Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Missing Pieces of Education

It was shocking to learn that a student ended his life after he got an extension of his BTech project here. There are many immediate blame-games going on pointing to the careless Professors, the weak-hearted students, the academic pressure, missing friends and the missing "complete" education. Let me pick up the last one and see how we are indeed bereft of an education that makes us go through these phases of life.

Our education system attempts to create winners. No matter in what field it is. That is also what is reflected in the popular culture. When you watch a movie about a academically stressed kid - it comes with a happy ending - you learn that he is a talented artist or gifted player. It had to be. Imagine the ending of Taare Zameen Par, where the kid is just normal - not exceptionally good at anything. It will not shown in that way. Win you have to. Sooner or later. What about those persons who have to do something for a living and never found that hidden talent. Is it important to win ? Be it cliche, but truth is that - it is much more important to learn. And the winning is dangerous in the sense that it can be a deterrent to learning. There are exceptions but, that is harder.

We learn to celebrate only success. Have you ever danced when you got a poor grade ? It sounds funny, sounds irresponsible, sounds out of mind. But, the fact is you can only do what you have to do. When there is so little control over the outcome then, as a sane human being why will we let the outcome control us? We should treat the outcome as an adversary and not the success or failure.

The micro and macro aspect is missing. Ask an octogenarian how does he feel now about his poor job performance 40 years back. He will laugh it away. At that moment, probably he was overstressed. Why ? Because, we live in the moment. There is certain joy in living the moment but, there are hidden treasures also - when we live away from the time. Our journey, spread across time and space is a beautiful one. We can stop and take a moment to recollect those paths instead of running.

Examples. What we carelessly missed in the education system is simple examples of hardships and perseverance in front of toughness. There are always the tensions of morality, success and peer pressure. There are also numerous examples from modern and ancient times about people who overcame those. When those examples are ingrained in deep memory, those lend helping hands during tough times. The effort we spend on learning a technology is not the same as what we spend on learning about these examples. We rely on some good memories from our childhood - when grandparents would tell about the life of Subhash Chandra Bose or Veer Hanuman. With time, these memories fade to support us or transform to a meaningless ritual. These things need refreshing as much as reading a book like "wonder ways for winner" needs.

Understanding the self. Amidst all the tensions, I think, it is perfectly fine to compromise if you find that your moral strength is weaker than say, Raja Harishchandra. It is more important to understand oneself and then monitor it. With this awareness at first place - comes the power of control.

Pity, that our education lacked these teachings and we have to learn these the hard way.

Rest In Peace Nitin.

The book in figure is written by Ralph Heath -

1 comment:

  1. the last para "Understanding the Self" reminded me of our Kukenhof trip .... I remember discussing something along those lines :)

    A good post !