Last week I got the opportunity to conduct a talk on “Stress Management” in our college’s Girls section. And I came across some very interesting observations during the question answer session that really made me stop and analyze if our education system is actually educating our students or turning them into a 2.0 version of themselves that is upped into a race for scores, if they get going they are winners if they lack behind they are certainly losers with no idea what to do with themselves anymore.
Education, as per the oxford dictionary, is defined first as “The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university: ‘a course of education”. This is a very literal definition for education as a matter of fact is something that we get at school, but if we go down the listed set of definitions you come across this one, “Education is an enlightening experience”. An enlightening experience is supposed to help us think out of our predetermined, pre learnt set patterns of beliefs. It should help us come out and look beyond the sea of knowledge into the horizon. It should help us question the reality that our eyes present to us, it should provide us the insight to not judge, and it should help us in developing a nerve that tells us that there could be angles related to everything that we don’t know of. Education should help mold a human being into a dynamic person who can sit with ambiguities and who can question realities.
So I come back to my point that are we doing that in our educational institutes? Doesn’t seem to be so. If in a gathering of 150+ teenagers only 3-4 can tell me they want to do arts I would seriously raise questions about how they are being trained. Scoring big and taking up science is the mantra of the day for the youngsters here. And this is an institute that grabs positions at intermediate level every single year, so am not questioning their theoretical skill imparting ability. I am questioning their life skill imparting ability.
I presented the students with a situation and asked them to guide me; we assumed that I am a student of class 10th and I am very weak in mathematics and physics (that I actually was back then) and I have to choose a subject for intermediate so what should I choose? I was actually shocked to hear things like I don’t have much scope in life as I am not fit for science so I should rather go for arts and do B.A. and then get married. Some other students suggested rigorous tuitions to get me through pre-med or engineering and then opt for self-finance in a med or engineering college. I was appalled, thinking about the kind of seed that is being implanted in their head. Their budding brains have been wired around scores and certain careers in a strict way. My next question was that how many of you get to exercise daily and just 10-20 hands were raised and the rest of them said “but we don’t have time”. I had these flashing images of me and my brother cycling around or aimlessly burning time around the house, we were never really short of time back then. And then after I took the students through magical things that regular exercise or yoga could do to their physical and more importantly emotional health, a student very confidently made a comment about yoga being a form of Buddhist worship so I shouldn’t propagate it. And we actually had more than half the hall supporting that view arguing that we could offer nimaz instead.
I am always up for healthy arguments because that is how the mind widens its horizons but I was perplexed at their conviction and surprised as to how conveniently religion becomes the base of any discussion in our country. But in an educational institute by some growing teenagers, brings me back to the purpose of education. I wanted to witness enlightenment but I couldn’t find it. And it made me sad to see that the generation growing up is enclosed in a more stringent belief structure rather that looking beyond the obvious. They are quick to judge, and they think they KNOW because they have exposure to a lot these days but isn’t it technically the stage where learning loses all purpose? But they are after all growing children so it has to be the way we are molding them. There appears to be a strong need for educationists and policy makers to sit down and review how we are unknowingly killing and molding our youth into a divergent 2.0 version, instead of waiting to wander through the cycle of where we went wrong after another decade.