“I was Born Intelligent, Education Ruined Me”. This saying, made famous by presenting itself on T-shirts always receives a laugh if not a smirk, even though it is now being overused. Ignorant fools would think that this almost proverbial and witty statement was the outcome of a poor soul who was tired of studying. Well, not completely false, the statement is contrived from the great Albert Einstein’s memorable quote “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education”. Albert Einstein was indeed fed up of his formal education that did not recognize his genius. Thankfully for mankind, he did realize his different sort of intelligence. With this quote he was referring to himself while the derived colloquial statement, refers to rest of the lesser mortals who feel the same way with or without reason.
Why does the quote receive a smile? Does it really hold true, even today? Has education not undergone a tremendous change from Einstein’s time till now? Then why does this sarcastic statement bring about debate if only in the mind?
Take the Indian Educational System for example. It has the responsibility to develop young minds that increase by the thousands with each passing year. How can one come up with a syllabus that adheres to all, irrespective of region? I say region because it’s not only the urban population that receives education but the rural too. Then there are more categories- high and low class, language barriers and more. How can one develop a system that can create incredible performers without the production of mass averages? I’m not saying average is bad but then if averages are allowed to cultivate other interests then it is good. But a sense of un-accomplishment in other fields and being branded as average makes one feel like a complete zero.
The educational system in the state of Maharashtra is called the SSC board- which is fairly simple, as compared to the other ICSE, CBSE boards. I earlier claimed that the SSC board needs revitalization, perhaps something on the lines of CBSE which was considered far superior in terms of the lessons taught. However a social service programme which involved teaching tribal kids the same SSC syllabus that I had studied myself, made me realize how tough it really is for these kids to learn and why a different sort of approach is the need of the hour. These tribal youth were 13-17 year olds who farmed their land in the morning, cooked at nights for the family and came to school in the little free time they had in the afternoon. They did not have time to really understand the material they were thrust with and most often resorted to what even the urban kids do- Mug. They passed the examinations- most of them securing 50percent which was good considering their way of life and how they studied. Being tenth pass doe
s not really matter to them much, but for the few who do want to study more there is the option of coming to the city and making it on their own.
Now here is the problem with this picture. Yes you have more than expected youth who have passed a certain level of education that defines them as being literate. But is that the only purpose of education- to separate literates and illiterates?
What they have in front of them is the chance to be branded as more knowing than the ones who have not studied at all. A chance to be unbranded as illiterate. But does being literate really help in their case? They did study the material provided to them but with no understanding. Like their urban counterparts they didn’t ask why. They just mugged. Also, they do find it difficult when certain city colleges encourage students to research and find answers on their own, since they were used to what is called as ‘spoon feeding’. Most of them return home and get back to what they think they know best- farming. Where is the development in these cases?
Their urban counterparts are no less different. Just add tuitions, classes, extra classes and school and the child is too tired to ask any questions altogether. Rote learning is an easier and faster method of securing a good percentage rather than understanding a concept.
Maybe the solution could be to have different syllabi for all. The rural youth can be taught a subject like different techniques of farming which could be of help and other subjects too which could widen their scope of interest. For the urban the same could actually be applied so that they know what their rural counterparts actually do on a regular basis. Initiating the growth of inquisitiveness, should be the top priority as this system is otherwise producing a whole new lot who take education simply as a mean of formality rather than a means of enjoyment or even development.
While the system needs a change the ones who impart it too need a change of heart. Yes there is a lot of competition and in order to survive, you need to be the best. But the best does not necessarily mean to have great grades and a 99.9 percentage. Whatever happened to an open mind, a zeal for creativity, a penchant for writing? Where the Indian Education system needs revitalization, the imparters too need to change and realize that each student, has different abilities that need to be recognized and nurtured in time and that they cannot be considered unintelligent simply because they cannot seem to get it right while they try to write examination papers.
Let’s change the saying a bit “I was born Intelligent, Education Made Me a Genius”. It may not find a place on a T-shirt but definitely worth a try.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianglanz/3303154926/]