Many of us are relatively more powerful in one area of life than another. However, instead of being happy about the expertise we possess, we grieve our weak spots. For sure, this sob attitude is not an inborn pattern of behaviour; it is acquired from a system of education.
Years back, George Reavis in his fable, ‘The Animal School’, observed this sad pattern of training students in the Public Schools where he was a Superintendent in the 1940s. In his imaginative writing, he created a duck who though excellent in swimming was given extra coaching in running, till his webbed feet got worn out and he became an average swimmer. But there were no worries because average was acceptable in his school.
The rabbit, in his school suffered a nervous breakdown because his friends teased him every time he was forced to jump into the water for his swimming lessons. ‘You look like a little rat’, they called out till he hated himself and went into depression.
When the fish cried to her parents, telling them that she couldn’t run because she didn’t have legs, her parents who were victims of the New World themselves, took an appointment with the principal to discuss how to improve her running.
Our system of education has got us obsessed with the idea of average being okay instead of pushing us to work hard on our strengths. We have students who have artistic skills but are left to struggle with math. We have students who have the physical strength of Samson in their limbs, but are made to waste time in class rooms rather than be in open fields. We have students who have the power of numbers in their heads but are forced to write creative essays. All these students are made to work towards handicapping their potential and focus on their lesser abilities.
The struggles our students go through today are not because of any inadequacies in themselves; these have been imposed on them by our system of a Herd Mentality Education. This system focuses on the principal of ‘Jack of all and master of none’. If this system considers itself to be based on Socialism, working towards making everybody equal, then it has resulted in a sad culmination of a mediocre society.
Instead, every student in the class needs to be valued for his individual ability and not criticised for his lack of expertise in certain subjects. Every student is rich in different attributes and this must be appreciated if we want a healthy learning environment. Treating everybody in the same manner is not fair; it is in fact an unfair method of treating the future of our world.
The saddest part of this system is that, we incorporate this eye opening story in the language syllabus for our children but turn a blind eye to its message.
Now the question is, how must a student caught in such a senseless system, escape from its killing clutches? If we can’t fight the devil, it does not mean that we become friends with him. It does not also mean that we ignore him; because his presence is certainly a fact. However, what we have in our power is to not allow that evil presence to grow bigger in our lives. If the education monster is scaring us from time to time, in all our smartness, we need to understand that he is playing a prank on us. At this moment, if we were to turn our attention towards nature, we would in all probability read an answer in its beauty. The authenticity of existence can be most obviously seen in nature. There is a super power which takes care of the most simplest things like the grass and flowers in the wild, where there is no one to take care of them; wouldn’t then that same power take care of us? Rather than worrying about competing in a foolish system which attempts to treat everybody in one way we must rest in confidence in our uniqueness; and strive not to be at par with others, nor overpower them in the spirit of competition, but respect the power within us and seek guidance in sustenance. “And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?” Matthew 6:30
There are no schools out in the world where they teach peace. That’s a strange class we have to build within the structure of our physical body. Just like when faced with an ugly sight, we turn to look away; we need to work at peace within, in order to look away from this ugly and demanding system of education, hell bent on ruining our moments of satisfaction.
John Knowles, in his novel set against the backdrop of World War II, ‘A Separate Peace’, explores the loss of innocence through its narrator and says, “This was the tree, and it seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are not merely smaller in relation to your growth but they are absolutely smaller, shrunken by age. In this double demotion the old giants have become pygmies while you were looking the other way.”
So let us declare that we will not let this gigantic system to crush us under its ridiculous expectations, but look away; and then soon one day, we will see its double demotion where it will shrink in face of our individual strengths and appear a dwarf to our calmed minds.
pic courtesy: Google