the idea of Education!

It’s a very common sight people talking about the next door kid being intelligent because she has scored highest marks in the class. Is this the only definition of intelligence? In our society, definitely yes. I have never seen in my life someone calling a person intelligent for any reason except academics. There are intelligent sports persons, intelligent artists, intelligent dancers. Why don’t we acknowledge their intelligence as often as we do in case of academics? It is a question that has been on my mind for a long long time. The answer to this question lies in our education system.

We all understand that any education institution helps us develop an attitude towards various aspects of life. This is the most important attribute of that institution that we carry throughout our lives. All the knowledge, facts and information that we gain during our education are less important in this ever changing world. There are two reasons for that- first is because of fast technological changes today what we learn today might be irrelevant tomorrow. At that time we cannot go back to school and learn the new concepts again. What we need is more adaptability rather than information. Secondly, in today’s world all the information is available to and can be accessed by everyone. There’s no need to remember anything. Now in this scenario, our education system should teach us how to do the things rather than telling us what to do. One key aspect of our education is that it enhances our basic problem solving ability and which is really very important. Most of our education revolves around these two things- remembering facts and solving problems and we assume that our education has prepared us to the challenges of life. My only concern is -the kind of problems that we solve in our classrooms and the way we solve them, does that really nurture our talent? If not, then the way we define the intelligence which is based on the results obtained in this education system cannot be right.

 Let’s talk about the real life, the life after our formal education gets over. Most of us go in to the different walks of life and very few become scientists – ironically most of us were prepared for a scientist career during our education. Only theory… No one ever taught us how to deal with the pressure of work load, how to manage our time, how to come up with new ideas, improve our imagination. There are so many other things they could have taught at school yet they focused more on Bell curve and schrodinger’s equation which were of lesser relevance in real world. When we are starting our career, many of us do not have much idea what we are getting in to and that’s not a problem. We learn as we work along. The problem is that the whole point of getting a degree comes to get a job and then unlearn all the things which we have learned over the years because they were pretty much useless. This is a very serious problem and it’s the main cause for the inflation in education. The same job which required high school certificate twenty years back now requires a college degree and so on. There’s a race everywhere to get higher degrees but no one cares about a good basic education and therefore suffer, in spite of all these degrees.

Now some of us might wonder -what is wrong with this. People are studying, they are getting jobs and that’s the way life is going. Fair point, but we need to understand how a bad education system affects our society and our day to day lives. Indian society for that matter can serve as the best example to illustrate the effects of poor education system. We see a number of unlawful, immoral and unethical acts around us everyday. From people spitting everywhere, road rages, domestic violence to  rapes, crimes and similar serious issues. The right education can prevent people from getting indulged in such acts and make them a better citizen. This is one aspect. Another aspect is that the right education also prepares us for difficult situations in life and how to face them. It not only prepares us for a 9 to 5 job but numerous other things where we really need to use our brain, our knowledge and preparation. A person who saves others lives during fire is not just foolishly courageous but equally or more intelligent than the one who solves lengthy calculations.

I am coming back to the point where i started. What is intelligence? Is it confined to the logical part of our brain or it also includes the creative part? We all know the answer but we hesitate to accept it and bring it in our lives. Somewhere in our minds, lies the image of a scientist as the intelligent person but this is the time to accept the reality. We know Einstein was intelligent but so were Mozart, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Gandhi and many other people. The major problem that we are facing today because of this mindset is the fact that people are rushing to only few careers which they feel are suitable for their intelligent children. These careers are mostly related to science and its applications and are more about secured jobs. No doubt we certainly need intelligent scientists, engineers and doctors but at the same time we do need intelligent cooks who can create new dishes, intelligent players who win games through their presence of mind, intelligent directors who make well researched movies, intelligent drivers who can avoid accidents and the list goes to infinity. This is the time for a change. We all need to make small efforts to shift the mindset of the society so that every one of us can achieve his or her best potential and enjoy our lives.

Take care, stay happy 🙂

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