February 5, 2009

“Education is a progressive way of discovering your ignorance”

If we are still not sacrificing bulls and rams to the Sun god, the Rain god to favor our causes; or if we’re not allowing ourselves to be oppressed by the stronger in the society, we should thank education, which has progressively got us out of our ‘painful’ ignorance, and helped us understand and reason out as to what causes these changes around us...

Well, in the context of India - if we, around the table are discussing this topic, we owe a great deal to education reforms which has brought out India from the label of ‘underdeveloped’ nation, and a growing economy, so much so that we now talk about being a super-power in the coming years. Did we dream of the same about 60 years ago when we were reeling under the rule of British or just cluttered with teething issues after gaining independence? The social evils including the riots, class and caste discrimination, superstitions, the vast ethnic differences dividing India within have all weakened the nation within. If we can stand up today and speak that we have in an effective manner dealt with most, if not all of those, we should thank education and the institutionalization of education practices across the nation and stabilizing them. Thanks to the educated lot and intellectual minds which have scripted the constitution of India, which has laid the foundation to a progressive society and nation at large. Thanks to the bearing of Indian constitution which provides all Indians free and ‘compulsory’ education. Nonetheless we have miles to go still…

Why talk of India alone? Move out the borders, and we see how the world has got positively impacted by education. Seen the latest buzz around Obama, who hails from the black community? Blacks were the slaves, but today the American society has reached a landmark where a Black man rules the United States of America. Had it not been for education, would they have been out of the clutches of bondage even yet?

Curiosity is innate to a man. To explore is a way of living. From a new born baby which uses its senses to identify and bond with its mother to a toddler who goes exploring things with his mouth to a teenager who explores new grounds for a simple reason of ‘knowing’ shows that we have a basic desire, even an instinct to know, and explore; in that we discover our ignorance. The body of knowledge in the whole world in every sphere is a testimony to how far our search for more knowledge and discovering ignorance about people, places and things has reached. It’s all to discover our ignorance and know even more.

Man, since early civilizations has identified this innate instinct and the growing need to explore and have designed ways and means of formalizing and instituting methods of enabling individual to gratify this need, and so schools as a formal means of education has evolved. From the early civilizations in Egypt, where priests used to teach formally in temples, to the gurukuls of India where sages taught even princes on the various arts, administration and philosophy, we’ve come a long way.

A lot has been done, a lot yet to be done, and through the process of discovering our ignorance, as many questions have sprouted showing us new grounds to break through and explore further. And even as scientists, sociologists and educationists press on for newer methods and innovation to make education even better, yes, it only corroborates the statement that education is a progressive way of discovering your ignorance, indeed!
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