ON THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION

What is the purpose of Education? Why do we go to schools and colleges? Are our lives determined by our board percentages? Is the pressure on the students and teachers justified? These numerous questions and more prop up in my head when I think about education and its purpose. In schools everyone asks about the toppers and the not-so good performers are looked down upon. And once people get jobs and start working they are asked: “Dude, what’s your salary?”, “How much package does the company pays you?” Have you ever seen the nature of the job or the actual tasks to be performed by the prospective employee reported on the newspaper? I don’t think so as the only thing which is reported and highlighted is the highest annual salary package granted to supposedly the most brilliant and most meritorious student.

Is the purpose of education to enable us to earn money and get rich? Earning money is definitely a necessity but education is not meant to serve this purpose. Rather its purpose is to make us become open-minded, life-long learners; help us in finding our interests and become ethically judicious human beings. Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton was not the richest person in the world. Neither was our beloved former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, but they contributed to our world in the best possible way they could. And perhaps that’s the biggest purpose of education. Of course not all of us can gain that level of expertise and excellence in our respective fields, but that does not matter. We still retain the power to influence and touch the lives of so many around us and influence our society in a positive way.

In the modern materialistic world we are taught to be competitive and consistently outperform others. This leads to cheating and use of unfair means in the examination. Education should teach and guide us to share and work together, synergize and learn from each other. Just because a student gets the highest marks does not mean he knows everything. Even he can learn something from the poorest performer who may have his or her strengths which our mark-based rigid examination system fails to gauge. Teachers play a pivotal role in helping these academically weaker students. Unfortunately, teachers are also subject to the system and are pressured to focus on the high-performers than each student to boost the reputation of the schools. The school is for the students and not the other way round.

In India we have a very peculiar way of coercing the students to choose subjects. Most of them are pushed to choose science and mathematics because these subjects have the biggest earning potential. Engineers and doctors are the highly respected professions apart from the highly coveted IAS services and other Central Government jobs. What does this lead to? This leads to corrupt bureaucrats who are not at all interested in serving the people and select the jobs just to enjoy the benefits. There is no harm in enjoying the perks but providing service should be the priority. Likewise we have heartless doctors who ask for money before treating a dying patient. Engineers are plagued with inefficiency and do bogus work without any civic responsibility for the safety of people. Sometimes I feel like these are the worst sort of people, as they are educated bandits, looting the common man of their hard earned money.

None of us are encouraged to become teachers who remain the backbone of our education system. It’s because of them, the few who have inspired and influenced us; we have managed to make something of ourselves. Perhaps someday we will realize that life is more than money and that every profession is necessary and respectful in its own way. Education is not limited to school and is imbibed from every experience we ever encounter and every person we meet throughout the course of our lives. So let’s keep learning, let’s remain a student, let’s keep moving forward.

Advertisements

MARK ARE JUST NUMBERS

There has been an increasing trend in the maximum marks obtained in Class X and XII examinations in recent years. There’s a rat race among the students to secure the highest. In 1990s, getting above average was considered great. And if anyone secured above 80%, that was extraordinary.

I remember my sister Kuljeet and I used to tell our little sister Prabhjot to calm down and enjoy also when she was in X. She once quoted the example of a girl in neighbourhood, also appearing for boards, who used to have rice instead of chapattis just to save on time on chewing so that she could study more. Sounds weird, right? Yes, weird it was, skipping on your food just to get some 10 minutes of extra studies! Thankfully, we managed to mould our sis a bit(only a bit) so that she could enjoy also, without compromising on her studies. She played Holi also during her boards and secured 89%.

Along with this increasing trend, there has been growing trend in the number of suicides among students as well. Students committed suicide because they failed or didn’t get a desired percentage. Some of them were too stressed that they didn’t even bother to wait for the results and ended up taking their lives, without thinking about the family and associations they made.

My brother was not great at studies. He secured decent marks in his X and XII and went for a hotel management course. In his college, he spent four years, instead of three, but my parents never complained or made him feel inferior. In fact, they used to ask every time on the landline call if there’s anything he requires. His failure didn’t deter him in putting his hard work when he got the job. With continuous hard work and dedication, he is now the Country Head in one of the leading restaurant chains abroad.

I keep telling my son also, that it’s ok if he doesn’t get full marks (he’s in Grade II only), what is more important is that he has understood the concept and can apply his learning anywhere.

Thankfully the education system of our country is also changing now. Instead of one final exam, we now have continuous assessment. Not only studies, but sports and extra-curricular activities are given weightage. Instead of just cramming up the answers, focus is now on the learning. The other day while was teaching my son Maths, I was amazed that instead of just sums and problems, children are doing logical reasoning questions at younger age. Same was with EVS, not only children are learning about the difference between a nuclear and a joint family; they are learning the concept as well.  With regular homework, assignments and projects, overall capabilities are taken into account.

AN APPEAL

I am not allowed to think
beyond four walls
thinking out of the box
was considered
a sinner.

My imagination is
short-circuited
and creativity is
on the verge of extinction
I have become
an endangered species
in the process
of analyzing and thinking.

Whenever
I stayed awake
as a night owl
striving for five A’s
for my assignments
and modules
I received
two dark crescent
under my eyes
everyday was
about the
grades and As
that
I hardly
forgot
the values of life.

My parents
wanted the
best of me
at the expensive
expense of my
childhood ruins.

Dear tiger moms
and helicopter dads
I don’t want to
skip my dinner
to complete
a project
on healthy eating
I don’t want to
be that physician
who poisons
the children
I hate to be that
trained nurse
who loves
killing
the fetus
I don’t want to
be the
revengeful graduate
who kills
the women and students
I don’t want to
be that agriculturalist
who mixes chemicals,
pesticides, and GMO
in the soil.

Let me
not be raped
in the name
of Education
so, please
do nothing
allow me to fail
and travel the bumps
instead
of landing
a smooth sail.