Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What’s the problem in being ‘Idiot’?

I guess there is no need to describe the word idiot anymore. Majority of the people know at least its latest meaning, if not the one in dictionary. Still, I would like to repeat it to avoid any confusion in the following text. A person is called idiot if he/she follows his heart and pursues his life in doing what he loves to do. The concept has been appreciated and issues about the educational system has been acknowledged by most of the people, irrespective of their generation or roles (parents-children, student-teacher). It initiated long debates all over the media about our educational system. No stone has been left unturned by the experts and critiques across ever growing number of news channels to pin point the flaws in our education system.

I have serious doubt whether we are addressing the right problem or what we are dealing with is just a long term side effect of a much serious problem? Majority of the children who are not even 5 years old, want to become an engineer or a doctor or take another socially well established professional role. If one goes one step further into interrogation, it will not be very difficult to find out that majority of them ultimately want to be rich and famous. Do you think education plays a big role in the decision making process of 5 years old children? In a country of 1 billion population, hardly 1% people are pursuing their career in arts or commerce or in other academic streams which are not as promising with respect to employment, out of their own interest. Is it completely the problem of education system? The job of an engineering institution is to provide solutions to your engineering queries, make you capable of solving those problems yourself, not to create your interest in engineering. I do not see our engineering institution lagging much behind in that aspect. Then, what is exactly the problem and where does its root lie?

I think, obsession of physical facilities has become one of the most important factor guiding the interests, aspirations and motivation of a person. It is not possible to single out any single social institution or group of people to take its responsibility. Accumulation of wealth has become one guiding principle of complete social structure. How can I blame a person of not being able to find out his own interest in a society where money is projected as the ultimate solution of every single problem in a direct or indirect way; be it fame, health, relationship, satisfaction or happiness. One compromises with everything in his quest for wealth hoping that everything else will fall in place automatically. Does that happen in reality? I will leave that question for your self-introspection. Hunt for self interest, hobbies, likes/dislikes gets lost in this rat race. Honestly, I really don’t have answer to most of these questions for myself. It is not because I did not have time to think about them, but because of my negligence. I did not find them as important as to prepare for the exams/competitions, to complete home assignments or any other activity even remotely related to my future prospects of becoming socially successful. Outcome of this race depends mostly on one’s luck. If coincidentally, one reaches anywhere close to his natural interest, he excels and succeeds. But, probability of such coincidence seems pretty low to me.

I don’t say that education has not played any role in reaching this stage. What will a child perceive when he sees pictures of happier person in good cloths and sad person in poor cloths, pictures of a ideal house (clean house) to be urban/cemented and dirtier house to be rural, in his text books? Naturally, somewhere in his conceptual world, he will fix that it is necessary to have good cloths to be happy and city houses are cleaner than village houses. As a result, no educated person wants to live in a village or to do farming. What kind of education is this which makes me feel inferior instead of developing sense of pride and ownership about my own origin? In fact, I believe that education system can be the most efficient tool to rectify the situation. Primary school is the most important place after home, where a child develops most of his fundamental concepts about society as well as life. There is need of a major overhaul in the education system and philosophy behind it, especially in basic education. Isn’t it an irony that we are still following same British philosophy of education whose major purpose was to generate educated employees and gain a supporting hand from educated society? Education has merely become a tool of developing skills rather than a learning process. More elaborately, it only tells how to do a particular job. But, it has completely missed a very fundamental aspect before that: ‘What to do’? Education has lost its holistic perspective. Education should be able to make one capable of differentiating between right and wrong. It should be able to make a person authentic to himself, and then only one can follow his heart irrespective of prevalent social norms and assumptions. It should be a tool to impart courage and motivation to recognize one’s interest and pursue it with full confidence. Therefore, even though the roots of the problem are deep rooted in social structure, yet education system has a lot to offer. I don’t know how far this movie will force people to think over the issue but it is the high time to take some concrete steps before it’s really late. Educated and aware people will have to take lead, no government or anybody from outside is going to do it for us.