The concept of education has greatly evolved over the years. Education was first considered as the gain of knowledge from teacher to student. It focused on training children and focusing on their skills so that they could use those skills to take over a family business or find a job. There was also an emphasis on student-teacher bonding. Education started with the learning of farming, archery, pottery, hunting, housework, and so on. It then moved on to be religious and political especially during the British rule in India. Education has now become competitive. Everyone strives to be better than the other, not in terms of having more knowledge but for better marks. This takes us to the endless pursuit of numbers over knowledge.
What is Education?
Education is a mode of gaining knowledge. Education does not necessarily mean the stereotypical method of thinking which includes going to school and learning certain subjects. Education can take place by reading, interacting with people, traveling and so much more. Education is about learning and experiencing different topics, subjects, experiences and keeping this learned knowledge for one’s satisfaction.
Holistic education also focuses on strengthening one’s skills, talents, likings so that an individual can find happiness in himself/herself and the stream pursued in life.
The concept and implementation of education have evolved greatly. Education has become a never-ending race. A race everyone wants to win. Instead of focusing on the gain of knowledge and strengthening of talents, it is now focused on the acquisition of grades and the comparison of those grades. Every parent wants their child to score a full 20 or a full 100 on every paper. Not many focus on whether the child understands the content taught.
Once the child clears school, he/she is burdened with the entrance exams. These exams again focus on the scores achieved and not an individual’s talent and the survival in the course.
Once admission takes place, the pressure shifts towards scoring high points in the Grade Point Average. It does not end with a Bachelor’s degree or a diploma because that can never be enough. The focus then shifts towards getting a Master’s degree in a specific field. Post a Master’s degree, several households then expect a Ph.D.
Thus, the line of education doesn’t seem to possess an end. Regardless of how qualified an individual is, he or she will always be faced with someone who is relatively more qualified than them.
In society’s terms, this individual will then be considered the smarter one between the two. Thus, this societal competition demeans even the most qualified minds, simply because they deem themselves inferior in the company of superior intellect.
Even coming to the family background. No parent or individual stops and cares whether the content taught and learned is correct or satisfactory or whether or not it is understood. Education has taken the form of marks/grades/scores.
In India, after the completion of grade 10, individuals can pursue their further studies of two years either in school or in college, after which they take admissions in colleges to earn a Bachelor’s degree. The percentage required to take admission in these colleges is extremely high. Colleges expect students to earn a 96-98%. The system is predominantly focused on results and not the journey. Thus, the students who do not get the desired grade, lose out on their admission even if they are capable of understanding the stream subjects.
The grades and the need for grades by society do not consider the fracture it causes to relationships, friendships, and communication. With a need for better grades comes competition which can turn out into jealousy, feelings of unworthiness, built-up anger, an inferiority feeling, and the ‘being a failure’ emotion. This creates an extremely negative environment to study in.
Individuals are driven by jealousy which may be a reason to befriend someone. Friendships and relationships are built on trust and when in such situations friendships are made, it not only harms both the individuals in the ‘faux’ friendship but also leads to trust problems in the future. This also forces one to only concentrate on mugging the content rather than understanding it, flouting the entire reason to get an education.
This grade does not take into account any factors such as that of mental and physical health or the battles fought by any of the students. It neglects to include the sleepless nights, stress-induced health disorders, anxiety, depression, and other problematic issues that may arise from the fear of not performing well or the stress that comes about when not performed well. When students face these problems, a feeling of helplessness arises in their minds and hearts. They then resort to substances that help them calm the mind and the stress, thus leading to substance abuse in some situations.
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Currently, education has been reduced to the status of mere marks and a symbol of one’s worth. It feels as though no amount of degrees or diplomas are satisfactory. Some degrees are considered to be extremely important and ‘for the intelligent’ while others are considered to be weak degrees.
Certain stereotypical degrees take the spotlight, without acknowledging the impact that other degrees can have on society. More times than others, these degrees are associated with smarter and hardworking individuals while the remaining degrees are surrendered to the remainder of the average population.
Role of Society
The role that society has played in this must be acknowledged. Society has bound people to pursue ‘important’ degrees to fit into society, simply to maintain order. It is up to the brave souls to take on this challenge, break the stereotypes and pursue their heart’s desire.
The entire concept of education has been changed by society. From being a mode of gaining knowledge, it has become a need to ‘fit into society’ card. It focuses on the grades more than the learning. Futuristically, if education is perceived in this manner, every individual will suffer from mental exhaustion, breakdowns, stress-induced problems and most of all a disinterest towards learning all this amazing world and life has to offer.
Education should be perceived as an advantageous and beneficial mode of learning all that our life cannot teach the us-a method to learn the abundance of knowledge there exists. As a society, we should focus on enabling individuals to pursue and focus on their strengths and becoming the best possible version of themselves. We should encourage every individual to put in their best possible effort regardless of the outcome.
No pressure should be burdened on choosing a stereotypical stream. Every individual should receive appreciation for the stream chosen by him/her regardless of how ‘important’ one may consider it to be.
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As said correctly by Mahatma Gandhi “By education, I mean an all-round drawing of the best in child and man in the body in body, mind, and spirit.”