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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Perspective on Education

During a discussion with Chetan (my younger brother) about starting a school, I sent him my perspective on education. Its probably worth keeping on record and even sharing.

The Mythological story about education
God was faced with the question of education for the young ones of various living beings. For all except the man, the answer was fairly simple: The parents will educate the child. In case of the man, it wasn’t so simple for a few reasons. Firstly, apart from the skills required for physical survival, education includes certain mental and spiritual aspects. After all, man has been bestowed with the power to choose and his choices can potentially nurture or destroy. Secondly, there is an inherent diversity among human beings, which is very critical to maintain balance for sustainable existence. Thirdly, the education period or the learning timeline was substantially longer than other species.  
One may identify a few more reasons why education in case of a human being is complex. But what is important is to know how God tackled the question (or shall we say, He’s still tackling it). Given the complexity, it appears to be the job of a specialist. The Indian mythology has probably therefore placed the ‘Guru’ as equivalent of God. Education, especially in the mental and spiritual aspects requires the Guru to be ‘eligible’. Eligibility amongst many other traits would include an understanding of the responsibility he shoulders.
So, when God handed over the eligibility certificate to a few ‘Gurus’, he made it aptly clear to them that 
1. The responsibility is beyond your ‘self’. It is your role and not your profession. Your survival will get taken care of, when you perform your role, but if you make it your profession, it will compromise with your role. 
2. I am being manifested through you in this role. Don’t let it impact your ego. It will create large impact, have a bearing on the history, which gets created. Don’t let it impact your ego. Let your actions flow out of your role, not of you ego.
If I were to take the myth seriously, and if I consider playing some role in the education of human beings, I would infer the following. I am also contrasting it with many educational institutions of today’s times, which though well intentioned, do not fall in line with the myth.
1. The starting point is the identification of the ‘Guru’ and not one’s liking to educate children or his need to earn his livelihood or the need of his ego to create an impact on the society through education. The Guru’s act of educating is not a conscious, thought through act. It just happens. If his role requires any kind of support, there is another role open, that of a supporter or a sponsor. But the driver will always be the ‘Guru’. All decisions apart from those pertaining to education can be of the sponsor, as long as they are subordinated to those pertaining to education.
2. The diversity of human beings and its importance makes it imperative to have a child-specific approach and curriculum. Parts may be standardized, but the whole.