What comes to your mind when someone mentions the current education system, or perhaps something as abstract as curiosity. According to Alyque Padamsee, visual simulation and proactive thinking are key to unlearning and relearn what we’ve been taught since time immemorial. Instead of blindly following what we’re told, we need to step out of the confinements set by society and think for ourselves, form our own perceptions, and discover what the world has to offer without being influenced by what society dictates or expects us to do. Read this excerpt from the great Alyque Padamsee’s final tribute to the youth of India, Let Me Hijack Your Mind, co-authored by Vandana Saxena Poria!
“Have you noticed how many American expressions are visual?
‘Hit the ground running’
‘Keep your eyes peeled’
The power of the visual is so strong, it’s amazing. Now, how can we bring visual stimulation to the classroom?”
School vs Edutainment
For years, education in this country and almost all over the world was about rote learning. And unfortunately, Britain was in India during the Victorian period. If Britain had been our rulers after the Beatles, just imagine how different life could have been. The Beatles generation disrupted the culture of Britain completely. It was an exciting time over there, where people were doing mad things that didn’t have logic. No linear thinking, but squiggly thinking, all over the place. If post-Beatles Britain had ruled India, I think India would have been quite a different place. We actually had Britain ruling over us during its worst period, at its most conventional, with, ‘Don’t answer back. Little boys should be silent and only speak when they are spoken to.’ And as for little girls . . .
We have continued in this trap, this time worshipping the false gods of education. We are still handcuffed to the old system. Education here in India is for the teacher to dictate, no questions asked. A lot has changed abroad, which I must say is very good, but most of what is being taught in Indian schools is unfortunately still very much by rote, where you learn by heart, faithfully reproduce in the examination and you pass to get your degree. Do you really want a degree that says you are nothing more than a robot? Garbage in, garbage out?
I mean look at History—these poor kids today have to learn all these dates and reel them off in the exam. They get marks for getting the dates right. BUT WHO CARES ABOUT THE DATE if they don’t understand the crux of why the war was fought or the significance of the action? History is not about dates; history says it was thanks to a man like Gandhiji that we got our independence through non-violence, which everyone said was impossible. Now how did we do that? Can we bring that teaching in?
I am saying education is for the learner to learn and not for the teacher to teach. It’s for the teacher to enthuse, and it’s for the learner to be enthusiastic enough to be able to learn on their own. That’s what education is all about.
Curiosity Did Not Kill the Cat
I get quite annoyed with this proverb, as it is not entirely accurate. Shakespeare had it right in Much Ado About Nothing, where Claudio says to Benedick, ‘What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat? Thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.’ In this instance, care meant worries.
So Shakespeare was saying worrisome thoughts would kill you. That is not at all the same as curiosity! I wouldn’t be surprised if those religious zealots of times gone by changed the phrase to get people to stay in line and not question religion too much! Anyway, I say, ‘Curiosity inspired the cat’, and that has proven true throughout my life. Curiosity is the best form of edutainment anywhere. Honestly, if you just keep your eyes wide open and go explore different areas, you will somehow stumble upon your passion.