Evolution of Education: Jungles to Classroom

Posted on March 8, 2012 in Education

By Ankit Varma:

Education in its most primitive form consisted of training imparted to an individual to prepare him for challenges that awaited him. For instance, a hunter teaching his son the nuances of hunting. Nature was the child’s first classroom and his father his first teacher. Steadily with the growth in human intellect and technology, nature changed roles. It was no longer a teacher but a subject.  We began developing greater understanding of nature. Lightning no longer surprised us. Rains no longer were messages from the divine. This understanding enabled us to explore the gifts of nature. Great universities of Nalanda were exploring the heights of the skies and depths of the mind. All forms of talents enjoyed equal recognition and honour. Nothing in the history tells us that Tansen’s contribution was less than that of Aryabhatt or Kalidas. People have equal admiration for Galileo and Da Vinci.

So what changed between the forests and modern Universities? .Unfortunately the education system which produced the greatest innovators and artists was ridiculed. Greed and commercialisation were introduced under the pretext of modernisation. Education soon became a part of the Industrial Revolution eco system. People were now trained to generate wealth for individuals rather than betterment of humanity. People marshalled all their energy towards acquiring more wealth which itself is an elusive target, one that cannot be achieved. Arts, music, philosophy were no longer in vogue because they did not fetch you high paying jobs. Engineering and science emerged as front runners. A price tag was put at everything form man to a machine. Profit, loss and margin ruled everything from the foreign policies to the welfare budget.

We have created an army of engineers, scientists and scholars. Each one claims to be working for the so called ‘better tomorrow’. We have haven’t taken a step backwards in terms of technology. So why is it that millions are falling into poverty every year? Why is it that religion is posing such a serious threat to the world?

Education is not immune from abuse. It’s a training, which is not always morally correct. Al Qaida’s camps churned out some of the most well trained terrorists in the world who re-ignited the “crusades”. And the Ivy League produced Wall Street bosses who pushed millions into poverty, both morally bankrupt. Education coupled with ignorance and greed is dangerous. A hydrogen molecule can be used to make water or a powerful explosive and of course in the current climate explosives will fetch you much more than water. Decision making is critical, foresight is necessary and comradeship is important. Making progress is good but in what direction? Our education system is increasingly becoming a competitive industry; it lays a lot of emphasis on wealth, academic success, and fame. What is more dangerous is that it talks little about values, team building and foresight. In school we never had a healthy discussion on global warming and terrorism. These might be the biggest challenges a child of today face. But we still continue to over-invest in science and mathematics. Ignorance at early stages breeds abhorrence later in life. An untrained individual will continue to undermine ‘climate change’ and fall prey to the false notions of “religious superiority”. School and colleges should focus on creating individuals who are aware of the ‘big picture’ and understand how grave our problems are. Only then will they be better prepared to handle it or seek solutions.

Our problems are plenty and we need to find solution to all of them simply because we have no choice, our existence is on the line. One should learn to respect individuality of a child. We need to let them make decisions on how they want to live their lives. They are much more than mere fuel to the world economy. This will make us better occupants and earth a better home.