The Education Experience

 

At a time when the government schools are being criticized for a poor show in the recently conducted secondary and higher secondary examinations, we need to take a closer look at the private schools and how they work. Not that they run in a vacuum. They are a reflection of our society in general and the education system in particular.

The higher percentage of pass outs from these schools in the recent years and the comparison with the government-run schools often results in us overlooking the truth. We never ask how these schools manage to get 100% results. How such a high percentage of students get above 90% or 95%. We are ignorant or just not concerned as long as the results are good (in terms of numbers). We do not ask if all the students are capable enough to go up one level. We do not ask what magic tricks are performed on them so that they achieve good grades. Since our standardized tests mostly consist of a set of questions that need to be answered, we need to ask where these perfect answers come from.

The ready-made material provided by schools and coaching centers comes into picture here. Of course, the students have an important role to play; they need to mug up all the material provided to them to “shine” in the examinations. Well, all the students should get good grades if that is the case, you may say. But it still depends on how good you’re at cramming; and, occasionally, on how much you actually know because when you forget what you had learned by heart, you have to fall back on real knowledge. Or, I’m sure, you’ll give me examples of students who did well in life and developed good skills studying in the same schools. How some students manage to develop their skills and innate potential in the same system is a miracle.

If you are not part of the education system, you may have missed it. But, if you are a teacher, part of the management, non-teaching staff, a student, or an observant parent, you know what’s going on. Well, like all of us, you have either gotten used to it or don’t want to fix it. Nobody wants to put in the effort. The students are happy because we are doing the work for them; teachers, because it’s much easier to hand over the material to the students than to teach them to think and write. Of course, if they write their own answers, they’ll learn important skills like thinking clearly and expressing their thoughts in an organized manner. Real learning is humbling. It teaches you to appreciate the process rather than the immediate outcome. You are vulnerable when you are learning something new. You look deeper to find the sources of your strength within you.  But who wants to teach their children that. All they want is money-making machines who when they are talked to, should stay quiet and listen.

Of course, the focus on results is sickening, the worship of results if I may say so at a risk of displeasing those who think they are actually reforming the society by running these schools, the self-proclaimed martyrs for the noble cause of education. And the parents, the innocuous creatures who couldn’t set a foot wrong, they pay a huge sum to the schools. They’ll be disappointed to see their children fail or perform poorly. Obviously, you can’t be so obtuse as to tell them that any honest effort in learning can lead to failure. The schools don’t want to disappoint them because that’s where the money comes from. To counter that, the school management resorts to honourable activities like providing ready-made notes, conducting frequent standardized tests, and curtailing teacher autonomy by micromanaging the classrooms. I’m shocked to see some of these schools claiming to be “Islamic”. Surah al Kahf has a warning for them:

Say, [O Muhammad], “Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds?

[They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.” [18:103-104]

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12 Dec, 2016

The thoughts flitting across my mind say that I should write them down. I should find a language for them. For my peculiar suffering. For if I don’t, I may not understand myself and the depths of my soul would remain undiscovered, uncharted. Abstract thoughts.
But, I want to write about something real. Something that helps me understand myself. To write it down even if I can’t say it to myself or am scared to tell my closest friends. What is it?
What is the web I’ve woven around me? What is the illusion I’m surrounded by, the oppressive images and perceptions of reality that have yoked me to world leaving me exhausted, each day, every day…With no energy left to struggle with the demons, I give in to the pleasures, the emptiness of my beastly existence, as they distract me from my slow, ongoing annihilation.

Egg Therapy

There’s still one night and one morning to go. Sleeping during the night, getting up early and going out for a stroll, what a luxury for some of us who work nights! Wake up at six and go to the roadside vendor, have some eggs and tea. I look forward to the pleasure of that moment all week. The cold breeze nowadays adds to the pleasant feeling. Then you walk back to your place feeling calm as if you’ve been meditating all morning. Early morning walks are psychotherapy. But, then, the time flies by and the realisation dawns on you that you’ll have to wait another week before you can wake up at 6, quickly wash your face, and go out into the early morning sun.

When you love

“When you love, you want to do something in the name of love, sacrifice and serve. ”
I saw her in distress and I wanted to do something to alleviate her pain. My confused, complicated, entangled, twisted self, for once, set me free, give me a moment of clarity. Let me love her. Let me spend some time with her forgetting myself.
She looked so different, as if transformed by pain. Maybe she’s just unwell. Maybe it’s something more. I can ask her. I will ask her.

Waiting for rain

Returned home from gym, stumbled upon a picture of a man with an umbrella. The rains back home are different. Going on walks with my brother. We did nothing. Said nothing. He held the umbrella. He’s taller. And we walked on and on. Just walked until walking any further would take us a step too far from home. Walking was our only respite those days. A respite from our own oppressive state of mind. The restless, unforgiving, cruel, ugly mind.

The mornings you miss

Today, I woke up at 3 am and started waiting for the sun to rise so I can go out and have something to eat. I was hungry. I went to the stall by the end of the road, ate something, and smoked a cigarette. I rarely smoke. Mostly, only, when I have time to kill. I stood leaning on the car, parked by the side of the road, smoking my cigarette. I normally lean on the wall or sit down while smoking. It makes my head go round because I’m not used to it. The weather was gloomy like my mood. I regretted not wearing my shoes. The road was wet. It had rained during the night.

10/10/2015

Life is sacred. Mercy and kindness. Sickness and sin. It had to happen. And it happened because it lied within us. Part of our growth consists of bringing our hidden self into light. Shed the covers like a caterpillar. There’s no need to disown our “shadow”. It’s a process we must cherish. We don’t deny the humble beginnings of our animal self in the form of sperm cells. Why deny the weakness and sickness of our spiritual or moral self. Rather than denying and disowning this part we need to take special care of it. We need to address it with patient love.
If it lies unaddressed, it has the ability to come back to haunt us like an old friend who knows more about us than we do. It will take you by surprise. On the path of self awareness, we need to be accepting of who we are at this moment of life. We want to be good and we want to be perfect or heroic. There’s nothing more heroic than to be patient with your sick soul. Like taking care of a sick friend day and night. But you don’t even want to admit that your friend is sick let alone taking care of him.