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The Meaning of Education

A thought have been troubling my mind for last few days, well, one thought of many which my mind keeps turning back to every now and then. Although, the thought of the an environment that resembles the one wonderfully explained in the "We, The Living" by Ayn Rand, who took the writing to a height at which aphorisms and epigrams float and literature merges with philosophy, which I found in Kerala. Unfortunately, away from the scrutiny of people on the North of Vindhya, a land exists which takes pride in high literacy rate which is part of school studies, but where extortion by trade unions is a matter of day to day life, which is so common that it does not raise the eyebrow of the perpetrator of such broad
crimes committed in the name of communism, people paying ransom for just and legal work to the unions, even when they get it done through their own means. I suddenly felt pride on being on the other side of the divide, being from what is termed as "badlands of Bihar".
Notwithstanding the absurdity and acerbic nature of the letter of a Madrasan, a blog written some time back by a Delhi based South Indian lady, which went viral, I suddenly felt happy of being from the area where such crimes are not happening in broad daylight with the swagger and pride of righteousness, rather with a deep sense of shame and sorrow, when it does happen and add to than Sabarimala for all the talk of the Madrasan regarding the great evolution of feminism in the south.

But then, these are the matters for the too young and too old to worry about, people who are precariously resting on the middle of the divide like me, are busy worrying about other things in life, for instance, getting kids admission in decent school which eventually could lead them to a life in which they do not end of questioning the capability or intention of parents to position them for a better life in the times to come. I could finally get her through to two schools close by, namely St. Paul and St. Mary's. While a popular website, which acts as friend, philosopher and guide to all parents looking at nursery admission, rates St. Paul better than St. Mary, the newspaper, last year had rated the latter in one of the top ten schools in Delhi. Disappointed at not having any strings to pull and sorry at not being able to make it to any school which could figure in the dinner discussion of the elite south Delhi gatherings, I tried to find solace seeking confirmation with a silly, age old question from the school," How are you in terms of academic?". The question was a desperate attempt to seek consolation award of barely good father, and deserved no answer, and no answer did come forward apart from a glance from the dignified lady principle of the school, which made me regret the question at once.
The more I thought of it, the more solidly the stupidity of my question stood up to me. While the question could elicit no better revert than an icy glance, had the knowledgeable teacher by any chance thought that it deserved an answer, what could have been the next question, " What is the maximum marks that class XII student scored in Mathematics last year." Damn, what was I thinking. No, I am not a mathematics scared soul, which shudders at the thought a problem from Integral calculus. But than, what I have understood in all my life, my respect to the great emperor of France, also termed by some as revolution-killer, notwithstanding, as he had termed History and Mathematics as the most critical of the subjects for one's growth in life or decline by the lack of it; a man's or woman's growth in life is not to be measured by how quick he is on maths. A better person, in my humble opinion is one with his sense of ethical behavior secured solidly in his person and a person, with a capacity of being courageous and happy at the same time. That is the primary thing for a child to achieve to be. I have, by virtue of transfer of my father across the country studies in multiple schools, and what study of all those classes I remember most fondly comes from the one which I went through in a moffussil town of Guna in MP, where I had studies through class XI in DAV School in Hindi medium, while I translated the lectures myself into English and sat through the exams in English and finally the class of mathematics by Father Davis (who was so quick and sharp that I always found difficulty figuring out why a man of his calibre was based in such a place) and a teacher of English, name Princy teacher, who told us the great poetry by Pablo Neruda, "Tonight I can write the Saddest lines" which struck a great chord with young minds, all invariably impressionable and all incredibly capable of being in love, and who actually first time exposed me to the idiosyncrasy of language when she explained "Rendezvous" is not read as "rendezvous" rather as "ron-de-vou".
I went on to be an engineer, as we know it, it was the great middle class dream, and carried even greater value, where your getting admission to an engineering college was absolutely through a keenly contested competition, and the intellect by which a child was gifted was sole determinant, rather than the gifts his father could bestow on the schools which later mushroomed across the country. Also deeply imprinted on my intellectual journey is the period I had spent at government funded management institute in Indore at School of Economics, with all the trappings of a government run institute, all in yellow and white, with a tree in the middle and two classes to call its own. But those were sweet days (and not merely because the young mind of mine was conspiring in the world of romance about a future of love and tranquility and togetherness), the library of the Institute and of the university had collectively so many books that I could savor before the session could come to an end, and I did really come of that place, being educated, albeit with a Degree. Did it matter, no it did not, what the result of earlier years was. And yet here I was asking the same question, thus mentally setting my child up in a negative cycle of what Shawn Achor ( talks about on, first you do xyz, be successful and it will make you happy, this is the kind of cycle which never reaches an end, which never help you realize your potential, which as per the earlier quoted Emperor is equivalence of Happiness. Thus, it is a recipe of a life of yearning and despair, how could I even think of putting my daughter on such a path. As per Positive psychology principle, the idea is to begin with Happiness first, be happy, and you will be competitive and you will rise, rather than the other way round. It is such an important point of view, irrespective of whether as Nietzsche you consider it important to be so happy at least once in a day that your soul dances or as per Schopenhauer, you believe, most comforting idea in life is not to seek happiness, but to avoid unhappiness. Either way, putting winning and competition as the pre-condition or the first step is the biggest mis-step a human can take and regretfully that is the path that I was putting my child on, almost. I was saved almost in time, by skewed system of admission in Delhi.


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