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“Education to build a better future for all”
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“Education to build a better future for all”

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Ishan Agarwal picThere is a difference between education and learning, writes Ishan Agarwal, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kolkata in India, as he argues in favour of reforms that will promote creativity and analytical thinking in a process that extends beyond the classroom.

Francis Bacon observed about education that “crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them and wise men use them;…Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.”

Much has been written and debated about the mess the education system has gravitated to. The curriculum followed has become stiff and pedantic, leaving hardly any scope for innovate learning.

Nothing, perhaps, weakens one’s creativity more than the demands of conformity; a genius is born every time one broke free. Fundamentals are important; there is no denying the fact. But, for every grammatical rectitude there is that poetic license.

Education today stifles creativity; chokes spontaneity and imagination. It has, at best, churned out millions of literates unable to think.

Education should be that which encourages children to think differently and let their imaginations run riot, even to the point of absurdity. Order has always emerged from chaos, lucidity from insanity!

A recent article on D.H. Lawrence as an educator illustrated Lawrence’s essential humanism and fierce opposition to ‘cerebral consciousness’, as institutionalised education the world over has become.

Education has coalesced into a mechanical life-denying exercise of merely passing examinations and procuring certificates. Lawrence thought so and his revolt against pedantic pedagogy is well known.

Several disturbing questions keep cropping up about education – its role or end, the way or method of dispensation. Are teachers educating – a term essentially edifying in its aim and reach – or merely instructing how to succeed in the evaluation process?

If we want education to give a solid foundation for a successful future, then it should stress more on understanding and less on learning. As Butler said, “Learning is in too many cases, but a foil to common sense; a poor substitute for true knowledge….If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning we may study his commentators”. Learning and education are two different things. Learning is a luxury; education a necessity.

At the basis of Lawrence’s concept of education is the development of one’s individuality, which essentially is not a product, but a process till death.

“Most of us tend to live uneducated lives, in spite of our education; for education is something we pass through, rather than gather,” according to Santosh Desai.

For a better future, we need an education that will give students the freedom to think and speak, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, the freedom to dissent and discuss. Only then will education play its meaningful role in providing a better future to all.

Creativity has a greater chance of blossoming when one thinks outside the box or breaks free from the straightjacket of syllabus and curriculum. Education should not only emphasise developing these skills, but also modern pedagogy should propagate them.

Life and nature are the greatest of teachers. Education should leverage this strength to foster the growth of a certain degree of individuality and an inquisitive and analytical mind, rather than focus on a mass production of identical automatons, so that it could live up to its purpose of providing better futures to the taught.

Just as wealth, security, friendship and good health undoubtedly provide a better future to each of us, education – true education – provides a stepping stone to building one’s character as well as the storehouse of knowledge to bank upon – not necessarily when the going is good, but more importantly when adversity strikes. Bereft of this, none of us can have a good future. We may possess material wealth and comforts, but inner peace and happiness will be missing. Only education can help inculcate values in us.

As Arthur Clutton Brock says, true education, so necessary for providing the foundation to a better future,“ is the achievement of civilization, of people who have learned to discuss without blows or invective, who know that truth is hard to find and worth finding, who do not begin by accusing an opponent of wickedness, but elicit reason and patience by displaying them.”

There is no doubt that education can help provide a better future to each of us as it makes a person humble, not more proud. Socrates was famed for his wisdom not because he was omniscient, but because he realized at the age of seventy that he knew nothing.

Photo credit: Dimitris Graffin Σωκράτης, Ακαδημία Αθηνών via photopin (license)

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About me: I am presently a student at the iconic Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree.

I intend majoring in Mathematics with electives in Computer Science and Quantum Physics, and thereafter pursue either a MS or PhD degree.

I aspire to one day be able to use the superior power of quantum computing and mathematical analytics to transform lives and make the world a better, easier and friendlier place for everyone to live in.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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