Thursday, January 10, 2013

Limits of Education

Education is popularly compared with the glow of a lamp. A lamp lights another without going out itself. Thus spreads the light of learning.

I have seen many ways in which the above doesn't happen. Here are two of them:

One: Your being educated doesn't mean a dime to anyone.

If a friend comes back from a visit to a new place, we become eager to hear from him stories of his experiences there: what he saw, the people he met, what he ate, where all he went. We ask him to share his photos and so on. If someone visits a new restaurant, we ask him about his experience with the food and services there. But if someone comes from an educational journey, why is there so much silence around it? Quite surprisingly, I find the culture of sharing one's deepest and most insightful experiences with the near and dear ones completely missing around us. That's because we relate education and learning with achievements, not experiences. If something is treated as an experience, it pleases all when we share it with others. But when everyone looks at the same thing as an achievement, you must keep quiet about it, lest your sharing any of your thoughts gets construed as bragging. This way, your old friends, your loved ones distance themselves from you fearing you would make unsolicited display of your knowledge and learning to them.

The other one: I feel, is the more serious one. It's the inability of education to reach inward, towards the soul. Here's another long-remembered Sanskrit couplet for you:

विद्या ददाति विनयं , विनायाद्याती प्रातताम 

पात्रताद्धनमाप्नोति धनाद्धर्म ततस्सुखम 

(Education gives humility, humility gives deservingness. From deservingness comes wealth. Weath allows you to do good conduct. And that's happiness.)

I don't feel, education today is designed to give us humility. Just the opposite. It makes us more and more heavy with pride that we can't handle. Our ego, our primal competitive nature to be called the number one, to stay ahead in some or the other competition, finds its expression in our education. Lamentably, this fact gets corroborated in umpteen cases where people, otherwise well recognised as scholars, can't stand others of their creed. Look at the politics in the top academic departments of the country, for instance. How many instances of friendliness, leave alone deep friendship, do you see flourishing among the PhD students or professors of intellectual groups of stellar status? Hardly any? Thousand different things come in their way of sharing amicability: professional rivalry, intellectual rivalry, conflict of principles...While so-called ignorant people would succeed to make up for their differences easily, intellectuals part ways on the slightest of excuses, and nothing can then bring them back together to share the earlier relation.

If our education is making us more and more intolerant, irritable, self-centred and narrow-minded, why on earth would we want others to get educated like us? This education, which doesn't teach us to look at it as a joyful experience but a toilsomely gained achievement, is like a disease. If it makes us forget to love and share, to be happy, to live, it's better to remain uneducated. Instead of spreading light, it draws out what light we naturally have in our souls, and leaves darkness there. Such an education can be shown off to others to make them jealous. It can't be used to make us one bit happier.

Is there a way to become learned which doesn't erect walls: between the learned and unlearned; and between the learned and learned?


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