When in school, I’d always question the true use of the huge amount of meaningless cramming of information from books whose aggregate weight was more than mine. And now that I have been two years out of school, I am still wondering the same thing. I’d like to correct myself here though; the information overload was not of course a total waste. I occasionally bedazzle my friends with my knowledge of the reproductive system, and I wasn’t even paying attention! But what about all the calculus and algebra I did, I actually liked doing it, I was a math nerd, and it’s a bummer I can’t use it in my everyday life or even in my work field to make my life easier. Hell, I haven’t met one person who actually uses it. But that doesn’t of course devalue those topics, it’s just that the education system should really just slow down and help students to look through things that might actually help them apart from stuffs that just blows their mind off, and not in a good way.
I recently watched the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris which apart from having one of the best stories I have seen lately was extremely rich in culture. For all those who aren’t familiar with it, the movies shows how one guy travels back to his favorite era, the 1920s in Paris and gets to meet all of the great of the time – Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, T.S. Elliot and others. And throughout the movie I found myself checking things on Google. And I felt stupid. Because I wasn’t familiar with so many of the greats and their work. And it’s a real pity. That got me thinking that the education system in India must really get students interested enough to look through these greats. Might be it won’t help us with our economics or physics paper, but a lot of inspiration can be found, and I know for a fact a lot of work by the greats done before our time is so moving, it has the power to shape life. At our school level, more than knowledge, what we actually get is a shape for our personality, and then we slowly mold it ourselves as we go by. And while going through electromagnetism of … (I dunno, I flunked physics) was a lot of fun and I really learned a ton, I learned more in the library browsing through fiction or watching a movie.
Speaking of which, movies are the most underrated source of knowledge. Second to which comes the newspaper. Seriously, newspapers have a bad reputation among teens, which is really intriguing because it means we are more interested in our past than the present, which has a bigger impact on the future. Movies I understand, there are tons of crap shit that comes to our nearest movie theatres every week, but there are some gems among them that just gets hidden and becomes obscure which is later found by hipsters and then becomes a cult classic. Movies about wars, documentaries about greats, even movies that actually depict the times and life of the Present. I bet a person would learn more about the wars in Iran and its implication on the people of Iran and specially women and thereby its implication on feminism today from one watch of the 2007 movie Persepolis than a 50 page chapter would.
I understand that it is rather difficult to expect the education board to cover everything between Higgs Boson particle to the Neanderthal’s bone structure, and it is in fact absurd to ask them to ask the student to read upon everything, but is it too much to ask them to at least work at opening the doors for the student to the much wider world of knowledge than forcing them to drop anything that is outside the curriculum of the student. Getting them interested is I guess, good enough. Photograph courtesy : Sato Photography