Jose Michael
on 07 August, 2013

Old Education

These days we often come across old grainy pictures of "Classic Bombay" and we give out a collective sigh - How we wish the city was what it used to be. How we wish things looked so picturesque and perfect. What with the city's beautiful band stand with its collection of jazz bands and old school cars decorating the streets, as opposed to choking it these days. In a way the same can be said for our old "academic scholars", too. India had a period of producing some of the brightest people the world has ever seen. Yet, with today's mass penetration of "education" that now covers a much wider amount of people, we see that we don't anymore produce the intellects and have instead started mass producing just-above-literate drones. This really caught my attention and I decided to plunge myself into this rabbit hole.

What I found after some soul searching through this country's history can be termed as both simple and yet overlooked. The question I kept asking myself was where did we lose our Ramanujans and Ramans? Was it just some "decline in intelligence over generations" thing? But I soon realised that the answer lies in education and educators than the people themselves. I doubt our genetic makeup has changed adversely over the few decades to affect our intelligence in any way. But our educational system sure has. Education, which was once highly looked upon, is Scoffed Everywhere.

Education used to be like water to a parched throat in the olden days. Today, it's like the alcohol a broken hearted teenage chugs to forget his misery. It's lost its purpose by all means and we're simply a weaned lot. And the change, according to me, happened in one of the simplest attitude shifts with some of the most crucial people to this system - the teachers.

The teachers stopped being inspiring and motivating guides and took upon themselves the role of a (forced) guardian (or a warden rather) who's sole purpose was to push this immense crowd from one gate to the other. Where once used to be heartfelt words are now rehearsed platitudes as weak as penicillin to the modern ills. And the more they took upon themselves this liberty of almost imposing a second parenthood (I'm sure we've all heard that teachers are second parents and what not) the more they felt they had the right to dictate exactly what the student must do, not just with their academics but with their lives too. Mix that in copious quantities of ego and we have, quite literally, given birth to a new form of cancer. Now this deadly cycle continues because the people who now sign up to be teachers have only these abominations as their role model because frankly that's the only type of teaching they've ever seen. Situation snowballed and we're where we are today, in a country where the majority of the students want to run abroad at the slightest chance.

So I ask again, where did we lose our Ramanujans and Ramans? Ironically the answer could be quite simple. We just never "found" them. We failed to awaken their curiosity with the rote answers and the dogmatic ideas of what education is. What we did find though is a million people now with a piece of paper that says they're "qualified". Was it worth the trade, really?

Just to stress my point, I'd like to point to the fact that after an IT company hires "engineers" from a college they give them two months of compulsory training. It's the same irrespective of what the engineer majored in. Wait a second!! I thought studying was more like "preparation" for work. But if you have to take training again anyway, exactly what did we achieve in those brutal four years?

I'll let the readers answer that. My only hope is that of a better future. Both for the citizens and consequently for the nation. But then again, they say hope dies last.

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Jose Michael

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