“Education – And the need to redefine it”
The script and language are probably the most earliest characteristics that developed when man came into being. Whether it was through sign, pictographs or hieroglyphs, language became the most important and necessary mode of communication.

With spread of communication came the ‘knowledge of gaining knowledge’. What is knowledge? It it something that you know and understand and then flaunt? Is it something that makes you prove yourself right in front of an audience?

What exactly is knowledge? The fact that you know touching fire will burn your finger? The fact that you know you will need a sharp object to split an apple? Don’t we teach a 3-year old how to walk and talk? Are you not educating him in that basic step, the basic necessities of life? Are you not educating him with A to Zee’s and then how to join the cat’s, and then how to make up “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”s?

When the child is 14 year old, what are we teaching him? Does he want to solve the volumes of a cube? Does he want to know more about how we got Independence & what was the big deal about the Neanderthal man? Does he really want to draw the parts of a body cell? Would it not be better if they were also taught ‘where’ these lessons would come handy in real life? I call it education with a purpose. When a child is being taught mensuration and is being made to learn 20 formulae that will help him calculate the volumes, areas and surface areas of cones, cubes and cylinders, I think he must also be given a tutorial about where exactly he’d be using these in real life. He needs to know that if he dreams to become a doctor, these would not come handy.. that they would help an engineer make the right calculations. His social studies knowledge should teach him about archaeology and exploring.

Why is it that we push them to get good ranks in all the EAMCETs and CATs and MATs? So that they can get a much-coveted seat in a much-coveted college? Have you any idea that schools have started EAMCET orientation courses from the seventh standard itself, so that every student has to undego it compulsarily, study from morning 6 to night 9 and then come back home utterly exhausted and stumped, only to get up a few hours later for another boring rigmarole? Has anyone thought if any of them wants to be a fashion designer, or a director, then, are we not steaing his/her childhood from him? Is it not a crime to do that to a small child, a 12-year old, who does not know what he’d be choosing as a career, and is made to go through the rut of a different career?

Are we here only to make engineers and doctors? Who will tell the young minds that they have a host of careers to choose from.. that newsreading is a respected career; that interior designing pays big bucks; that he could become a celebrity writer; that he could be another MF Hussain… or Chetan Bhagat?
1. I’d say it’s important to realize that we need to introduce customized courses in schools for children to choose from… obviously not at a very tender age, but say.. from the ninth standard onwards.
2. There is always a stigma attached to a ‘fail’ report card… not being able to pass, should not be made a big deal… every child has his own capacity of grasping things and if he is a bit slow, he must be respected nevertheless and allowed to learn at his own pace and comfort. Hence the need for customized courses.
3. Starting from a young age, apart from the regular science, math, social, english & hindi subjects, schools must introduce:
Personality Development
Introduction to careers
All kinds of counselling
A foreign language.. the choice be left upon the student.
4. Children must be encouraged to take part in social work such as teaching a poor child how to read & write, planting trees and educating public about the same, organizing charity events conducted completely by the students including the actual act of charity, choosing the organization for donation, etc..

Effect of such steps on society:
Students will be aware of what is expected of them as responsible citizens of the country. They are bound to learn sharing and caring. They will have a clear outline about the different paths they can take when they grow up & stand at the career crossroads. They will know how to serve the society while following their chosen careers.

At the end, I’d like to say that right upbringing starts at home and continues through the school days. So, the onus lies not only upon parents but also upon the teachers, to bring up good and proud citizens of India. Teachers wield that power. They can mould the youth into responsible citizens of tomorrow.

© Punam J R., all rights reserved.


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