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Questions and doubts and possible seeds of change

May 21, 2011
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Clouded mind with lots of doubts and a few may be’s

  • Why is it that children everywhere are being continuously fed with loads of information in the name of education?
  • What about keeping alive the curiosity and creativity every child is born with?
  • Why is it that a child in Ladakh, a child in Kerala, and the one in Bihar (and possibly in Africa and Europe too) are studying the same curriculum, which has nothing to do with their own culture, their own little place and their own language and traditions?

May be because that’s the way it is supposed to be, because the current system needs more conformed (read: not misfits that according to me a good education system would produce) people who talk the same language – May be because for the system to survive you need bright, hardworking and obedient people with more or less no urge to question and with curiosity that no longer breathes

  • Why is it that all children of similar age groups are put together in a class?
  • In the traditional communities, cultures children from different age groups learnt and lived together. Children of different age groups put together would mostly help each other and learn from each other. Then why is it that the system like that no longer exists?

May be because the current way breeds more competitiveness and the system needs people with more competitive mindset (more than cooperative learning). May be that is the reason you start very early embedding it in the minds of young children. “You need to be better than the other… your performance would always be measured relative to your competitor’s performance. So either pull yourself up or pull the other person down“… I have seen this with myself. Deep within I mostly feel unhappy at other people success. I wonder where the seeds to this deformity lies!

  • Why is it that the hierarchy of subjects anywhere in the world remains the same – Sciences > Commerce > Arts (Art > Music > Dance)?

May be because the system (with growing industries and corporate houses and supporting structures like banks and private equities) needs more people with sciences and commerce knowledge. They say that the Industrial revolution bred the current educational system and that these systems exist solely so that the industry can have efficient workers. This model of current schooling system seem to have originated in Prussia where pedagogical methods were designed in order to create obedience and conformity to the state (http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/resources_gatto.html)

  • Why has today’s Education become synonymous only to standard of living (both status wise and financially)?
  • Better the education more is your capacity to earn, stronger is the position you hold on the society – why is this, the only measure that is being used?
  • What if instead of showing my degree I tell someone that my education has helped me to become more compassionate and a better and caring human being? Is capacity to love, care for others not an important part of education?

Sam Pitroda, Head of Knowledge Commission and Personal Advisor to the PM has an answer to the above (I found it in a blog and here is a part of interesting conversation Shashi Bhushan (a young educationist) had with Sam Pitroda) –

“In 2009, I had an opportunity to interact with Mr. Sam Pitroda. The discussion was on the topic- “Educational reforms in India”. I was taken aback by the low quality of discussion in the room. Here we had the best of the brains from across nation and the man who has the power to allow policy change and most of the questions  revolved around… How to improve evaluation, curriculum, how to make school kids more employable and so on. To me it was not a discussion on how to improve education and life of our kids but on how to improve education to improve life of corporates and capitalism. Finally, I gathered the courage to interrupt Mr. Pitroda and ask – “Sir, Where do you think is the place of Values, Morals, Character, Education of Environment damage in Education?” . He looked at me a little upset for taking the discussion tangentially away and said, “I am not here for all that. I do not have solution for all those things.” He was right in his place. Most of the educational policies, educationalists, schools are not concerned with the question I raised. I was the one who was at the wrong place”

Seeds of change, I found in Bir (a Tibetan village somewhere up in the Himalayas)

Its been a few weeks now. In Bir at this time of season you see vast spans of golden farms (ripened wheat) merging into the lush green hills, overshadowed by the majestic mountains that are always white, covered with ice.

But what makes this place really adorable is the simplicity embedded in the people living here; the old Tibetans who are so spiritually grounded and are always smiling, the farmers who are busy resting, and talking to each other, after they have harvested the crop and then the Buddhist monks who have taught me a lot about life and compassion. Everything is so simple (from getting up in the mornings to sleeping in the night), that I wanted to title this post “Simplicity”.

This is not the first time I have been to a monastery, but this is the first time I have spent a few weeks living in one, with the monks, and learning from them. The monks here, most of them from Tibet spend around 10-15 years learning various aspects of Buddhism.

Most important thing is that through our learning, we must learn to develop Boddhichitta“.
What is that?“, I asked.
Developing a heart that always want others to be free from suffering“.
“And secondly, we learn everything with the art of using logic. Everything has to be tested, to be known; nothing is to be taken for granted. We have to learn how to logically test everything, how to reason things out, how to delve into wisdom and test regularly what we know and understand by questioning. Otherwise learning does not take place, and the text just goes and sits in some part of our brain

This as we discussed, struck me should form the very basis of Education.

But what would they do in life, one may ask. Here is what a few monks want to do with their life –

Studies in Nepal –

I have finished my studies, but you know the studies, they could really never be done with. I teach at the monastery now, but I know i have to keep learning, keep learning to be good and keep learning to do good. I have realized that a lot is required to be done in Nepal to improve condition of people. Here in Nepal they kill animals for rituals, so many die every year. I traveled last year reasoning with people and showing them why it is not good to kill anyone for sake of anything. I wish to serve the people of Nepal.

from a monastery near Mysore –

I was talking to him about how consumerism is increasing everywhere and that how people today collect more than they ever require. I kept presenting my arguments and he kept agreeing to everything and listening in awe. And then he said, “I completely agree. We do not need to own more. I come from Mongolia, people in my country are also like that, fighting to own more than each other. I am however trying to follow what you are talking about and hope to learn more. I have only 3 robes and this one I am wearing is 12 year old. It does not look that old right (he said with a smile). I have really taken care of it. I know I don’t need more and I am happy.” I was awestruck. What I was merely talking about, he had already mastered.

from a monastery in Dehradun –

He is only 17. He crossed the border and came to India on foot at the age of 14. “I wish to learn for 5 more years in the monastery and then I wish to work for schools. Today I see rich people suffering more than the poor in this country. I wish to bridge the gap and alleviate the suffering of both as much as possible. I hope I can create a charity school for children where they come out as good, compassionate human beings. Today’s schools are creating really very selfish people. This makes them suffer a lot.

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. amey permalink
    May 21, 2011 11:15

    nice post..
    unfortunately its true that we have a hierarchy of subjects and not everyone has the possibility (or opportunities) of making a life in fields like performing arts, music.. etc. You’re right, the educ. system is set out to make people employable for jobs that require just one set line of thinking..

    Like

  2. Aravind permalink
    May 21, 2011 12:38

    In a capitalistic society where there are people who have unmet needs, people do what pays them. It is a formulaic life. Actually, I have seen here in the US that few people go into science — this is because of two reasons, people have not had many unsatisfied wants in their lives so that they are not driven only by money, and because one can have a decent livelihood with many different professions so that people have a wide range of options. However, dentistry and law pay the most and there is a big demand for these fields.

    I am not sure if a Gurukula system will work at the scale of today’s societies. These systems used to work when communities were small and only a small fraction of the society used to be educated.

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    • May 21, 2011 13:12

      Yes Aravind, the edu system is driven and is suited for a capitalistic society, no doubt (as it is said it originated for the same reason)… that is why it is said that its main aim is to make people employable (now in India they are also trying to introduce ‘vocational training’ as part of school curriculum)… But Education has far greater responsibility, beyond the needs of a particular society (here capitalistic)

      Gurukula system would not work in today’s society.. for it to work the society must simultaneously adapt.. this adaption has started to take place – localization over globalization is influencing the thought process in many places (it happened in Cuba due to external circumstances, unknowingly created by US… its happening in India too – see this movie, i learnt a lot of things from it – http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/ It is a chicken and egg situation, but it has to start somewhere..

      Like

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