Cultivating Curiosity: The Difference Between Education And Literacy

Posted on May 1, 2013 in Education

By Bhagyashree Baruah:

What is education? Education is knowledge, is the most frequent answer one would come across. But education is not merely gaining textual knowledge, parrot learning is not something the world values. I want to make my point clear with a small lifetime experience. When I landed in Delhi three years ago, life was initially very different. I was someone of whom everyone was proud of as I got admission in the top arts college of India. But as time flew, there was something that was bothering me.


I noticed that during the lectures, girls from my class engaged actively with the professors in various topics and they had questions! They opposed theories that were being taught. I, however, could not see the point behind such questions. I went back to deep thoughts. The fact that I could not raise any question in the class was bothering me. I discussed my uneasiness with my peers who had been born and brought up in Delhi. They told me how such debates and classroom discussions were very normal for them. They assured me that such questions help one to analyse things and understand them better. I tried to recall my days in school and high school but I hardly remembered any such discussions in class. The teacher would just come, teach the chapter and leave. I noticed that many of my peers, who had been there with me during my school, too refrained from such classroom discussions and the professors would tell us to speak up! I pondered upon this and realized that the problem was not with our intelligence, rather the fault was with the way we were educated.

I understood that education should actively involve such debates and discussions in the class, and most importantly this trend should start at an early stage, say from around standard 5th or 6th when students are taught new subjects and concepts. The process of questioning is specifically important for subjects that belonged to humanities which involves various theories and concepts. Many parents or teachers might disagree with me on my point of emphasizing the need for questioning. But I want to tell them that textbook education won’t prepare your child to face the world. Make sure he/she is not just mugging up things to pass the exam. Make them interested to learn by engaging them in classroom discussions; make them throw away the fear of speaking in front of the whole class. This fear might make them a meek person and I have experienced that feeling, so I assure you it’s not a good one. Facts are not facts unless you question and debate upon it. Education in itself can never lead to knowledge until and unless we question and analyse it.

As the famous quote by Einstein goes, ‘’The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.’