The essence of true learning is that it encourages independent thinking, free of biases and prejudices. Mark Twain was once quoted as saying “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Conventional education tends to condition or program the mind; often, the inherent thinker withers on the vine. The stereotype indoctrinates the mind with the mundane. Liberal minds do not preach agnosticism; however, they mostly shun getting married to customs and traditions. Customs and traditions belong to an element of time cycle; they fade and eventually are superseded. True learning inculcates the endeavour to discover, rather than being brainwashed by pre-defined pedagogy. Modern science can teach you everything about the ‘non-self’; nevertheless it remains oblivion of the ‘self’. An ancient saying illustrates ‘One, who knows the self, knows the universe’. Learning has no methodology, it is a self-discovery.
The cardinal rule of learning is that nothing can be taught. There is no structured way; nature itself is the source of learning. Mathematics can teach us to count dollars, but it also can teach us to count stars. To learn photosynthesis, one need not look at textbooks. Observation and symphony with nature can teach you a lot of things. If an educational institution perpetuates the virtue of curiosity, the learning curve takes its own course. Standardisation and competition is an antithesis to the process of learning. Every individual is unique and needs his or her own space to explore, experiment and discover. One need not conform to prefixed objectives. A child needs an unrestricted environment to blossom. An open-ended mode of erudition lays the cornerstone for perpetual knowledge. Such approach facilitates the child to become independent in terms of choices they make and decisions they take. Gradually, they broaden their canvass and look at a bigger picture beyond home and school. When the time is ripe, they are all set to enact as a protagonist on the larger stage.
There are few educational institutions, who have taken strides in this direction. The outcome of this or so called conscious education cannot be quantified as yet. I am not sure whether children subscribed to this school of thought will turn into Doctors or Engineers? Will they be a part of the mainstream or will they carve their own path? Yet, what I am confident is that this process will ensure that learning becomes a life-long phenomenon.
Why does this school of thought inspire me? Being a product of conventional education, I disliked economics during matriculation and graduation. Ironically, I started liking this subject when I fell in love with reading newspapers (including business dailies) during my MBA days. No school or college taught me economics. Fascination for reading compelled me to brush up the terminologies and nuances of economics and landed me in the analyst fraternity tracking commodities and global economics. An important aspect which I discovered after this transition is that a predefined pedagogy obscures your true penchant. The conditioning which begins at a very early stage, never allows the self-discovery process to begin thereby impairing the learning process.
Apple’ Steve Job’s story is a perfect analogy. His commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 can help us connect the dots. His decision to drop out of Reed College ended up helping him; he stopped bothering about subjects which did not interest him and worked on things he had a liking for. Being a dropout, he opted for a part time calligraphy class at Reed College. He got introduced to various fonts, its dimensions and the importance of design. Although he never envisaged the practical application of his wisdom, he learned it because he liked it. As they say ‘Life comes full circle.’ Few years later, calligraphy helped him in designing the first graphical user interface-based personal computer (Macintosh) and the rest is history! As an aside, the cash balance available with Apple as of date is enough to gobble up the top 5 listed companies of India.
Back to reality, all this may sound Utopian and I may seem like a dreamer. However, I believe I am not alone. A world obsessed with automation and growth is failing to understand that various processes in nature are independent and need not be interfered with. I hope we awake to the real sense of learning. Else, the cliché “I was born intelligent. Education ruined me,” will live on.