because if I did write them, they would be really long.

I just finished my MS a while ago and these qualities still stick with me. So I thought let me take some time and understand myself. Even through the MS program, I've gotten "D" grades because of, surprise surprise - boredom. I knew the answers, I was just bored to write them.

Some part of me, realized early enough that these "exams" were at the end of every semester and that getting good grades in them classified me under the _Good_ student category and that really didn't parse. Even as a kid, in retrospect, that was probably the reason for my crappy performances in them.

I never enjoyed being tested. I've however always enjoyed testing myself. I think that if someone is looking for a quality in the true essence of it and if you possess it, they will find it in you.

Even as a kid, I've always loved learning things. I've loved to take things apart and put them back together. I've always loved to take seemingly unrelated things, put them together and build a story out of them (Read: LEGO).

And I think that every kid, has these qualities. Every kid is inquisitive, it just _needs_ to know what makes that machine work, it _wants_ to take something shiny apart and find the source of the shine, it _yearns_ to experience something new. Every kid is curious. Every kid is daring. Every kid takes risks. Every kid, basically is a kid.

Education takes this away. In the name of teaching skills to take on the "world" around them, educations takes from us the very things that made childhood so fun. In the name of imparting knowledge, education takes from us the ability to _create_ our own knowledge.

One of the greatest things of mankind is our ability to perceive things differently, to perceive things as _we_ see fit, to perceive things from our point of view, to perceive things based on our experiences.

Knowledge has become a single source of truth. It is _preached_ that if all of us don't have parts of said Knowledge, we are not wise and that we don't possess what is required to qualify as residents of the world.

I might even go so far as to say that the only skill that we all need to share and that needs to live as a single source of truth -- is communication. Everything else is ones own. In a world as big as ours, like minded people will find each other and start working on something that they see fit, that appeals to their perspectives and their thoughts.

Personally, I feel that knowledge should be distributed. Everyone should be entitled to his/her own knowledge instead of having a single Knowledge pool which is supposed to be assimilated. Everyone doesn't look at a given object in the same way; we seem to be forgetting that simple fact of life and everyone is forced to think in a single way when fundamentally we are all different people.

If nothing, this seems to be like a propaganda. Like there is some sort of conspiracy behind the whole idea of "education".

Schools and Colleges have become but a business. _Extracting_ money from the parents of the kids in order to impart this said Knowledge. In order to make them "ready" for the world around them.

However there seems to be some places that get this. That understand that teaching is less about _telling_ them that 1+1=2 and more about making them _synthesize_ this information and ask questions about it.

Asking questions, should primarily be the goal of teaching. This quality seems to be the *first* thing that is _stolen_ from the kids. Most teachers encourage kids to ask questions but don't practice it themselves. Teaching, much like management of schools and colleges has also become a business. Teachers teach because it is a 9-3 job and pays decently. There are very few teachers who teach because they love to do it. They fail to understand what a great power they hold, a power to guide an entire generation, a power to *create* change.

I believe the psychology of kids and the way they think is very simple. They follow. That is all there is to it. They tend to look up to people and follow what they do. The simplest example of this is the way they learn to speak their mother tongue - simply by listening and following the lip movements of their parents. Guidance is essential, but the initiator is simple - The need to follow.

We need to understand this and cultivate it. We as teachers shouldn't *tell* our students to do something. We need to *show* them that that is the right thing to do, by doing it ourselves. When they see us doing something, they will also follow it.

To me, that is how education should be. It should be more about motivating the kids to do something that they want to do instead of something that we think they are good at. And they will only find out what they are good at when they ask questions about themselves and about the world around them. In our journey to impart education to our younger generations, this is something we are obligated to teach.

So what happens if we don't do these things?
Nothing really drastic. Some kids will realize these things soon enough and reacting on it. The only problem are the timelines. When they could have gotten this realization eons ago, why delay it? Kids are the next generation, they are the next change. When we have the opportunity to influence this change early enough why shouldn't we do it? The state our country is in right now, we could use change. We could use the next generation. We could use some questions.

So let us teach them. Let us teach them to assimilate. Let us teach them to analyze. Let us teach them to object. Let us teach them to learn. Let us teach them to teach. Let us teach them to travel. Let us teach them to experience. Let us teach them to love. Let us teach them happiness. Let us teach them to fail. Let us teach them to help others. Let us teach them to care. Let us teach them humanity. Let us teach them to look beyond boundaries. Let us teach them to look beyond our world. Let us teach them to look beyond religion. Let us teach them about sacrifice. Let us teach them to not lie. Let us teach them to live up to their word. Let us teach them anything we can. Let us teach them everything we can.

But first, Let us learn these things. Let us teach them, by teaching ourselves.

That to me, is education.


  1. I'm reminded of calvin and hobbes.

  2. agree to most points but disagree that everybody should be entitled to their own knowledge. Am sure somewhere you meant - everybody is entitled to their own interpretation.. knowledge is supreme - for ex - 2D --> Circle, 3D--> Sphere. But how I interpret the dimension and having understood that dimension exists - can I push myself to see if there is a 4th or 5th dimension - that is when we start pushing boundaries.. well written :)

  3. What about parents, who force their kids into one field or the other based on what's lucrative?
    What about our whole society, where someone who's done BCom is considered inferior to someone who's done BTech?
    What about all the kids who aren't interested in learning History, Geography or Civics? Even if you had the best teacher in the world, there will be some kids who don't care about some topic or the other.

    Are you lazy to write an answer? I count 1276 words on this post alone.
    Not only the teacher but every person has the power to influence another. If a kid sees your post and feels disillusioned by the system he is studying in, would you blame the teacher or yourself?
    It's time we stopped blaming the system and started changing our own attitudes.

    Jai Hind! Vote for AAP!


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