WHAT IS EDUCATION

The renowned educationalist K.K. Pillai in his book Curriculum, teaching and evaluation has said, “Education is defined as an activity of life, by life and for life.  Education is a venture of faith – the faith that there is a divine spark in every individual far beneath the surface of flesh and marrow; and it is possible to realize this ‘Self’.  Thus education is considered as a process of Self realization”.  

Swami Vivekananda often said, “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man”.  Education must help a student to manifest his hidden abilities.  Knowledge is inherent in man; only thing is he should bring it out by education.  Quality education targets this purpose.  Education must give confidence, general knowledge, subject knowledge and it must train us to overcome obstacles and hindrances in life.  A person’s talents and knowledge are hidden by ignorance.  Ignorance is the main reason for all the difficulties in life.  The education we receive must remove that outer crust of ignorance. 

Education is a continuous and life long process.  It is ignorance to claim that ‘I am a completely educated person or I have completed my education’.  We may have completed our degree; however education goes beyond medals and degrees.  Education must make a person extrovert and inclusive.  Education must morally, intellectually, physically and spiritually uplift a person.  Quality education always develops a person’s body, mind and soul.  Body must be nourished by appropriate food, yoga and exercises.  The conscious and subconscious minds must be taken care of by implementing good positive ideas.  Soul must be satisfied by giving spiritual knowledge.  Therefore, a best education system must include intellectual knowledge and spiritual knowledge.  Students must be trained to have control over the five senses and they must be given knowledge to control the mind.  If all these basic aspects of education are not addressed, then the education we receive will uplift us intellectually and drag us down in the other three areas namely, in moral, physical and spiritual levels.  The present education system mostly targets the intellectual capacity of a student.  As a result he is safe by position, status and financial abundance; however, he suffers emotionally, physically and he feels spirituality as unwanted.

Education is a gift of life.  Not all are exposed to the right kind of education.  Many people think that learning to read, right and to speak good English is education.  It can be called as literacy.  It is only the beginning of education.  English is a very good language of international acclaim.  That is all.  Education is far more than a mere language.  A language alone cannot mould a person.  One must know to use the language in the most productive manner. 

Education must bring out the best in man.  The knowledge we imbibe through various ways form our character, strengthen our mind and improve our intellectual capacity, so that a person becomes a self reliant person in every way.  Does the education we receive today satisfy all these qualities – It is a big question which the parents, teachers, educational institutions and curriculum developers have to think about.

THE PRESENT EDUCATION SYSTEM

The present education system targets materialistic gain and authority through position and status.  Any skill can give these gains.  If a student is not trained morally and spiritually at the young age, then he can be powerful and rich but he will be an insecure person.  Success in terms of money and position, without maturity of mind, will make a person arrogant and he leads an insecure life.  This type of education system targeting material gains has been going on for many years now.  Reflection of such an education system is seen in the society; it is common to see many highly educated people being weak minded and frustrated.  

In the rat race to hold degrees, the quality of education, morality, creativity, basic interest and talents are sidelined or ignored.  As a result, such type of education opens up a Pandora’s Box of degree holders and not the real educated people who help the society.  These degree holders are spread throughout the world and encourages bringing the next generation of same type of degree holders.  The present education system fails to make a student to be well versed in a subject.  Even the rank holders in a particular subject have an average knowledge in the subject.  Education system tries to cover a lot of subjects touching each one a little.  There is no continuity or connectivity in the subject they study and students just select the subjects which have job opportunities with good salaries.  Ultimately students lack deep knowledge or specialization in a particular subject.  Students are trained to get cent percent marks, their creative wings are cut and they are tailored to fit in the present education system.  Students are given projects without proper guidance or care and the students in turn look out for some people whom they can pay and complete their projects.  What is the purpose of such projects?  Neither useful for the students nor for the society.  All these give unnecessary pressure to the students.  Today’s students are emotionally so weak and they are not trained to handle even a little pressure.  An education system failing to understand the pulse of the student will not lead them to an intelligent path.

Education has become a lucrative business in the society today.  Education targets the parent’s money and has a little aim for the student’s individual talents and interest.  This leads to frustration in students.  Any intellectual and frustrated person will harm the family and society.  His education is a burden for others.  The present education has been narrowed to a profession meaning it has little or no significance to life.  Such education only leads to conflicts, misery either in the personal or the professional level. 

There are many school boards existing in India, each one following their own curriculum.  When all these students from different boards enter college education, are the curricula offered by the universities  prepared to handle their diverse intellectual capacities? if not there will be difference in the way they qualify out of the higher education.  What is wrong in having a uniform education board at the school level?  What do the students really gain from such different school boards?  What is more absurd is – to enter professional courses students from different education boards have to face a common entrance examination.  All these create an aversion towards education for the student.  How can such diverse education boards break social barrier, which is supposed to be the main objective of education?  It is a mechanical way of education.  It makes a student’s life more chaotic. 

It is very good and important to have quota system based on community and economy.  It gives an opportunity and financial concessions for the economically and socially weak students to pursue their interest.  However, it must not give concession to have a degree without being really qualified for it (giving them a pass mark because they belong to a socially weak community).  If this happens then a Pandora’s box of degree holders will be produced and this is one of the main reasons for unemployment.

BASIC NEEDS FOR A QUALITY EDUCATION

1. First and foremost, the education system must not give over pressure to the students at the same time it must not keep them idle too.  Intellectual knowledge along with spiritual knowledge must be taught to the students; only then they will have the emotional and mental strength to deal with various pressures in life with emotional stability.  Spiritual knowledge means it is not making them a monk or sanyasi.  They must be taught the basics of life and must be given practice in any recognized method for emotional control; else they will not know to handle stress in life.  The main problem with the present education system is the present system is giving pressure to the students and the students are not able to cope up to that pressure. 

2.  At the school level, the students must be taught the importance and relevance of each subject in practical life; else they will not develop interest in a subject and just like the flock of sheep they follow the subject which is trendy in the society.  Many students study engineering and medicine because they blindly follow the parents or the society.  They are not aware of the importance of other subjects.  Education must relate to each person else it is an artificial education.

3.  Students must not be psychologically tortured with the study material by the teachers or parents.  If a student finds interest in studies he cannot remain idle without studying.  If a student is not interested in studies, the teachers and parents must try to find the reason behind his disinterest.  Instead, if they blame him or torture him mentally or physically it will only make the situation worse.  One cannot show the right path to a person by blaming or arguing with them.  Only by encouraging a person one can correct a person.  It is a basic human psychology.  Even a very poor student in studies must be encouraged with patience to study well.

4.  Education must go beyond gathering of information.  It must instigate the young mind to think deeply with concentration.  It is very hard to find students thinking in a very deep and proper way.  Our education system, teachers, parents, family or anyone in the responsible position do not teach us to think.  They teach us everything else other than to think.  Right thoughts make a person and wrong thoughts destroy a person.  The problem with today’s students are, because of the technological advancement, they have wide knowledge, but their knowledge is not deep.  They lack concentration.  Their mind is drawn in various directions.  Their knowledge must be channelized lest their knowledge is a waste. 

5.  Today’s children have a lot of comforts and too much of physical comforts dampen the creative mind and make them emotionally weak.  Students must be made emotionally strong at the young age itself; else they will easily succumb to even silly difficulties in life.  Impatience and not knowing to handle situations lead many students to the drastic step of suicide.  If a student does not know to handle even this pressure, then how are they going to handle profession and family life in future?  Probably, this is one of the reasons they fail in any one of them – either professional life or family life.  They somehow manage the profession because they need salary and position, so their next choice is to break up their own family and the result is many emotionally weak broken families in the society.  Education must give us independent way of thinking but not arrogance.  If arrogance and non-adjustment is our way of life then it destroys our peace of mind.  Students must be educated about life in the proper way.   

6.  Pressure cooker way of life at the very young age disturbs the mind in a drastic way.  Nowadays, it has become a fashion to employ psychologist in the educational institutions itself.  Why?  Are schools mental asylums?  This only shows the inability of the parents and children to handle their own wards.  If the parents and teachers cannot handle a student or a child, then what is their role in their education?  The students must be made to understand the need of education in life and its benefits in the right way.

Emotional quotient can be only raised by spiritual quotient.  If the soul power depletes then the emotional, physical and intellectual power depletes automatically.  Intellectual power without spiritual power only gives arrogance and it is wrongly mistaken as self-confidence.  Self-confidence makes a person humble and it makes a person adapt to situations easily.  Therefore, along with subject knowledge atleast a basic spiritual knowledge must be introduced at the junior, senior and higher levels of education.  Intellectual knowledge and technology without wisdom is not good for mankind.  We all see its repercussion in the society today.  We all are affected by its negative effects in many ways.  A person is what his thoughts have made him. 

Education must physically, morally, intellectually, and spiritually uplift a person; else it is waste of money and energy.  Education and learning are life long process.  Therefore, the education a person receives must encourage him to learn and not just to get marks and earn a living.  By learning, we accumulate knowledge and we act from that knowledge.

It is very common to see the highly educated people, people with status in society and highly successful people in the society with very weak, sick, frustrated and non-contented mind.  If this is the case, then what is the quality of education they received and what is the quality of life they lead.  Education has uplifted them intellectually, but degraded them emotionally, morally and spiritually. 

CONCLUSION

1. Intellectual knowledge must be combined with spiritual knowledge, only then there will be responsible, self-confident, contented and successful educated people in the society.  This uplifts the society at a large level. 

2. A marginal difference will come if the grade system is introduced back in the education system.  This reduces the pressure and the unnecessary competitive spirit in the students mind.  Competition is healthy but if it exceeds a limit then it spoils the mind.

3.  It is very important to encourage intellectually good students.  At the same time, it is the duty of the teachers to uplift the intellectually average and weak students.  It shows the teaching capacity and the intelligence of the teacher to uplift the intellectually weak students.  Only 10% of the students will be intellectually good students.  It is the challenge of the institution and teachers to uplift the rest 90% without discouraging them emotionally.

Education has improved and gone far away, very widely; but how deep it has gone is a question.  Only the future will say whether the dreams of the renowned educationalists views about education will be satisfied or not.  Let us wait and watch.


Advaitam and Science