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Cultivating Curiosity: The Difference Between Education And Literacy

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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.

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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.’

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  1. kawalpreet kaur

    i have not read such an inspiring article about are education system before.. absolutely true but i will also like to add that its not in delhi the school or teachers encouage discussion .. the point is dat even if dey do our overall education system dont allow them to so .. as there are so many hindrances like completing d course..

  2. Nikhilesh shukla

    Good article but sadly it dsnt fit wid d indian education system…where ur growth is defined by ur marks only…right from the tym we pass 10th we r taught to crack JEE/AIEEE…so we all jst sit wid books nd start mugging up the thngs..aftrall marks r the only way to make urself entered into these prestigious colleges..moreover it becomes much more difficult when we live in a nation where there is a serious paucity of teachers that too of gud one’s and our whole eduction system is messed up wid corrupt practises..nd mostl of the private colleges/schools are run by education mafia whose only worry is to earn profits.

  3. Aamir

    A heart touching article for me. I being a small town guy can easily relate to the points emphasized in the article by Bhagyashree. I too agree that due to the reasons mentioned by her students from Delhi on an average have good communication skills. Stage fear or fear of speaking in front of a crowd shatters the confidence of an individual which inturn has a bad effect on his overall personality. Its high time to change the system or the paatern in which education is being imparted in most of the schools so that focus does not remain only on academics.

  4. bhagyashree baruah

    firstly,thank you so much for liking my article. secondly, i completely agree with you nikhilesh that our education system sees no point in such discussions and classroom engagements. that is sad. but somewhere or the other, parents and we ourselves can help each other in inculcating the habit of discussing and debating facts. we cannot just sit and blame the society or the system for it. ‘be the change you want to see’, as gandhiji very rightly said. isnt it true kawalpreet? 🙂 and yes, with the semester system , the parrot learning has just accelerated. yet, i believe we can take some time out to discuss things. there are tutorials in many universities and one can attend them to clear their doubts and debate facts(if any) taught in class. thanks again for your warm encouragement. and aamir, I totally understand how we both have experienced. the fear of speaking up is still somewhere inside me. but let us just face it. let us start the change within ourselves. i have started that, and i want you to do so too, will you? 🙂
    thanks again everyone. you have increased my level of self confidence and that will impact on my engagement in class. 🙂

  5. srinu

    very nice article. along with the practical knowledge ,if add values to the literacy .then it will becomes perfect education.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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