Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Education generally is understood as a process of imparting or imbibing knowledge. It starts even as a baby who cries when hungry and learns that feed materialises as a result! A toddler learns from experimenting or by parental instructions. Much of the inputs – attitudes and values - received during childhood mould the core of your character and habits as this early education lays the foundations of your psyche. The perspectives and prejudices acquired during childhood get carried over to adult life, often needing great efforts to learn new paradigms or to unlearn what has become part of your personality.

Education – preparing you for life?
Discussions about education are generally centred either on the relevance or otherwise of the system to the economic needs of the society or whether the institutions are preparing our children adequately for success in a competitive world. Recently the Parliament adopted the ‘Right to Education Act’, ensuring free and compulsory education to all children. However, several experts have voiced their disappointment that its provisions are inadequate to be able to achieve the goal or to provide the education that will truly empower the recipients.

Reputed institutions prepare their students to corner the best jobs and make them ‘smart’ at getting the most out of society. Do they also train them to live harmoniously in a community? What about their deeper life and the notion of finding satisfaction and contentment by giving our best regardless of returns? What use is an education that enables you to earn well without equipping you to live well -happily in harmony with others and with Nature? This issue of ‘disha’ tries to address some of these concerns.

Over 500 students from business, mass communication and IT institutes attend residential programmes at Asia Plateau (AP) each year. During their three days in a relaxed and reflective atmosphere when they hear the deep sharing from facilitators, they drop their masks. It is heart-rending to hear their stories of pain and insecurities stemming from a background of broken families or bickering parents. Many mend their relationships and we witness moving scenes of reconciliation and honesty among the peers. They see a new future for themselves and we hope they walk the road that leads to it.

Educators from India and abroad meet at AP every summer to reflect on how to make their pupils fit for a fulfilling life, not just for a lucrative career.

Senior boys from a reputed Panchgani school found new unity among themselves, ending fights and groupism. Encouraged, the principal arranged a one-day programme for all her teachers! This will be an annual feature, she said.

Conscious of it or not, all of us are teachers as we are also learners. What our family, friends or acquaintances ‘catch’ from us will be from whatever we have within us. If each of us can be the person we expect others to be, that in itself is a valuable gift to society. Needless to say that learning goes on life-long and as your ‘Inner Self’ grows and blossoms, life around changes too.