By Haryax Pathak:
Hi there! Today, we are going to have a nice talk. So, let’s start.
I want to talk about our prevalent education system.
To me it’s not a system, it’s a code. One code that is applied to everyone, and then, copies of the same programme are generated. Some programmes function, some don’t. And that is what is wrong with it.
I recently read a letter that a school student wrote to the HRD ministry. He said today’s education system is promoting a rat race in which the winner (of the race) gets a six figure income. Bang on point. However, that’s not the only thing I’m going to focus in here. I have a lot more to say.
The rat race he is talking about is inevitable. If not in school, one will certainly face it later on in life. I’m facing it in college. But a school student should not have to face it. Schools constitute the base for any individual. It is where every vice and virtue is obtained. It is the defining foundation for an individual’s character, let alone his knowledge and intelligence. Isn’t it pathetic that today, a student has more vices than virtues, ultimately defeating the aim of this system with zero-intelligence? Students have the knowledge but only from textbooks.
Ask any student – when did the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occur? And they’ll rightly tell you – August 6 and August 9, 1945. They’ll also tell you it was America, responsible for the bombings because that’s what they read in their textbooks.
Now, this piece of information and the details about the incident, do they make any difference to you? Facts, numbers and dates. I don’t think they mean anything. But I do have some questions about the same incident, which mean a lot to me. Which I’m sure will mean a lot to you too.
I ask why did America have to use the atomic bomb in the first place?
I ask why was the second bomb dropped three days later when the whole world was still measuring the effects of the first one.
I ask why did those innocent people lose their lives for no fault of their own?
I have many more. But I assume you get the gist. These are the issues a student must be concerned with, getting to know the ‘why’s behind such things. But rarely does someone come ahead with such questions. And if he does, he doesn’t get the answer. All he is told is, remember the dates and the numbers. They are part of your course for the exam. Don’t bother about anything else.
We need to cultivate their thinking capabilities while we still can. School is the one place where it is possible. During school, the base is built. That’s when you can mould it. You cannot alter a building’s foundation after building its top floor.( If you think you can do it, well, either you are a high-level optimist or a really bad architect!!)
So, now that we are making the students think, what do we want them to think about? (Apart from exams, of course.) We want them to think on how to be not only a good student, but also a good human being.
Nobody likes villains (except Heath Ledger’s Joker). Children are taught Ramayana and told to be like Lord Ram, not Ravana. Well, I have something which might change your views.
Ravana was an asura. True. He got that from his mother, who was an asura, his father was a Brahman. But very few know that Ravana was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. And he was also a staunch follower of his principles as a Brahmin as well. Everyone knows how Lord Ram and his army built the Ramsetu to cross the sea to Lanka and brought an end to Ravana. But apparently, it could not have been possible without Ravana himself. Here’s how. Lord Ram was a Kshatriya, a warrior and only a Brahmin could build Ramsetu. And it was Ravana who helped Ram lay the foundation stone for it (a ritual which is required to be performed by a Brahmin). Ravana knew that the building of Ramsetu would mean his demise. But he also believed that he had a greater duty towards God as a Brahmin. He conducted the ritual despite the imminent threat.
This is a story not many people are aware of. Ravana wasn’t a bad guy. His only fault was his asura descent. My aim here is to highlight the fact that Ravana fulfilled his duty towards his God and stayed true to his principles. That is what makes him a good guy. And this is what children need to be taught. Principles. Duties. Not just the ones that are written in their social studies book, but the ones that make them a good human being first.
Japan has a unique education system. The starting few years of school, education is all about teaching the children moral values and sculpting them into good human beings. Education is not just about marks and grades. They matter, yes. But knowledge is a must. But it is also about how we are preparing the future generation of our country for the challenges that lie ahead. They need to be equipped, not only with facts but also with skills. Not only with memory, but also with ability. We read about terror attacks and shootouts every day. If you teach a child how to use a gun, he’s going to use a gun. Teach him to use his mind, he’ll use his mind.
The ideal system would not only impart knowledge but also cultivate wisdom. Knowledge will follow, but wisdom comes inherently.