“Know thyself,” A ‘memento mori’ mosaic from the excavations in Rome featured this ancient Greek aphorism. The aim of education is to know who you are and to know the purpose of your existence. Education must help you acquire morals and values in your life. However, the question is, does the modern school system provides such valuable insights to our students?
From the traditional ‘gurukuls’ to proper classes, the education system in India has undergone revolutionary transformations. Providing free primary education for all the children in India was a great move. The promotion of visual literacy and distance learning has crossed the hurdles of time, place, and distance. But still, does the education system help you to ‘know thyself?’
In the modern school system, everyone is concerned with marks and grades and not morals and values. It is a race to get tagged to numerous degrees, masters, and so on. But pause for a moment and think what it means to you, what its real essence is. The incidents of copying in examinations, bribing authorities, using fake certificates, brutalities of student politics, etc., evidently show the loopholes of our education system.
The deterioration of student-teacher relationships is another danger in today’s world. The established notion of ‘matha- pithy-guru-divam’ has given way to greed and disrespect. Often, we see shocking news reports of students murdering their teachers. On the other hand, we also see teachers who work to earn money without any dedication towards their students.
The books in the school libraries are untouched and hidden in the veil of anthills and dust. Our children have lost contact with our culture.
Examinations are losing their value when incidents like the Vyapam case are burning in front of our eyes. In the Kerala SSLC Board examinations, the education minister got a lot of criticism as the students were given more marks than they truly deserved. A joke goes like this; a student who passed his tenth board exam posted a status on social media saying: “Guys, I ‘passed away’!
According to the UNESCO report of 2014, India has the largest population of illiterate adults globally, with 287 million. This is 37 percent of the global total. When a significant part of the population struggles to get basic education, another part of our country is enjoying a hi-fi culture of centralized air-conditioned classrooms.
Often our education system is constructed to spoon-feeding and mugging up of a hectic syllabus. Our learning must not be confined to the pages of thick textbooks. I feel like it is sensible to be dumb at times to have a curiosity of a child to learn new things. Once you look around with the interest of a child, everything will excite you. And you like what excites you. You learn what you like. That is how it should be.
When letters transform to picture and colors and canoes through your mind, learning becomes an incredible experience. So dear reader, next time when you take your textbook, be it the mysterious Mathematics book or the hectic history textbook, look at it with a child’s curiosity and most importantly, have fun with letters, to “know thyself.”