What to Teach?

Some time back,  I happened to go through collection of writings of some eminent thinkers on education. Their ideas made an indelible impression on my mind.

    Since than,  day after day while teaching the students  of various  classes,  I have often asked myself the question : What exactly am I teaching them? Teaching English is one thing but teaching them things they would find useful is quite another . And it is not quite as simple as that.

    Syllabus  books are sooner forgotten than learnt . Their relevance to the student is only up to the time they have still not appeared in their annual examinations. Where as true education is what survives when that has been learnt has been forgotten.

    However, books learning is what,  in most cases,  our education has come to be. Student are burdened with too many books from very early age. The whole purpose of education for them  is to emerge successful at the end of their examination and then start preparing for the next.

    In the rate race for success in the so-called competitive examinations, it is the students who are worst sufferers. There is hardly any time left in their lives for themselves. The time when they would be able to think for themselves or meditate about the purpose of their life,  and how would like to live it.

    Few realise that examination might not even be the test of their real worth .Charles Caleb Colton,  the British clergyman and writer,  aptly commented : "Examination are formidable even to the best prepared,  for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer."

    Not that book learning is useless or, for that matter,  even the examinations. However, if the education begins with words and ends with words, it can in no way justified. Even the acquisition of more and more degree would not seem to be a worthy goal. The following limerick composed by an anonymous victim of the education system seems to have great merit:

A maiden at college, named breeze
Weighed  down by BAs and MDs
Collapsed from the strain,  'Its, plain
You are killing yourself by degrees'

     If one were to critically consider our school colleges and universities today,  one would tend to agree with George Bernard Shaw,  who said,  "There is nothing  on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school . It is in some respects more cruel than a prison, for example,  you are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor."

     The very word education has its roots in Latin  e-,  + ducers,  to to lead . The process of education is thus to be considered a leading out of what is already their in the pupil's soul . According to prominent thinker,  if it is a  putting in o something that is no there,  that is not what we should call education,  it is intrusion !

        Even the student do not find the class-room teaching based on mere book learning interesting. As I teach I have to painfully struggle to prove the British poet W H Auden's dictum about professors wrong. "A professor is one " Auden wrote,  perhaps from his experience or from those he knew, "who talks is someone else's sleep."

    Most of our  students to into the word with undernourished bodies,  untrained minds and undeveloped hearts. Education today is nothing more  that mere transmission of knowledge, and it can do little to better man's future . What is  the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind ? Let us heed Mark Twain's warning given his inimitable style and take corrective -steps before it is too late . "Soap abs education ", wrote the great author, "are not as sudden as a massacre,  but they are more deadly in the long run.