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A Teacher Explains How Today’s Education Is Destroying The Youth’s Ability To Think

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By Ajay Lilrain:

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“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
– Rabindra Nath Tagore

It would not be an exaggeration to say that our intellect is either broadcast through political ideology or through religious theology. Dare I say such intellectuals, through their borrowed intellect, inflict suppression and suppressive thoughts in society and suppression can never be healthy for any civilised society. So, my prime focus is to understand the actual explanation of an intellect. Intellect may be defined as the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract matters. Buddha said, “Do not accept any of my words on faith, believing them just because I said them. Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns, and critically examines his product for authenticity.” If we look this statement, it is absolutely clear that an intellectual can never be a person with stolen thoughts.

According to Dr. Ambedkar, the ‘Test of Justice’ is one of the important tests for a good social order or a society. Social harmony can never be achieved without this test. For ages, we have witnessed turmoil in the social fabric around the world and it is evident that whenever justice was compromised, there was unrest in society. Social harmony is connected with social intellect because social justice is denied only through corrupt social intellect. Diversity in views is one thing but when our society encounters violent clashes over differing views, social harmony gets ruptured.

Actually, our social intellect is a misnomer, it doesn’t exist. In fact, I say, our society never had any social harmony. Whenever anything looks harmonious in our society, we need to explore it more profoundly and we will be surprised to know that people are constantly smouldering inside with anguish and agony. They are resilient either because they are forced to be so or by choice (slightly altering the dialogue of movie A Wednesday). A slight change and social harmony explodes. We need catharsis, a useful term in poetics given by Aristotle. Catharsis in Greek means purification. Society can pretend to be harmonious instead of showing the agony smouldering inside but it is just an attempt to search an opportunity for catharsis.

Education can play an important role in society but the real meaning of education is yet to be understood as we are living in deception. I toil, earn money, pay taxes for the development of the nation but suddenly a cathartic urge destroys that development either social, mental, infrastructural or of any other kind. As a civilised society (an illusion in reality) we just accumulated venom to burn down everything and no ‘Neelkanth’ appears in this Kalyuga. Today a decent looking civilised boy, tomorrow he will set ablaze someone’s hard earned empire mercilessly, without any shame or regret and why would he have those feelings? It’s catharsis, isn’t it?

During the recent Jat agitation in my own state Haryana, I saw many teenagers taking the law in their hands, shouting, fighting and burning public property. The recent murder of a national-level kabaddi player near Rohtak (Haryana) by two youths shocked everyone. Six school girls (Students of class VIII) of the Government Senior Secondary School, Singhpura (Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur) were attacked by teen stalkers with acid and one of the girls’ face was completely damaged. Where are our youth and teenagers going? All of them are supposed to be students today and responsible citizens of this nation tomorrow but nothing concrete and valuable appears to be reflected by such news. They are not in harmony with their own soul. How can they develop a harmonious society?

I have some simple questions. ‘O Almighty, this is your land, your sky; just shower your bliss on us’, ‘O Lord, give us strength to empower our mind, we should always move on the right path without any mistake in our life’ – where is this bliss we talk about in the morning assemblies at school? Are we on the right path? Why do these beautiful poems, moral lectures delivered to us by our teachers and parents not come into our minds while destroying our society. We need to again ask ourselves. What is education?

Alexandra K. Trenfor said, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but do not tell you what to see.” This is my view that rather than a system of belief, a system of doubt should be delivered to the students. I’ll give an example to understand this statement. As a language lecturer, I also teach literature to my students. There are so many reference books available in the market which explain the theme, plot, summary, moral message of every poem and prose pieces but I kept my students away from these reference books and motivated them to analyse them and to understand them themselves. Barring a few exceptions, this experiment of mine was a complete failure.

Take a look at the recent Board examinations in Uttar Pradesh or Haryana. Regardless of all efforts of the administration, students used unfair means without any fear in their examinations. If I compare my secondary examination question papers of 1995 with the present question papers, they are much easier than mine and still the students feel the need to cheat. Education is turning into a business and when anything becomes a business, ethics can be compromised. Hence, teenagers are becoming anomic, irresponsible and highly egocentric today. They want everything instantly, like noodles, in their life. When a senior secondary level student cannot analyse a simple poem with his own viewpoint, how will he become a decision maker in future?

Our thinking capability is in a shambles because we have given them this belief. Literature is the mirror of society. If my student cannot think about any piece of literature, he can’t understand social values nor be able to implement those values in his life. My assumption on Shakespeare can never be your assumption; but in reality, what I understand about Shakespeare is what every student of mine will understand about it. This will only create puppets. Now, we can imagine the consequences of this. If tomorrow I tell somebody to burn a shop, he will burn it because I have already destroyed his thinking faculty. I have no fear of any such questions like: Why should I burn this shop? Is burning somebody’s shop a solution?

I had heard, “What a teacher writes on the blackboard of life can never be erased.” We, ‘the teaching fraternity’ can never run from our responsibility. Maybe offensive, but whatever we write will project in the society tomorrow.

We need to understand that education does not reside in books, marks, certificates, diplomas and degrees only. It is beyond these things. Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” We can prepare the mind to crack any exam but just minds are not sufficient for society. We need to enlighten the soul. The sole purpose of education to develop character and a human being. The objective of being a human is to explore new paths in our consciousness, to know that all discriminations in this world are the creations of pernicious minds, and to develop compassion for the fellow human being.

You must be to comment.
  1. Deepmala

    The way author raised such an important issue is worth praising. All the students and teachers must take this issue in their knowledge and should work upon it sincerily.

  2. Tanya

    Thank you, for thoughtfully writing out this article.
    The points and thoughts raised by you are valid, justified, simple but sadly missing from our lives.
    All sensibilty but no sense.

  3. Chayan gera

    It was so meaningful reading your article sir. We have actually lost our real intellect, just because education has become like any other business today. There is no real understanding or learning, only mugging up for the sake of standing up on high scores and competetion. In the end we are only degrading as a society, even with all the gadgets and technology in place.

  4. Atul sharma

    Great enlightening article !! Truly education of mind and body may be given in schools but soul is left out and certainly the questioning faculty and urges to know and understand are mostly suppressed from the beginning by our society and families.. look at how a child is often discouraged from asking questions and questioning everything around… hope policy makers try to reinvigorate the soul of our society which will ultimately lead to true catharsis

  5. Ange Kenos

    I used to be a teacher. I always taught my students to think.
    Some would always complain to the Principal class but I never changed my style –
    my role was NOT to give them the answers NOR to teach rote memorising but to guide
    them to use their own brains, their own senses.
    I mentored them to believe in themselves and NOT to rely on me and those who listened
    excelled. But some so called superiors and colleagues never agreed with me despite my
    results almost always passing theirs so they attacked me, stifled me and eventually
    forced me to quit. The authorities did not care at all.

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