By Shalini Nair:
“Goood maaarnniiinngg maadaam, Gaaaawd bleesss youuu.”
“Good morning students, sit down.”
“Settle down fast and take out your book. Okay, first bench, start reading.”
…and so the class went on.
Neither were we allowed to question anything nor think. And 15 to 20 years of an education of accepting anything and everything; following orders of our teachers has made us those people who say “ji huzoor” (“yes sir”) to all we see and hear.
I am just grateful that after all those years of brain-stoning, mine didn’t lose the capacity to think and reflect! They teach us to read and write only to mug up lines from the textbooks, to be reproduced ditto on paper.
I had joined a private school as a Class 7 Mathematics teacher after my masters. A job I left within a fortnight! I was done with the very system of education and had almost decided that if I have a kid of my own, I would never send him or her to school! I would not like my child to reluctantly respect and wish ‘good morning’ to people she found unworthy. I would not like her to read and write on demand and stress herself out with nonsensical assignment due dates.
Being born and brought up in a so called ‘educated’ family, it surprised me when one of my PhD holder (in science) relatives asked me to mop my house with salt water so that, “Ghar me Lakshmi aaye” (“Goddess Lakshmi will bless the house”) I imagined myself saying, “Kya kaam ki hai ye doctorate? Lao me jala deti hu!” (What’s the use of a doctorate? Get it here, I shall burn it.”)
The present reality is apalling. Millions of these creative, innocent minds are taught to blatantly accept and obey, and when they can’t decide what to do with their lives at the age of 18, they are blamed to be dumb and indecisive. First we create slaves and then we expect them to be masters of their destinies. Then there are counselors, psychologists and relatives to rescue you! It’s like deliberately making the child sick and then treating him.
People keep talking of every child being creative, capable and what not; then why do these very people have to stuff these children with what they call ‘knowledge’ and what these children know to be ‘useless things which get 90+ out of 100’.
This makes me question, what use is that science, social science and math we learned when we need someone else to figure out what next to do in life? What use are those 6 to 7 hours of sitting and listening to textbooks being read when you ultimately find yourself mentally and emotionally unequipped to handle the challenges in life? Isn’t it beautiful when a child follows a bird to its nest to see what it does there and comes to tell you his little discovery? What’s wrong when the child actually wants to try out those ‘Try these’ in the textbook and see for herself that sugar dissolves in water, but not in oil? Is it necessary that she first finishes her homework and studies (basically crams) for her tests?
Our deep rooted notions about education need to be undermined and brought to light and perhaps, it’s not so easy to start from the basics all over again. It’s a conscious choice and commitment each one of us needs to make or else life would go on as mechanically and meaninglessly as it used to be. No wonder that a majority of the population is at a loss at understanding why they go on working at places they never wanted to and say, “Karna padta hai yaar, sab aise hi jeete hain” (“We’ve got to do it, my friend. Everybody lives like this”). These very questions will perhaps lead us to a greater understanding of education and its essence, and then finally we would be able to say that yes, we did our bit to end this “‘ji huzoori’ ki padhayi”.