An illiterate’s declaration to a literacy preacher!

I am always fascinated by the diversity of the collection at ArvindGupta website. I was talking to a friend about James Thurber’s “The Last flower”, which I first found in ArvindGupta site. As I began revisiting the list of books mentioned over there, I stopped at the mention of this title –“An illiterate’s declaration to a literacy preacher”. The title in itself had enough to convince me in to reading it immediately.

You can read it here.

It starts with humble acknowledgements like – “I am again grateful to you for being so worried about me. I have given my full attention to all of your preachings.”

After enlisting a sort of comparison between “educated” and “uneducated” lifestyles, comes the punch line (IMHO) – “My learning is apparent and authentic in itself. I do not worry about being awarded any certificates to prove this.”

It was followed by a strong (in my view…not so compelling… and extremely blind) criticism of modern education system. However, at one or two places, it made me think a bit. For example, towards the end, it says:

“The real problem of today’s society is not that the working class is illiterate. In fact the real problem is that the schooled people of our society are averse to work, particularly to any sort of physical labor.”

I do feel the whole article has a strong “anti” feeling towards “modern” education and criticizes every thing in it, which makes it uncomfortable for me to call it “objective” … even if objectivity as such is a myth.

However, despite all its shortcomings, in the few minutes while and after reading it –

How many times was I reminded of “Nookaalu” of Gangaputhrulu?
How many times was I reminded of “Rudrudu” of Sontaooru?
How many times did I think about the shallow but informative chats with “sage-in-making” on the topic of development?
How many times was I reminded about “Gao Chodab Nahin“?
– I did not count!!

This short document might hit you hard, if you really do the Hamsa act, separate what is valid criticism and ignore the rest 🙂

Not that I know the answers for all those question, though! 😉

Published in: on March 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting thoughts (yours) Sowmya.
    I feel like I have so much to say in this topic that I am afraid I might actually end up confusing even myself. I will try.
    Free elementary education for all started at a certain time in view of certain condtions. Objectives of the idea are noble.
    Problem comes in defining ‘education’. We need to ‘define’ so that we can measure. We measure so that we may be ‘unbiased’ in comparing. For we needed a system to evaluate people independent of factors like caste, economic status, sex and so many other factors that differetiate us.
    Problem also comes by ‘enforcing’ education for all. For, that means we are taking the choice away from some people. If we did not ‘enforce’ then we would be ‘looking down’ upon some. For obviously, those who are already ahead in the system of education will seem to be getting the advantage.
    It is not easy to make any one ‘noble’ idea work for everyone all the time.
    Therein lies the problem I think.
    I said it much more concisely than I thought I could.
    While the issue itself is too big for any of us here to handle, we do have a choice in shaping the way we think about ‘education’ as individuals and parents. That is good enough place to begin making changes and hard enough too 🙂

  2. The above comment was an effort to be precise. I found some ‘food for thought’ in “Zen and the art of motrocycle maintenance”.
    There is this experiment he conducts where ther is no failing the students for ppor performance. There is no grading. It has to be read and read in the bigger context of the whole book. I cannot explain it. But one thing I seem to be summarising on so many days after reading the book is this, that we are learning rules which were made in order to understand ideas and leaving the ideas behind. A small excerpt from the book:
    “A student would always ask how the rule would apply in a certain special circumstance. Phædrus would then have the choice of trying
    to fake through a made-up explanation of how it worked, or follow the selfless route and say what he really thought. And what he
    really thought was that the rule was pasted on to the writing after the writing was all done. It was post hoc, after the fact, instead of
    prior to the fact. And he became convinced that all the writers the students were supposed to mimic wrote without rules, putting down
    whatever sounded right, then going back to see if it still sounded right and changing it if it didn’t.”
    The process of learning and teaching has to be put in a box for the sake of system which is supposed to be fair to all. We keep messing with this box in order for this one box to fit all. It wont fit and we try to tailor the people to fit into it. It goes on.
    For real learning to take place and real fairness to be administered, it need real people and real effort. Rules are important. But they have their place and it is limited.

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