What They Never Taught Us

By: Prashant Ramesh, 2016-06-23 12:30:00.0Category:  People's Voice
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I had wonderful teachers in school, a few good ones in college, and many mentors along my way who have contributed, but I have to say that a majority of my learning was self-imparted, and generally preceded by avoidable decisions.

I think that education has to prepare the student for life.  It has to open up options, prevent him from playing zero-sum games, improve her mobility in life and teach her how to express and manage emotions.

Education must remove fear.

No task or situation should intimidate you. You must feel mobilised, ready to act, rather than react. That is my vision.

I guess I should also forward this article to authorities in the education field, and follow up, as my resources permit me.

I felt that my education was deficient of the following skills:

  1. Engineering as a life skill

I want the student to experience the process of using knowledge to create value.

When faced with the task of crossing a raging river, I want her to think: “How many piers are required in water..? How do I go about planning this operation? Will the returns justify the cost of this undertaking? Who should I rope in to work with?”  

The point is, she should have practice in such thinking patterns. There is no right or wrong in engineering. There are just different solutions to a problem. 90% of the time engineering is razor sharp common-sense.

  1. Focus and deep study

This means shutting out all distractions and immersing oneself into exploring or practicing something. It can be playing a guitar, working of a crane, building something you’re your hands, economics of running a bakery in lokhandwala, Strauss Howe Generational theory, etc.  

This skill is an important aspect of human evolution. When you immerse yourself in a subject, you often won’t feel time flowing. By the time you’re done, you’d have developed new thinking patterns, and at the end, you’ll feel great contentment.

There is a disturbing development in recent years, wherein labels like nerd, geek etc have found their way into our language.

Truth is, deep study, on a regular basis, gives exponential returns. After a period of time, you’ll not believe the amount of competence you have acquired. You’ll feel reinvented.

  1. Awareness of cognition to deal with oneself.

We are all different in the way we take in and process information to arrive at decisions.

For example, if you sit me down in a class and deliver a lecture to me, I’ll understand nothing. But if you set me a problem and give me a laptop with an internet connection, I’d learn more that day than I would, in a year of lectures. More importantly, it’ll stick with me. I’d infact told this to my 11th grade physics teacher, but he got offended.

This is just one example. There are many other students, who learn very differently than the others. Our system needs to recognize this and tap into the immense potential that this pedagogy opens up. I personally use MBTI to understand cognition. Maybe there are better cognitive theories out there, which are easier to systemise.

  1. Emotional intelligence  

There’s a dialogue in the movie “500 Days of Summer” that goes like this:

I think we do a bad thing here… People should be able to say how they feel, how they really feel, not ya know, some words that some stranger put in their mouth.”  

There are lots of words that have lost their connection to the emotion they relate to, due to its use and abuse in the age of information. So it is all the more important the student learns to understand his feelings without the need for words, and to express the same to others, using the right choice of words.

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