In the long writing career, spanning over nearly two decades, I got many chances to interact with enlightened minds and share with them a piece of my mind in matters pertaining to critical issues. A long back ago when I was regular contributor for The Statesman’s Viewpoint Column ( Calcutta Edition), I came in touch with Jeremy Seabrook who was then writing for one of its popular columns.
This conversation related with falling standards of education system took place after I came to read his article” Learning Revisited” published in The Statesman on March 14, 2005.
Your write-up is an eye-opener, allowing one to reckon with the hidden facets of education. I am appalled at the manner in which institutions offering so-called gems of knowledge, which in reality are antithetical to creative tendencies lying latent within the recipients, have solidified their base. One reason for it could be that parents are now no longer interested in “value-oriented” teaching methods, simply because it stands in the way of attaining ‘name and fame’. No wonder this could be the reason behind the mind-boggling network of coaching factories, which are making huge profit in the name of offering conductive atmosphere for cracking the entrance tests.
This attitude of parents has brought a sea change in the attitude of present day students, who weigh everything in materialistic yardsticks or, in other words, in rupee:dollar ratio. After all, who has time for values in the fast-paced life of ours! The real quest for supreme knowledge would always remain a distant dream in absence of change of mindset, especially the parents. Well, it’s never too easy to change mindset without giving way to measures mired in transparent means. What has guaranteed failure of projects in this regard has been wide gap between theory and practice besides infrastructural bottlenecks. Let’s realize that mere propaganda is not going to solve this issue.
Unfortunately, this is what both Left and Right wings are used to. Their stances, diametrically opposite to each other, have wiped out the vigour of those wishing to make worthwhile contributions, so much so that if one does not yield to their outdated notions one is bound to invite troubles of all sorts. The message is clear: Rise above ideological fanaticism to stop the degradation of education system, something so imperative to prevent the innocent minds turning into robot.
Vivekananda rightly remarked that ” education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and run riot there, undigested, all life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas”. Will anyone please translate this into reality?
Jeremy Seabrook’s Viewpoint:
Many thanks for your helpful and kind e-mail. Indeed, education has become not an end in itself, noble and worthwhile, but an instrument for material gain and industrial conformism. In this sense, of course, the educational system is only an emanation of the society that produces it, and an expression of the social values and mores of which it is a symptom. Intervention for change involves a complete change in the social and moral structures of globalism-no small thing, but a project we should not abandon simply because of its apparent attainability.
About Jeremy Seabrook:
My first book was The Unprivileged, 1967, the story of my own family, a path breaking oral history from the late 18th century to the 1960s. This was followed by City Close-Up, a portrait, through the words of the people, of Blackburn in Lancashire.
In the 1970s, I wrote What Went Wrong? Working People and the Ideals of the Labour Movement; a book which, when published in the USA, was sub-titled Why hasn’t Having More Made People Happier?
Mother and Son, a memoir, appeared in 1980, and an indictment of Thatcher’s Britain,Unemployment, in 1982.
Work on India and Bangladesh followed, notably, Notes from another India and Children of Other Worlds, a comparison of child labour in nineteenth century London and present-day Dhaka in Bangladesh. My book, Love in a Different Climate, described how male same-sex relationships in India differ from those in the West.
I have contributed to most major newspapers in Britain over the years, and have written for Granta. I am a regular contributor to New Internationalist – which has published three of my books in the last decade, most recently Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives. I write for Race and Class and Third World Resurgence, based in Penang, Malaysia.
More About Jeremy Seabrook:
“He became an associate honorary fellow at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies 1995 to 1998 and an associate at the Institute of Race Relations, UK, from 2004 onwards.
He has made several documentaries for BBC radio and TV on social, environmental and developmental issues.
Since 1963, Seabrook has written for publications including: New Society, the Guardian, the Times, the Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Race and Class, Third World Resurgence, Third World Network and others.
He has also written over 40 books, including;
Travels in the Skin Trade – looking at the psychology of western men who travel to southeast Asia for sexual adventures (Pluto Press).
A World Growing Old – the implications of an ageing population, north and south (Pluto Press).”
Courtesy: The Guardian
The Statesman ( Kolkata Edition)
The poem posted below is a chilling account of how pressure to perform at schools is killing students. That also speaks volume about how schools are responsible for suicide of students, who do not follow the beaten track. Schools produce asses, not conscious individuals. It’s correct to say that they murder creativity, wipe out all good possibilities. The schools worldwide are playing havoc with lives of students thinking differently.
We only know pass and fail, we cannot see beyond grades and the life of student gets stuck between first and third division. That’s the only achievement of studying at school. We decide the stature and class of a student right at school in a most barbaric manner. The sensitive minds get trapped in inhuman categories, which chase them throughout their lives. Were the schools brought in existence to attain such ends?
Some years back schools in India refused to give admission to their own students in higher classes, taking into account their poor performance in previous classes. Poor parents and students were left with no other chances but to get admission in other schools, which was quite a humiliating experience. Thanks to intervention of Court, the trend to refuse admission got curbed. The example is enough to suggest that education system in India is controlled by retarded minds, which have little respect for the dignity of students. They also do not know that students are our future and it’s an unpardonable offence to make students victim of terrible guilt complexes, which remain with them for rest of their lives.
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, with his arm stiff and his feet flat on the floor, Stiff.
With the teacher watching and watching. The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys. He said he didn’t like them.
She said it didn’t matter. After that they drew.
And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning. And it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at him.
“What’s this?” she said. “Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing? Isn’t it lovely?”
After that his mother bought him a tie. And he started drawing airplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
He lay alone looking at the sky, it was big and blue and all of everything.
But he wasn’t anymore. He was square inside and brown
And his hands were stiff. And he was like everyone else.
And the things inside him that needed saying didn’t anymore.
It had stopped pushing. It was crushed. Stiff. Like everything else.
(The poem written by a 14 year old boy, who committed suicide two weeks later after presenting the poem to his English teacher)
Full poem can be read here: Poem
मुझे याद आते है स्कूल के दिन जब चीटिंग करने के नायाब तरीके लोगो हम लोगो ने इजाद कर रखे थे. ये एक बहुत गौड़ रूप में छोटे स्तर पर व्याप्त था. मतलब इतनी ही नक़ल हम कर पाते थे कि इशारे से आगे वाले से कुछ पूछ लिया और अगर ईश्वर मेहरबान रहा और आगे वाला बंदा अच्छे मूड में रहा तो एक दो सूत्र बता देता था. इससें ज्यादा कुछ नहीं क्योकि इंग्लिश मीडियम के स्कूल में जल्लाद रूपी मैम के चलते इससें ज्यादा जुर्रत किसी की नहीं होती थी और यदि धर लिए गए तो फिर तो खैर नहीं. अब जैसे एक वाकया याद आता है कि फिजिक्स टेस्ट में कुछ नहीं आ रहा था. इज्ज़त बची रहे इस खातिर हिम्मत जुटा के अपने ठीक पीछे बैठी पढने में तेज़ लड़की से कुछ पूछा तो इस कदर आँख दिखाई कि फिर किसी से कुछ पूछ नहीं पाया. मामला इतना आसान रहता तो मै भूल गया होता हुआ. हुआ यही कि टीचर ने उस दिन कापी आगे पीछे एक्सचेंज करके चेक करवा दी. जिस लड़की से पूछा था उसी के पास कापी भी चेक करने चली गयी. जो नंबर मिल सकते थे वे भी चले गए. खैर इस मासूम से माहौल से गुज़रते हुए हम सब ने आगे चलकर मेहनत के बल पे सफलता हासिल की. पर आज का परिदृश्य बहुत बदला सा नज़र आता है. गुरु और शिष्य के समीकरण विकृत तो हुए ही है पठन पाठन का माहौल भी बहुत रसातल में चला गया है.
आज नक़ल सुनियोजित होती है जिसमे माफिया पैसे लेकर ठेके पे नक़ल कराते है ना करने देने पर प्रिंसिपल से लेकर गुरूजी तक को ठोक दिया जाता है. आज मास्टर साहब की सक्षमता इस बात से मापी जाती है कि वे नक़ल करा पाने में काबिल है कि नहीं. कापिया बदल दी जाती है. चेले लोग गुरु से सफा सफा पूछते है नक़ल की क्या व्यवस्था है जैसे कि नक़ल पे उनका जन्मसिद्ध अधिकार हो. जो नक़ल करके पास हो गया वो सिकंदर और जो ना कर पाया वो सड़क पे मदारी के हाथो नाचने वाले बन्दर सी शक्ल वाला हो जाता है. हालात ये है कि जो कभी उन हालातो में पास हुएँ है जब नकल नहीं हुई बोर्ड में तो कहते है साहब हम तो कल्याणजी के ज़माने में बोर्ड परीक्षा पास किये है. एक वक्त ऐसा आया कि नक़ल की इतनी छूट मिली कि गोबर गणेश टाईप के बहुत सारे पप्पू भी अस्सी परसेंट से पास हो गए. बात थोड़ी गंभीर है. इतने झुण्ड के झुण्ड बच्चे इस तरह थोक के भाव पास हो रहे है और उतने ही थोक के भाव कुकुरमुत्ते की तरह उग आये इंजिनीयरिंग कालेज में एडमिशन भी ले रहे है. जो नहीं पैसा जुटा पाए वे यूनिवर्सिटी में दाखिला ले लिए फिर लग गए आई ए एस की तैयारी में!! य़ूजीसी इस बात से हैरान परेशान है कि रिसर्च की गुणवत्ता में काफी गिरावट आई है. अब ये नहीं समझ में आता कि इस तरह की प्राथमिक और उच्च शिक्षा हासिल करने वाले अच्छे शोध पत्र कैसे तैयार करेंगे ?
प्राथमिक का हाल ये है कि मिड डे मील कैसे बने प्रिंसिपल साहब इसी में उलझे रहते है. नए कानून के मुताबिक बच्चो के स्कूल में रहना अनिवार्य है अब इस अनिवार्यता को पूरी करने की धुन में सब परेशान है. जो बच्चे अंग्रेजी मीडियम में अन्य बोर्ड से पढ़ रहे है उन पर ज्यादा बोझ ना पड़े इसलिए ग्रेडिंग सिस्टम आ गया है. अब बच्चे आसानी से पास हो सकते है. ऐसे पास होके आगे क्या करेंगे राम जाने पर हा जो सक्षम है वे अच्छी महंगी कोचिंग करके किसी एम एन सी में आगे जाके खप जायेंगे. पर बाकी क्या करेंगे ? वे चेन छीनेगे, उत्पात मचायेंगे, राजनैतिक कार्यकर्ता बनके लूटपाट करेंगे, छेड़छाड़ करेंगे और इसके सिवा ना खप पाने वाले बच्चो और युवको का क्या भविष्य है ? अभी अखिलेश सिंह ने सेवायोजन नाम का जिन्न पैदा किया और इतने सारे युवक युवतियां इसे अपने वश में करने निकल पड़े की प्रशासन के पसीने छूट गए. क्या ऐसी मारा मारी नहीं बताती कि हमने किस तरह कि शिक्षा व्यवस्था कायम की है कि जिसमे इस तरह से लोग नौकरी के लिए मरकट रहे है? रोज ही पढ़ता हूँ मिलिटरी भर्ती के दौरान भदगड मची, लाठीचार्ज हुआ, या लोग फार्म लेने या जमा करते वक्त लाइन में बेहोश हो गए, भर्ती परीक्षाओ में इतने परीक्षार्थी आये कि सब जगह अव्यवस्था फैल गयी. इस देश में लोग तब तक सरकारी नौकरी का फार्म भरते रहते है जब तक उम्र से मजबूर ना हो जाए. और सरकारी नौकर बनकर किस तरह मानव से दानव बनते ये एक अलग दास्तान है. या कॉल सेंटर टाईप संस्थान में घुस के “पिराईवेट” ( प्राइवेट) गुलाम बन के किस तरह जीवन यापन कर रहे है ये एक अलग कहानी है.
क्या हमको नहीं लगता ये रोज़ी रोटी के लिए पैदा की गयी शिक्षा व्यवस्था से हमने सिर्फ शोषण को जन्म देने वाली व्यवस्था पैदा की है ? क्या शिक्षा व्यवस्था का उद्देश्य ये नहीं होना चाहिए कि मानवीय मूल्यों की रक्षा हों और मनुष्य के आत्मसम्मान के साथ खेलवाड़ ना हो ? क्या फायदा इस शिक्षा व्यस्था का जिसने इस व्यवस्था को जन्म दिया हो कि लाशो पर भी दलाली चल रही हो ? शिक्षा रुपैया पैदा करने का साधन नहीं मनुष्य को बेहतर बनाने का साधन है. जब तक नहीं समझेंगे तब जवानी लाइनों में सडती रहेगी!!!
Indian soil is the home of mystics and philosophers. Their long-standing involvement with divine affairs has given rise to host of ideologies, which have always enraptured the hearts and minds of all elevated souls. When one talks about Radhakrishnan the image of an educationist, possessing a philosopher’s soul, gets stuck in our consciousness who wished to see his pupils turning into carrier of the India. After all, furtherance of great ‘argumentative tradition’ was his prime aim. This is why he was an educationist par excellence, whose ideas left an indelible impression on everyone who came in contact with him. Strange are the affairs of nature. He appeared at a time when India desperately needed a soul who could unravel the inherent intricacies of Indian philosophical system in a way which enabled the masses, especially the conscious souls, to grasp their meaning without losing sight of their essence. It was none but Radhakrishnan who could do it with ease. After all, he was the nature’s ‘beloved agent’ due to his peculiar bent if mind that intercepted philosophical truths with perfect clarity. In this piece I would like to confine myself to his philosophical revelations.
We are living in age in which the ‘anxiety of doubt and meaningless is dominant’. In this background, the role of philosophers has gained immense importance. The philosophers bring under their contemplation ‘what time and nature have extinguished’ and thus they gain the power to predict the unpredictable. According to Radhkrishnan the humanity is on the brink of total collapse because mutual mistrust has blocked real communication. We have maintained a negatives silence that has reduced the world into mad-house. This ‘lack of understanding’ that has caused fragmentation of the society needs to be checked. But that can never be achieved if we don’t develop the capacity to look within. “If you want to be a truly loving being, it is essential for you to understand what our feelings are. How cursed mankind is?
We know the right, but we do not do it; we know the wrong, but we cannot abstain from it. It is this cursedness in human nature, which has to be got over. Love, therefore, is not a mere brilliance of intellect but it is discipline of the heart. Without discipline mere brilliance will not do.”In Geeta this inability to execute the desired despite being aware of its advantages has been explained in terms of man’s bond with previous samskaras. Desires can never be annihilated unless man rise above chain of reactions triggered by ignorance—the root cause of all desires. Radhakrishnan sounds true when he says that it needs an intense soul- searching to get above fractured intellectual knowledge and hence come in touch of ‘Intuitive knowing’, which alone makes the inward journey possible. Intuitive knowing, according to him, is unimprisoned by the divisions of space, successions of time or sequences of cause and effect. ‘Intellectual knowledge is a scattered, broken movement of the one undivided infinite life which is all –possessing and ever satisfied…It is through quieting the strivings of the will and the empirical intellect that the conditions are realized for the revelation of the Supreme in an individual soul. Therefore having calm, subdued quiet, patiently enduring and collected, one sees the Self just in the self”. Only the man who has a pure heart (read childlike nature) can know God. In one of the famous episodes in the Upanishad Sanatkumara makes Narada aware of futility of excessive learning. The encyclopedic knowledge of Narada did not make him attain tranquility of mind. Thanks to the wisdom of Sanatkumara that ultimately pushed him beyond the realm of intellect. Faust says:
” I have studied now philosophy
And jurisprudence and medicine
And even, alas theology,
With vision keen, from end to end
And yet poor fool, with all my learning
I am no wiser than before.”
It must be very clear from the above disclosures that ‘no amount of theoretical knowledge can serve as a substitute for the practice of life of spirit.’ In other ors, the art of swimming cannot be gained by mere articulation of its rules—it’s by getting into the alone one can turn into a perfect swimmer. One of the drawbacks of present age is that communication between individuals has totally evaporated. Even the inventions of science have not been able to reduce the distance between due to air of mistrust. Mobile flashing may have become a hot-favorite thing in Yuppie circles but it hardly evokes a fruitful dialogue. Similarly, Internet no doubt has shattered boundaries of nation but has it dissolved the loneliness, which exists within the individuals? The answer is emphatic no. Why this monstrous silence has become part of our culture, especially when we are living in a country known for its festivals? One reason for it could be that the age in which we are trapped today has been hijacked by transitions of all sorts. Prominent features of society wrapped in transition phase are ‘disintegration and renewal’. Since we are still in the process of development of society that caters to new ideas and beliefs as its own the confusion has gained upper hand.
Under this circumstances ‘the history of the new world, of one world which is rich in range and majestic in its scope’ can never be attained if we keep on fanning suicidal tendencies breeding separation and cynicism. Radhakrishnan offering a solution says, “The only attitude that we can adopt in the present context is an attitude not of exclusiveness but of comprehension, not of intolerance but of understandings, not of hatred and fanaticism but of appreciation and assimilation of whatever is valuable”. Drawing a rather unusual comparison let me say that rigidity in beliefs only produces Jihadis or, for that matter, communists. For both of them whoever falls outside rather perverse mindset doesn’t deserve a right to live further .If he does manage to survived hi is either a ‘kafir’ or ‘fascist’. Such dangerous classifications alone have turned the world into hell.
According to Radhakrishnan the goal of life should be to rise above day-to-running and get merged with the finer spiritual existence , which all the time keep surfacing form of antipathy towards earthly pursuits. But this can never be the reality so long our identification with ‘selfish ego’ that considers ‘conceptual reason ‘as ultimate doesn’t get shattered. If religion has turned into source of bitterness it’s because of wrong identification with their symbols considering ‘these relative symbols for the absolute truth’. The confusion that arises due to ‘self-confident jugglery’ with symbols and definitions makes realization of “supreme self’ a distant dream .Finally, let’s grasp this fully named perfectly that aim of life is to mould yourself in the image of divine. Radhakrisnan states that “nothing on earth is utterly perfect or utterly without perfection. Those who have the visions of perfection strive continually to increase the perfection ….Life is ever striving for its fuller creative manifestation. The life of God is the fullness of our life.”
Finally, some thoughts from his book ” Eastern Religions And Western Thought” :
With all her poverty and degradation , her suffering and subjection , India still bears witness to the cult of the spirit . It is not right to complain that India has failed to because the she has followed after things spiritual .She has failed because she has not followed after them sufficiently . She has not learned how to make spirit entirely the master of life , but has created in recent times a gulf between spirit and life and has rested in a compromise .
To be inspired in our thoughts by divine knowledge , to be moved in our will by the divine purpose , to mould our emotions into harmony with divine bliss , to get at the great self of truth , goodness , and beauty to which we give the name of God as a spiritual presence , to raise our whole being and life to the divine status , is the ultimate purpose and meaning of human living . Some exceptional individuals have achieved this status and harmony .They are the highest type of humanity yet reached and indicate the final shape which humanity has to assume . They are the forerunners of the new race .
” Eastern Religions And Western Thought ” by S .Radhakrishnan, Page 56-57.