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WHAT IS EDUCATION ? AND WHAT SHOULD IT BE ?

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These are some famous quotes on education. But down the years they have remained quotes only. The best one I think is alberteinstein1.jpg

This reflects the true nature of education we receive today.

In today’s world, education has become a means for earning a lavish livelihood; a means to equip for a career or profession. The psychology is that if we don’t get a degree from a college or university we won’t be able to get a good job. And this has become the truth due to the effect of “public psychology” (my own term) whereby the norm is to get a degree by any means and then apply for a job. Of course, you require to earn a living but the main essence and requirement of education has sadly been forgotten by students, parents and even teachers. Nowadays, even teachers threat that if we don’t do what he/she wants (like maintaining discipline or doing the homework in time) he/she would cut marks due to the reason that we understand only “the language of marks”. And one day, in some context I told one of my teachers that we come to school to get education and not marks.

The true need for education is to make one stand for eternal values such as truth, honesty, incorruptibility, love for fellowmen and the country and preservation of family values. Education should make a person not only an learned but also cultured human beings. Education should inculcate good (good as considered by the society in general) values in a person and make him inculcate these values in others. Education teaches us to think rationally and not blindly follow any thing. This is the real purpose of education and this is what educational institutions try to do rather than just learning and learning and learning texts. Aren’t the political leaders or the young adults educated ? Then why are many of them corrupt or why do many young adults entering the terrorist groups rather than fighting for the good of humanity ? This is because what is taught in institutions is not education but just what is in the text books. And the cycle continues….

Besides, many a times what we learn in one year is forgotten by us the very next year since what we did was to learn by heart and not understand and remember them not only for exams but also for many years to come so that we can use that knowledge as required.  It is the unspoken truth that even if one has passed any class in school, he/she might as well fail that same exam if he/she were to give that exam again after 4-5 years without any preparation be it Maths or Science or Social Studies (anyone and I am also apart of this truth). Then the conclusion stands that every year so many are passing the exams but not everyone has the capability to pass an exam which would be of a lower class since many a times the knowledge is just mugged up and then forgotten.

Think about it – Say your favourite food is pizza. And everyday you have to have a whole large pizza, three times a day, with some changes in taste and flavour but altogether, for how many days can you continue this routine ? 1 month ? 2 months ? a year maybe ? And we have to study for about 20 years of our life. Would you like to do the same things over and over again ? Be it your favoutite food or your favourite subject ? On top of that every 3 months you would be asked questions about that thing, like pizza in this example. Like who made the first pizza? What are the basic ingredients ? What size should it be made of ? How should you make the dough ? and on and on … I myself like to study Science but I would sincerely say, it is sometimes very boring to study the same thing again and again for exams. How many parents will ask their wards to watch a movie with them one day or give them a holiday and take them to a trip or just provide recreation and do something fun for preventing the monotony of the same thing over and over and over again?  Almost none. Of course we are allowed to use the phone or laptop for some time but it has also become a part of the periodic cycle of life. I would say my life is such that I can predict the events that will occur in the next two years with 99% guarantee.

However, the psychology should be

Education should be to attain excellence, not success… Success will automatically run behind you. 

We should learn to attain excellence. We should not learn any text because it is in an exam. We should learn it because it will help us to increase our knowledge and know more about this vast universe. There are so many things to know and as we get educated we learn that we are just puny creatures in this vast ocean.

Education was created so that we might know about this vast universe. About a few centuries ago, education was totally different than what it  is today. The churches (not in India of course, here we had other religious temples of learning) used to control what people would learn and it was mostly what was in religious texts. Much before that, when the idea of giving education started it was merely to quench the thirst of children who used to ask hundreds of questions. And think what it has become today !

There is another problem in the field of education. Education must be free for all. But educational institutions have started a monopoly and now we have to learn what they want us to learn. Of course, it is important to know about other subjects which we sometimes might not like but is the current situation (mugging up and vomiting in exams) any better ? The idea of giving education was started so that everyone can know more about this world and quench their thirst but today the problem is everyone has to receive the so-called “education”. If values were really taught (which even our national board is trying but failing) then I wouldn’t have questioned this method. How many are learning good values from education and applying them in real life ? Say, a schoolboy (who dreams of becoming a sportsperson) wants more time for training but he/she doesn’t get it because of his school and exams and all that. Isn’t it injustice that educational institutions and social norms have tied him and not allowed him to become a better sportsperson ? Think about Sachin Tebndulkar, the famous Indian Cricket player. Who would go on to ask him his educational qualifications when he has excelled so much in sports? Then why can’t we allow anyone else to spend all his time for practice so that we get another Tendulkar ? (here I must mention that, receiving education upto a certain age like 14 years is a must, but not more.)

Then comes the question of cheating and plagiarism in exams and projects. There is also a cycle in here i.e. first of all, parents pressurise students to do good in exams and then students in fear of failing cheat in exams and then all teachers do is to blame the students. I have 2 things to say. First, parents and teachers please dont pressurise anyone rather help them and instil a sense of positivity in them. Second, students, there’s no use in cheating, all you do is fool yourself. Say a student passes an exam by cheating from others, then he/she forgets that it was the help from others that helped him to pass the exam. He/she might thank the helper but he/she forgets that otherwise he/she would have failed. Then why not prepare better for the next exams and try to check which questions you couldn’t answer and improve yourself.

I would also like to mention a few problems of education in most 3rd world countries so that everyone comes to know about them –

  1. Inadequate institutions- The first requirement for receiving education is an institution where everyone is free to get admitted to. Here, I must mention that institutions are necessary but should not have monopoly over education. Third world countries do not have adequate number of schools/colleges/universities.
  2. Inadequate teachers- Teachers are second requirement and their number is also not up to the mark in most countries. Besides, good quality teachers are more important than just teachers.
  3. Primary Education- Primary education is much worse than other levels since it is the most neglected (but most important education). Besides, teachers in most primary schools might not have the required qualification. Here, another point I would like to mention is that kids are always thirsty for information, they often ask questions beginning with “why”. However, teachers often get irritated and ask them to keep quiet. We, elders, must learn to be patient and answer their questions in the correct way so that they can ask more and want to know more which will lead to development of not only Science but also the country.
  4. Politics in education – Politics has taken a pivotal role in many higher colleges and universities in India and this has sometimes lead to the degradation of the education system.
  5. Poverty- Poverty leads to parents sending their wards to workplaces and not to schools to receive education. This is because their very little salary is a bread earner for the family. Thus, poverty leads to illiteracy.
  6. Burdensome Syllabus- Sometimes, the syllabus is too much for general students and they end up hating studies. The syllabus must not only be up-to-date but also be precise enough to help the student study systematically. The chapters must present the concepts (talking of Science and Maths) in such a way that the students find them interesting and not boring to read.
  7. Psychological pressure on students (mostly in India)- It is the Indian psychology (still now, but not as imposing as the earlier days) that if you don’t become an engineer or a doctor (that too in the best public colleges) your life is not worth living. This cycle continues until some parents who are rational don’t impose this psychology on their wards. Besides, the added pressure is to be a topper in the exams. What is the use of being a topper if all you would do is to earn a lavish income and forget most of what you had studied ? Besides, there is too much competition among students and all this adds up to high mental pressure which some students are unable to withstand. This pressure must not be allowed on students and we should not compete to be successful but compete to achieve educational excellence from where we can work for humanity.

Thus, the irony that we can conclude is that Education which is used to solve problems is itself a big problem.

The solution has to come from the present young generation, who must strive and bring about changes. There can be some very absurd and utopia-like changes like students becoming education ministers who will look after the standard of education and the grievances of other students. In all, education has some problems to be addressed and we require the attention of elders who will actually understand the problem and help to change the way of education.

At the end, I want you to think about this topic and suggest what change we might require to solve the problems of education (not only list but also the others like receiving education in its truest sense). Besides, I would request you to watch my favourite movie “3 idiots” which not only addresses this issue but also brings out some other issues as well.

Thanks for reading my article, please do comment your ideas and feel free to criticize me rationally.

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